Thursday, 11 May 2017

Only Plaid can defend Wrexham from the Tories

Plaid Cymru's Wrexham candidate Carrie Harper with party leader Leanne Wood.
The General Election on June 8th is an opportunity to defend Wales and our communities here in Wrexham.

That's the stark message from Plaid Cymru's candidate in Wrexham, Carrie Harper.

Councillor Harper, who last week won a second term as councillor in Queensway ward in the heart of Caia Park, said Wrexham cannot continue to vote Labour to stop the Tories: 
"With 82% of all MPs being based in England and polls showing a likely Tory landslide across the border, the simple maths mean that voting Labour to keep the Tories out in Wales is a nonsense. It seems there will be Tory Government in London whether we vote for it or not.

"That, combined with a weak Labour party intent on pulling itself to pieces, leaves Welsh communities vulnerable and at the mercy of an emboldened Tory Government in Westminster.

"Wales now faces the dual threat of the economic fallout from a hard Brexit and ​Teresa May
​being given ​the green light to destroy the NHS in England and continue to batter working-class communities like ours with cuts for the poor and tax cuts for the rich.
​ We must defend ourselves.​

​ "The Tories will be speaking for England, the SNP for Scotland. Where is the voice of Wales? We cannot afford to be the forgotten nation under this cloud of economic and political uncertainty.​

"Wrexham has voted Labour for almost a century and we've got precious little in return in recent years. It's time for change. It's time to stand up for ourselves.

"Only Plaid Cymru can defend Wales and our communities from the Tories. Only Plaid Cymru will put Wales first. I'm asking you to elect your local candidate Carrie Harper as Wrexham's next MP and play your part in defending our nation."


Councillor Marc Jones, another newly elected councillor for Plaid Cymru in Wrexham, added: "We've seen a surge in support for Plaid Cymru - our vote in the Wrexham constituency was up 17% in the council elections and it's clear from the growth in members and supporters that people see us as a credible opposition to the Tories.

"Labour and UKIP's vote collapsed across Wales in the council elections last week, while Plaid surged to its best-ever result bar one. We now have 202 councillors compared to the Tories 184 in Wales. Carrie Harper deserves our support because she will stand up for communities that the Tories will trash if they are returned to power."


Plaid Cymru's Westminster election campaign will be officially launched in Wrexham town centre at 11am this Saturday by the Horse and Jockey pub on Regent St. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Plaid Cymru calls for end to backroom deals and stitch-ups on council

Plaid Cymru's new group of councillors have pledged to work to make Wrexham Council more open and democratic, criticising the previous culture of backroom deals and stitch-ups.

A statement by new councillors Marc Jones (Grosvenor), Gwenfair Jones (Gwersyllt West) and Carrie Harper (Queensway) said:
"We're very proud to be elected to serve our communities and grateful for the support Plaid Cymru has received across the borough. 
"Our task now is to implement as much of our manifesto as we can and work with everybody who wants to change Wrexham for the better. 
"People have felt in the past that the council doesn't listen, isn't responsive and is happy to do deals behind closed doors. That's got to change if the council is to win back confidence from the people who elect them. 
"One specific problem we have is that Wrexham now has two groups of independents who effectively act as political parties but don't declare that in their leaflets. They divvy up jobs on the council behind closed doors and will be deciding on who will get the top jobs. How many people voted for independents believing that was the way forward? 
"Independents should not be able to act as secret parties unless they're willing to sign up to an agreed set of policies in advance. With a few honourable exceptions, the so-called independent councillors are already in the pockets of one of the two independent groups that operate on the council. 
"We want to shine a spotlight on how the council is run. We want greater democracy and for residents to have a greater say.

"During the election campaign, we distributed thousands of copies of our detailed manifesto to voters. It's online at www.plaidwrecsam.cymru and we'll be using that as a plan of action over the coming weeks and months to highlight ways to involve the people in decision making."

