Monday, 20 April 2015

Providing Information on Historical Child Sex Abuse.

I am grateful to the Orkney Vole for bringing this House of Commons vote  , which seemed to have slipped under our scrutiny radar.

The vote held on the 21st February 2015, sought to introduce a new clause into the Serious Crime Bill to make it easier for those subject to the Official Secrets Act to disclose information on historical child sex abuse.

The intention was that the new clause would amend Section 8 of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which concerns the 'safeguarding of information' and makes it an offence to disclose information without authorisation.

The proposed new clause would have provided a defence to 'unauthorised disclosure of information' if it was:

  • Germane to an official investigation of, or inquiry into, historic child abuse... and was provided to an officer of such an investigation or inquiry.
Clearly the intention here was to make it more difficult to cover up historical child sex abuse cases in future which in itself was an admirable aim.

Unfortunately most MP's on the Government benches (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) voted AGAINST this amendment, but with some notable exceptions like Guto Bebb.


Stephen Crabb.
David Davies.
Glyn Davies.
David Jones.

Liberal Democrats.

Mark Williams.
Jennifer Willott.

The amendment was defeated by 295 votes to 233.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Complaint of bias over Communities First newsletter featuring Labour party candidate

A complaint has been submitted to Wrexham council following the distribution of the latest Communities First newsletter across the Caia Park and Hightown areas of Wrexham. The publication, which includes the logo's of the Welsh Government and Wrexham council, features no less than 5 pictures of former Wrexham Labour MP Ian Lucas, including 2 on the front page.

An official complaint has been made to Wrexham council who manage Communities First locally. The council’s legal officer Trefor Coxon has confirmed that the matter is now being investigated and that the council have instructed Communities First to stop delivering the newsletter with immediate effect whilst this investigation takes place.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary candidate for Wrexham said: 

" With just 3 weeks to the General Election, we are currently in a pre election period. Local authorities have a legal obligation not to publish any material which appears to support a political party, people identified with a political party or that could influence voters in any way. 

"Communities First is publicly funded and is managed by Wrexham council. The leaflet in question contains numerous pictures of Ian Lucas, two on the front page, with even more inside. There are also additional pictures featuring Mr Lucas's wife and Labour county councillors. At first glance I thought it was a Labour party leaflet, the newsletter is intended to go out to thousands of local people in the Caia Park and Hightown area."

"This perceived bias towards the Labour party from Communities First is clearly inappropriate generally but especially during the election period."

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Create a North Wales powerhouse in Wrexham – Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood has backed Wrexham to become the powerhouse of North Wales by calling for moving specific Welsh Government functions to help deliver a devolution dividend for all Wales outside Cardiff Bay.

On a visit to Wrexham this morning, Leanne Wood said: “Plaid Cymru, as the Party of Wales, wants the Assembly to work for all of Wales. That’s not always been the case with the Labour-run government, which has chosen to blow £1 billion on an M4 by-pass for Newport rather than choosing to invest in much-needed infrastructure here in the North.

 “Plaid Cymru is committed to making sure devolution works for every part of Wales, including the north-east. We want to see, for example, some functions of Welsh Government run from Wrexham so that we create a real Northern powerhouse here. Wrexham and Flintshire are already great centres of manufacturing and innovation, there are excellent colleges and Glyndwr University to back up that economic development. We need to see a real commitment from the Welsh Government to boosting Wrexham as an important centre in the North.”

Friday, 3 April 2015





Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has today urged her party's activists to "seize the momentum" gained by success in last night's televised debate and work like never before to deliver the best for Wales.

The response to Leanne Wood's performance both on social media and by political commentators was phenomenal, with a range of analysts recognising that her message would have been well received by the people of Wales. 

Brandwatch React’s instant feedback tables showed that Plaid Cymru had the best percentage of positive to negative mentions on Twitter tonight.

The Daily Telegraph’s tracker put Leanne Wood in second place with 66% cheers, more than twice as much positive support as David Cameron and a 19% higher cheer rating than Ed Miliband.

Meanwhile, Twitter analytic experts, Blurrt UK, also agreed that Leanne Wood was consistently rated among the top performers.

In addition, there were very positive signs for the Plaid Cymru leader in the sub-samples of opinion polls. Despite being on a smaller scale, these samples indicated that people in Wales were more likely to vote for Plaid Cymru as a result of Leanne Wood's performance.

