Thursday, 31 March 2016

New village on Wrexham's outskirts prompts local concerns

Local residents have highlighted huge concerns about plans to build a new village between Bersham and Ruthin Road in Wrexham.

The new village proposed for Ruthin Road

About 40 people attended a public meeting organised by Plaid Cymru last night about the council's plan to allocate farmland for 1260 houses on the western outskirts of Wrexham.

Many local residents attended and raised concerns about the impact the development would have on drainage, sewerage, the roads, health services and schools.
Among the speakers were Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's Wrexham candidate, who said: "There's nothing local about this Local Development Plan. It's being driven by Welsh Government planning inspectors who are imposing an artificially high population projection on the local council. This, in turn, is forcing Wrexham Council to devise a plan that will see thousands of new houses built on greenfield sites and playing fields

"I'm all in favour of affordable housing to rent or buy but this will be a huge commuter estate lacking community facilities and any kind of identity."

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru's Clwyd South candidate and a campaigner with the North Wales Health Alliance, raised concerns about the impact the development would have on an already struggling NHS locally: "At a time when we see ambulances queuing outside the Maelor, can we really cope with the additional population being projected by this plan?"

Local concerns included the fact that the land had been found to be too waterlogged to be used as a cemetery site in recent years. Adjoining land, the meeting was told, was already prone to flooding and the development would only make matters worse.

People from Brymbo highlighted the promises made by developers about new housing developments that were later broken and there was concern that the council would not be willing to stand up to housing corporations.

Cllr Marc Jones, who chaired the meeting said: "The meeting was full of people concerned and angry about this LDP. We were united in wanting to oppose the Local Development Plan, which could see Wrexham effectively merge with neighbouring villages to create one urban sprawl. Anyone wishing to oppose the LDP has until 5pm on Friday to submit concerns to planning_policy@wrexham.gov.uk."
Plaid Cymru is organising another public meeting at St John's Church on Borras Road, Wrexham (next to the Spider Park) tonight at 7.30pm to provide information about the plans to develop a new 1500-house village on the Cefn Road on Ysgol Morgan Llwyd playing fields and the rugby club grounds. All welcome to attend.


The new village proposed for Cefn Road - on the rugby club grounds and Ysgol Morgan Llwyd playing fields



Monday, 28 March 2016

Public meetings to oppose thousands of homes on Wrexham's green fields

Public meetings to oppose plans to build thousands of extra homes on green fields and playing pitches across Wrexham are being held next week.

The two meetings - on Wednesday and Thursday - come before the deadline for the Local Development Plan public consultation on April 1st.

The information meetings are being organised by Plaid Cymru, which has consistently opposed plans to build on greenfield sites.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate for Wrexham, said: "The Welsh Government is insisting that Wrexham Council allocates land for 12,000 homes in the borough by 2028. It's the green light for developers to build on playing fields and green fields across the borough rather than ensuring that affordable houses are built on brownfield sites.

"The council's original plan was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate, which insisted on these extra houses. The two biggest sites will basically be commuter estates. The first is 1260 houses planned for Lower Berse Farm between Ruthin Road and Bersham Road just off the A483.


"The second would be for 1500 homes on Ysgol Morgan Llwyd's playing fields and fields surrounding the rugby club down Brynestyn Lane. 



"Our concerns are that these housing allocations are being made because the Welsh Government's population projections are for a 20% increase in the borough's population - far greater than any other part of Wales apart from Cardiff. There is no logic to this.

"The increase in housing would mean the loss of important green space and playing fields. It would also mean greater pressures on our schools, health and other public services at a time of cutbacks. Our hospital can't cope as things stand, imagine how things would be with an extra 30,000 people in the area.

"What this means specifically for Ysgol Morgan Llwyd is a loss of its existing playing fields - at a time when the school is expected to increase in numbers. Where exactly are those children expected to play if this house-building plan gets the go ahead?

"This would also pose huge challenges for our road and transport networks, which also struggles to cope at the moment. There is no infrastructure planning to meet this supposed demand and that's why we're calling for these huge housing schemes to be scrapped."


Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid's Clwyd South candidate, added: "The council's original plan consulted extensively with people and found an overwhelming majority in favour of maintaining our green fields and only building on former industrial or retail sites. The directive from the Welsh Government would see Wrexham's boundaries expand significantly to both the east and west and see green fields that separate the town from surrounding villages effectively disappear."

The public meetings are open to all and will outline the proposals and how they can be opposed. The first is at 7.30pm at Parciau Community Centre in Bellevue Park, Wrexham, on Wednesday and the second is at St John's Church on Borras Road (next to the Spider Park) in Acton, Wrexham. For more information contact Carrie Harper on plaidwrecsam@gmail.com.

• The full list of candidate sites is at http://wrexhamldp.wrexham.gov.uk/ and you have until April 1 to object or make comments to planning_policy@wrexham.gov.uk.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Final stretch for ‘Save the Groves’ campaign?


Campaigners who have been fighting to save the former Grove Park school from demolition have received some good news today. In a late but welcome move, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates has announced that he is now “minded to list Grove Park school”, subject to an Independent Peer review.

This means that Wrexham council’s plans to demolish are on hold pending the listing decision, which is expected in April. If the listing goes ahead, Grove park school will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

Whilst there are still no guarantees, it seems that pressure from campaigners has made a huge difference in this case. It would appear that relentless lobbying and campaigning from the dedicated people running the Save Our Heritage group could well win the day.

This is potentially a huge victory for people power and hopefully the first of many occasions where Wrexham council doesn’t simply get to do what it wants regardless of what we think.



Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Stop Wrecking Wrexham - public meeting

A public meeting to unite everyone concerned for the future of Wrexham is being held on Wednesday evening, March 16.
The public meeting organised by Plaid Cymru in the Lager Club from 7pm on Wednesday will hear speakers outline how the local council and Welsh Government has helped "wreck" Wrexham.
Elaine Guntrip-Thomas from the Save our Heritage group campaigning to save the Groves from demoltion will be among the speakers and she will be joined by Pete Garrett from the Splash Magic campaign to keep Plas Madoc Leisure Centre open.
Local historian and writer Phil Phillips will also outline some of the heritage lost locally and Cllr Marc Jones will speak on the Local Development Plan and the council's intention to build two new villages on greenfield sites.
Concerns about the future of our local health services in terms of GP services, local community hospitals and pressures on Wrexham Maelor hospital will also be raised.
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate in May's election, said:
"There's a wide range of concerns about the way things are going in Wrexham at present.
"Important decisions are being made without consultation with the wider public, in fact against the wishes of the public. Our heritage, important buildings and our green fields are at risk because we have a council and government that are unwilling to listen to local people and seem to have an agenda of their own.
"This is intended to be a positive meeting because we've seen, for example with Plas Madoc, how a community can fight back and win against all the odds. So we take our inspiration from there and we're determined not to let the powers-that-be wreck Wrexham with their policies."
Doors open at 7pm and the meeting starts soon after.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Gobowen patients from North Wales made to wait longer

Are patients waiting due to Betsi financial problems?

Here is the funding crisis facing Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in its rawest form. 

A consultant from the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital at Gobowen states that his patient's urgent surgery has been put "on hold until the new financial year when her Health Authority in North Wales may be able to sanction the surgery."

She's not alone - Plaid Cymru has uncovered evidence that BCUHB is routinely delaying treatment at Gobowen so that patients from the North are waiting months longer than patients from England and other parts of Wales.

Concerns over these “unacceptable” delays for patients from north Wales waiting to attend the Gobowen orthopaedic hospital have prompted calls by Plaid Cymru for an urgent review into whether funding is being withheld because it’s the end of the financial year.

 Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said the maximum waiting time for patients from the Betsi Cadwaladr health board area was more than double that of patients from England and other parts of Wales.

He said notes from a meeting to discuss risk management last month revealed that BCUHB patients were having to wait 52 weeks for treatment due to the health board wanting to delay access to save funding in this financial year. 

Mr Gruffydd added
“BCUHB seems to be operating a policy of not treating patients according to need but according to the health board’s financial position.