Friday, 5 May 2017

Plaid makes progress in Wrexham

Plaid Cymru has continued to make progress in Wrexham as part of an upsurge in support across Wales.

The Party of Wales stood more candidates than ever in last night's council elections in Wrexham.

Three were elected - Gwenfair Jones in Gwersyllt West, Marc Jones in Grosvenor and Carrie Harper in Queensway - and two missed out by just 10 and 30 votes respectively.

All gained respectable votes - see full results here.

Plaid Wrexham's chair Marc Jones said: "I'm delighted to be part of a strong team of Plaid Cymru councillors that will be pushing our agenda for change on the new council.

 "I'm disappointed that we weren't joined by more, especially given the tight margins in some seats, but we have the momentum going into the UK election to show that Plaid Cymru is offering Wales a shield, defending the people of Wrexham from the worst excesses of a Tory government hell-bent on slashing public services, attacking the poor and endangering jobs with a Hard Brexit."

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Born in England. Made in Wales.

A personal journey

by Louis Goodier

Born in England, made in Wales.

Not because I was conceived here, but rather the fact that when I moved here in 2011 my eyes were opened, wide. 

Now I’ll make this clear, I’m not ashamed to be English, why should I? Everyone should be proud of their country of birth.

I’ve travelled the world watching England, taking in the culture and giving my football shirts to kids who had no shoes on their feet. What I am ashamed of is the way I had my eyes closed for so many years to the politics and how we are led to believe that we are in control because we live in a democratic society, but in actual fact we are controlled by the media and Westminster. Much more than we realise.

In 2011 I announced to my family and friends I was moving from Cheshire (where I had grown up on council estates and had lived for 26 of my 28 years), and that I was moving to Wrexham. The response, as you could probably imagine, was mixed.

 “What are you moving there for” said one. “You know that Wrexham is in the biggest county in England don’t you” said another laughing as he muttered something about sheep.

 I’ll be honest, I also had my own doubts. I didn’t know anyone except my girlfriend (now wife), and Wrexham after all had a reputation of being a tough, hard working-class town, the riots in 2003, the infamous Frontline, numerous TV trash programmes such as “Britain’s hardest pubs” and “Cops UK".
The picture painted wasn’t appealing.
Moving here was a personal challenge and in all fairness those first two years trying to settle
in Wrexham were pretty tough. This told me that the people of Wrexham are protective,
either that or they didn’t like me!
During the run up to the 2012 local elections, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn
more about the town and often used it as a conversation starter. I’ll always remember a
conversation with a taxi driver who was wearing a Wales rugby shirt. It was the last round of
fixtures of the Six Nations which Wales had won. 

“Plaid should do well in May,” I said, “don’t you think?” 
“Plaid? I’m Labour always have been mate, Plaid don’t have a chance” 
“But you’re a proud Welshman and Labour don’t really give a dam, not really they don’t” 
“My vote wouldn’t count mate, they’re all the same anyway and it’s better the devil you know”. 

He turned his radio up to listen to Welsh fans in Cardiff on the radio phone-in and to signal the end of the conversation but not before turning to me and saying: “I’m glad you lot didn’t win the Six Nations, I can’t stand you English”.
 Needless to say I waited for my 30p change.
Around this time I took an interest in Welsh history and educated myself on Welsh politics. Naturally I got around to Tryweryn valley, Aberfan, Owain Glyndŵr and of course the significance of the song “Men of Harlech” to name a few.

It was only then that I realised how much Wales and her population had been systematically shafted by England repeatedly. That the United Kingdom was in fact a farce and a massive cover up to mask the abuse. My political views changed, primarily because of where I now called home but also dictated by my social conscience and integrity.

Why would I now vote for a party or an individual who has no interest, care or regard for the town or country that I live in? Why would anyone vote for that? We are all essentially interviewing individuals and then deciding on the best person for a job.

The people of Scotland have woken up and have turned their backs on Labour and have embraced the SNP with phenomenal support. And just like the British Empire, which was eventually dissolved 1997, the break up of the Union is imminent and will effectively make Wales the largest county in England and no one to represent it or protect its best interests.