Leanne Wood said:

"We have received some great feedback for Plaid Cymru's messages which I was able to convey to the widest audience we have ever addressed as a party.

"The reaction from people not just in Wales but throughout the UK and beyond has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly on social media.

"Last night's line-up showed that the face of UK politics has changed.

"I was pleased to be able to put across Plaid Cymru's positive message that there is an alternative to cuts and that our party will give Wales the strongest voice possible in Westminster.

"This weekend, our activists will be seizing this momentum and taking this message to every corner of Wales. Street by street, conversation by conversation, Plaid Cymru is convincing people that this is not as good as it gets for Wales.

"The Westminster parties have failed our nation. With clear plans to grow the economy, create jobs and protect our public services, a vote for Plaid Cymru on May 7th will secure the best deal possible for Wales in Westminster."

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

So how many houses does Wrecsam need?

Every local council has to produce a Local Development Plan to provide a framework for the area in terms of allocating land for housing, industry, leisure etc.
 Wrecsam Council had its LDP rejected by the Welsh Government on the basis that it didn't provide enough housing between now and 2028. The Welsh Government has based housing numbers on a population projection that would see the county borough's population rise 22% by 2035 - a leap that would be unprecedented and is not mirrored in any other council area in North Wales.
 It is, quite simply, a finger in the air exercise with no scientific basis. Even if there was a logic to it, it is not a desirable outcome to see such a rapid growth in the town's population when we know that the existing infrastructure - health, education, transport and public services - are already creaking.
 The original LDP allocated land for about 8,000 new homes - a significant growth but one that was felt to be manageable and organic as the growth was spread throughout the villages and towns.

 The council is now consulting on LDP2, which generously offers three options based on Welsh Minister Carl Sargeant's population projections:

1. 13,010 new homes
2. 11,030 new homes
3. 10,100 new homes

And that's it.
 This is not a grassroots consultation to assess how many homes are needed in, say, Coedpoeth or Marchwiel in the coming 15 years. The numbers involved mean that large-scale new villages or commuter estates will be created along the A483 corridor - effectively creating an urban sprawl from Gresford to Ruabon. We've already seen developers apply for hundreds of houses at Llay and Rhosrobin, with planning permission for 319 homes granted on Monday for Ruabon. This is just the start of a process that could see huge swathes of green barrier Tarmaced in the name of progress.

 These large-scale sites do not deliver affordable homes - they are designed for commuters to get onto the A483 as quickly as possible. Now any fool knows that the A483 has already reached capacity further along at the Posthouse roundabout and no amount of rejigging there is going to end the chaos soon. Planners don't seem to do joined-up thinking because these housing developments are not connected with industry or jobs.
Any serious plan in this day and age needs to be looking at reducing carbon footprints, reducing travel by car and creating employment opportunities within communities. 

But the madness of the plan is only really exposed when you look at the amount of houses that would have to be built every year from now until 2028.

If the lowest target is approved, you're talking about 710 homes every year.
The middle target inreases that to 770 houses a year.
The highest target would mean an eye-watering 910 homes a year being built.

To put that into context, last year 215 homes were built and over the past 10 years it's been an average of 426 - that includes the massive housing boom. At its height, the boom in 2006-7 saw 945 homes built.

Council planners, under threat from a Labour Welsh Government that knows nothing and cares less about communities, are trying to railroad through a plan that can't work. What it will do though is open the floodgates for many speculative housing developments that will see more commuter estates created around the borough, putting more and more pressure on schools and health services as well as clogging up our roads.

• As an aside, the draft LDP has a "vision" that can only have been written by someone with a loose grip on reality (as well as the English language). The LDP's proposed vision states: "By 2028, Wrexham will be a place where people can live active, healthy and independent lives; our economy will be strong, resilient and responsive to our strategic location within North East Wales and in close proximity to the North West of England. Wrexham will be a place where everyone feels safe and included, which reduces inequalities and a place that positively responds to the quality and distinctiveness of our natural, built heritage and culture assets"

 The only surprise is that the work "sustainable" wasn't included, as it's almost compulsory for council officers to include it somewhere. Perhaps someone belatedly realised that the entire document isn't sustainable and will not leave communities stronger or safer.