“The Welsh Government also has some explaining to do. It’s put Betsi in special measures and therefore has direct oversight of this issue. The Government’s three-year rolling budgets was supposed to prevent end-of-year financial pressures but this is clearly not the case. What we’re seeing is financial considerations taking precedence over clinical need and that is clearly unacceptable.

“One doctor writes in sheer frustration about the added problems his patient has faced because of the delay – making that patient’s care more complex and costly. It’s a false economy and I’ve asked for an urgent meeting with the new chief executive of BCUHB for an explanation.

“I’ll also be asking whether the health board’s financial problems are leading to operations and treatments in other English hospitals being delayed into the new financial year. If that’s the case, it’s a scandal and the health minister has significant questions to answer.”

The report of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt (Gobowen) hospital task and finish group states: “Clearly Welsh patients are at a significant disadvantage – waiting much longer than English patients. However, this is due to commissioning intention rather than just RJAH rules.”

It goes on: “There is clear evidence that Welsh patients are not being treated chronologically even within themselves, never mind in comparison to English patients. Whilst it needs to be understood further, this is likely to be the impact of BCU insisting no patient be treated until they reach a 52-week wait in the month.” (p27, task and finish group minutes).

• If you've been waiting too long for treatment at Gobowen, please contact llyr.plaid@gmail.com
  
Patients from:
Internal Standard
England

Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
6 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
11 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
18 weeks
Betsi Cadwaladr Local Health Board
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
20 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
34 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
52 weeks
Powys Local Health Board: Spinal Disorders, Upper Limb & Foot/Ankle
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
20 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
34 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
40 weeks
Other Welsh Patients
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
8 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
16 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
26 weeks

Plaid Wrecsam meets doctors' leaders to discuss GP crisis

Plaid Cymru members from Wrecsam met with officials of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales at the Party of Wales's conference in Llanelli this weekend.

Councillor Arfon Jones, who also chairs Wrexham Community Health Council and who recently arranged the well-attended meeting about the resignation of GP's of the Penymaes Surgery, said:

"We were fortunate to have the Royal College at our conference and their manifesto contains some commonsense policies on how to alleviate the current crisis in primary care.
"For example we heard that it's much more expensive for health boards to run primary care than it is for GP practices, which shows that primary care is underfunded.
"They also call for more support early on for practices under threat of closure as Wales needs 400 GPs. This vacancy rate and lack of resilience justifies Plaid Cymru's calls for 1000 more doctors and 5000 more nurses to meet demand in both the community and our hospitals.
"I have also invited Dr Paul Myers, past chair of the Royal College and a retired Overton GP, to a meeting of the North Wales Community Health Council to share his knowledge and possible solutions to the problems faced by primary care providers in North Wales."

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Welsh Government allows developers "green light" over greenfield sites

This letter by Cllr Arfon Jones, Plaid Cymru's representative for Gwersyllt West, outlines the way in which Welsh Government minister Carl Sargeant has moved the goalposts over planning. It effectively gives developers the green light to target greenfield sites for housing.

Dear Editor,

The reply by the Welsh Government denying responsibility for forcing Wrexham Council to build houses on the greenbelt is both misleading and disingenuous. (Welsh Govt claim Wrexham fields building plan has nothing to do with them) Post February 20th.

The Joint Housing Land Availability Studies Group in Wrexham have in the past determined the amount of land that is available for house building for the next 5 years and how many houses will be built annually. This figure was based on the average house build over the previous 5 years. Due to the low number of completions since 2008, the Minister, Carl Sargeant decided arbitrarily to increase the period from 5 to 10 years to justify much higher level of build based on the boom years.

The effect of this change by the Minister was to increase the number of houses to be built and decreasing the number of years of land supply from just under 5 years to 3.6 years.

The Minister has now decided that if a council does not have a 5 years supply then they have none... zero.

The Welsh Government's Spatial Plan, Technical Advice Notes and a myriad of other guidance state that if a council does not have a 5-year land supply and no Local Development Plan then the law and guidance will allow for building on the greenbelt.

Make no mistake about it, the number of houses that Wrexham are required to build is forced upon them by the actions of the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant and his not-so-independent Planning Inspectorate to keep developers happy and to ignore the needs of local people.


Cllr Arfon Jones