The people of Wrexham are proud to be Welsh, and rightly so. They are also loyal and protective and will fight for what they believe in. Most don’t know how lucky they are to have a viable alternative to vote for in Plaid. 

A vote for Labour or Conservative is a vote lost for Wrexham and Wales and instead it becomes a vote for London and England.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Labour's porky pies over Plas Madoc

Labour's attempts to re-write history over their council's decision to close Plas Madoc Leisure Centre are reaching epic proportions. And no wonder given their pathetic role in closing the popular pool and leisure complex.

Back in 2014 the Labour-run council voted to close the centre after an expensive consultants' report recommended a drastic cut in funding for leisure services.

Public protests were ignored by both Labour, Tory and some Independent councillors who voted for the closure.
Plaid Cymru and some independents voted against the closure, arguing that leisure centres were an important resource and service that should be supported.

Now the election is upon us and those councillors who made the decision are in the firing line from campaigners, who vowed to remind voters how their councillors voted over Plas Madoc.

Among those copping flak was Plas Madoc's own councillor Paul Blackwell, who abstained on possibly the most important issue the ward has faced for a decade.


His leaflet was equally bizarre, claiming the leisure centre was closed to save other vital services being cut. Ah, so that's alright then. 

Vital services such as the mayor, councillors' iPads or perhaps the £2.1m paid to consultants?

Cllr Blackwell apparently had the foresight to see that closing the centre would result in it being re-opened by a community-run venture.



Retiring (in the sense of standing down) Labour councillor Andrew Bailey then stepped in... 
Andrew Bailey So Marc you would cut £1/2m elsewhere - please let us know. ,
LikeReply120 April at 21:05
Marc Jones Let's see... £100,000 from cllrs pay rises per year, £138,000 from the mayor, a small slice of the £2.1m spent on consultants and throw in a few iPads for good measure.
LikeReply720 April at 21:07
Marc Jones You were happy enough to give £100,000 to the trust, so that's £400,000 a year savings to find.
LikeReply220 April at 21:08
Andrew Bailey absolutely happy to give the trust £100,000 loan over two years to get them going. The painful truth is that Plas Madoc had been ignored by the coalitions in charge of WCBC for years including the one you served on 2008-2012 and was costing the council...See more


Cllr Bailey wasn't giving up and attempted the re-write history by blaming Plaid Cymru councillors... for keeping it open!

In another Facebook comment he claimed: 

"Plaid, as part of the 2008-12 coalition did nowt then to 'save our services' as Plas Madoc was in a poor physical state and losing £500k when they lost their seats. On a much better path now!"

A devastating critique. Except that the coalition, of which Plaid was a part, kept it open.

How fortunate that he, like his fellow Labour councillor, had the foresight to close the centre in order to save it.

The centre was finally closed in March 2014 and only opened in December 2014 after a huge effort by community campaigners. It could all have been so different had the Labour council listened to campaigners and looked to make savings while keeping it open. 

Of course, there was money available for some people - Capita, a notorious consultancy firm, was paid £140,000 for its report advocating the closure of Plas Madoc.

Can you ever trust Labour councillors who'd rather listen to consultants than the community?


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Safer playground success for Plaid councillor

Gwenfair Jones with local mums and their children looking forward to a safer playground.


A Gwersyllt community councillor is celebrating after years of campaigning to make a play area safe for toddlers. Gwenfair Jones has been campaigning for years to make the playground at New Road, Summerhill, safe by fencing the area off and putting a new gate in.

The delay had been caused due to protracted negotiations between Gwersyllt Community Council and the trustees of the adjacent Summerhill Institute.

The play park is well used by both local children and those that attend the Cylch Meithrin and Ti a Fi Welsh playgroups at the Institute

Gwenfair, who is also the Plaid Cymru candidate for the Gwersyllt West ward in the council elections, said: 
"I have been concerned for a long time about the security of the park. Whenever we take the children there we have to have one parent on the gate to make sure children don't run into the road as New Road is a bus route. I am very grateful to the community council for supporting this and to the trustees of the Institute for permitting us to build the fence.

"The fencing will also separate the play area from the field used by dog walkers and there is a lot of dog mess on there."
She went on to say: 
"I very much hope that parents will now feel that their children are safe and secure whilst playing there."

Monday, 24 April 2017

End to Ruabon housing blight welcomed

News that houses dubbed an eyesore on Ruabon High Street will be knocked down with affordable houses built in their place has been warmly welcomed by community campaigners.

A row of houses were built on the old garage site on the High Street 15 years ago, but were never completed or occupied. Over the years the land became overgrown and the houses vandalised.

Plaid Cymru and community campaigners Mabon ap Gwynfor and Pol Wong launched a campaign to resolve the issue two years ago. Their campaign was inspired by the work of the late Cllr Barrie Price who had fought for many years to tackle the problem before his untimely passing in 2011.

Pol Wong, who runs a gym in Ruabon and is Plaid Cymru's candidate in next week's county council elections, said:
 “Barrie fought tirelessly for Ruabon. He was a true champion of the village. He worked hard to try and resolve the issue around these derelict houses and I'm so glad that it appears they have finally been resolved.”
Mabon ap Gwynfor who launched the petition two years ago said:
 “These houses have been a blight in Ruabon for many years. I remember discussing the issue with Barrie Price as far back as 2010, which is why we re-launched the campaign two years ago. Credit must go to the local community council for keeping the issue alive.  "The people of the village were keen to get something done and signed the petition in their hundreds. We now look forward to seeing these houses knocked down and affordable houses built so that local people have the option of staying in their community.”

Friday, 21 April 2017

'Train more doctors' urges Plaid candidate as GPs quit Wrexham practice

The announcement that GPs at the popular Borras Park Surgery are to give up their practice is another warning that Wales needs to recruit and train more doctors.

That's the message from Darren Picken, Plaid Cymru's candidate for Borras, who said:
"The doctors' surgery in Borras has recently become a major concern due to the current doctors issuing notice that their contract is coming to an end in six months. The surgery is assuring all its patients that the two GPs will continue as normal for the next 6 months and all GP services will continue from then on. 
"I've contacted the surgery after many residents expressed concerns and have been reassured. The surgery is safe and will continue as normal. Rumours and scaremongering are leading to many residents assuming the worst but the official letter states there is no fear of closure or lack of the existing services."
The news about the surgery is the latest in a long line of announcements from GPs across the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board area that they are giving up their practices with no replacement GPs available.

Mr Picken added: 
"In other areas, surgeries have been taken over by the health board and run with directly employed doctors. This is one option for Borras from October.

"However, we need a longer-term strategy to support our GPs and other community health workers. Plaid Cymru has warned about the coming GP recruitment crisis for three years now and have called for 1000 extra doctors to be trained and recruited in Wales. 




"That's why we've argued consistently for a Medical School here in north Wales. The pressures on our GPs are intolerable but the Labour Welsh Government has ignored those calls and the problem has grown."


Betsi Cadwaladr health board has been under direct control of the Labour Government for the past two years now.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Firefighters back Plaid candidate in Rhosddu

The firefighters' union has backed Plaid Cymru candidate Marc Jones after his work campaigning to save one of Wrexham's fire engines and 24 jobs.

A letter from Fire Brigades Union Wales chair Cerith Griffiths says:
“Marc Jones worked tirelessly with local and national representatives of the Fire Brigades Union to keep re ghters' jobs and one of our two whole-time re appliances in Wrexham. He organised a very successful march through town and collected thousands of signatures to challenge the Fire Authority's plans.  "He would make an outstanding councillor for his area." 
Marc Jones said:
"I've worked with local firefighters, who I consider to be friends and neighbours, since they went on strike back in 2003. I edited the FBU's strike bulletin in Wales on a voluntary basis back then.
"The threat to one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines and 24 firefighters' jobs at a time when arsons were on the increase was nonsensical and we got together to make sure that people knew about the threat to this important emergency service.
"The strength of feeling was clear in the response to the petitions as we knocked doors and then in the mass march through town behind the FBU banner. The battle within the Fire Authority was won but we have to remain on our guard for the future."
He added:
"I'm very grateful to Cerith and the FBU for its support and will continue to work with local firefighters to protect jobs and services in Wrexham regardless of whether I'm elected or not on May 4th."


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Former mayor inspires grand-daughter to stand for council

Sarah Roberts - following in her grandfather's footsteps

Council housing pioneer spurs on Plaid Cymru candidate

The grand-daughter of a well-known former mayor of Wrexham has paid tribute to his example as she stands as a candidate in Wrexham's council elections on 4th May.

Sarah Roberts, the granddaughter of Herbert Jennings, is Plaid Cymru’s candidate in Brynyffynon ward where she has lived for 30 years.

Sarah, a local business owner and campaigner on a range of local issues, said:
"My Grandfather, although he is no longer with us, is my political mentor. He was a mayor of our town in 1953 and was responsible for building homes that took Wrexham people out of the slums and into decent housing. He was a man of the people with a strong sense of fairness and honesty and he stood by the people that entrusted their vote to him. Herbert Jennings Avenue was named after a real person!
 "I too have inherited his sense of valuing people and their opinions. I strongly believe that honest and transparent communication builds confidence and trust. I also feel that we should all be allowed to be part of decision making which effects our lives and where we live.
"Plaid Cymru is a party which aligns itself with my political ideals. It is a grass roots party which listens and works for people. It acts on its beliefs and is always at the forefront of campaigning for local issues."

Herbert Jennings was responsible for pushing through a programme of council house building that saw 2,000 new homes built in just three years - ensuring many people had indoor toilets for the first time and raising living standards overnight.

This kind of ambition and vision is sorely lacking today and Plaid Cymru is determined to push for a new generation of council-house building to help meet the demand of the 1800 people on the waiting list.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Failure to regenerate Penybryn 'a scar on the town'

Plaid candidate Phil Phillips stands up for Penybryn and Offa

Plaid candidate speaks up for forgotten part of Wrexham

Plaid Cymru's candidate for Offa ward says the failure to regenerate the Penybryn area is a scar on the town.

Phil Phillips, who has lived with his family in the Offa ward for 35 years, said:
"This is the first time I've stood for the council and I feel strongly that this part of town has been totally neglected by the council over many years.

"Both the Welsh Government and Wrexham Council promised to rejuvenate the Bridge Street area when they demolished virtually the whole street losing historic buildings and many well established businesses. The proposed 'regeneration' unfortunately blighted Penybryn as other businesses moved out in the wake of the development.
 
"That was back in 2004. We are now into 2017 and the situation in Penbryn has just got worse and worse. Not one brick has been laid in Bridge Street and the whole area including lower Bridge Street has been laid to waste. It is not the only part of Wrexham to be regenerated and it is a scar on the landscape. 
"When Wrexham Council was awarded £11m to make the town a vibrant and viable place it spent the money elsewhere. 
"I believe Offa deserves better and we need a change at the top in Wrexham Council so that all parts of the borough get a fair crack of the whip. If elected as the local councillor for this area I will fight tirelessly to regenerate the town centre and, in particular, Penybryn."
Mr Phillips, a former teacher and care worker, is a keen local historian and runs Wrexham Town Trails, which organises heritage walking tours of the town centre.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Plaid Cymru's Wrexham candidates unveiled

Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood and North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd with some of  Wrexham's local team of candidates.











Plaid Cymru has unveiled its strongest-ever team of candidates in Wrexham with almost a third of seats in the county borough being contested. 
  1. Gwersyllt W - Gwenfair Jones
  2. Queensway - Carrie Harper
  3. Smithfield - Paul Williams
  4. Cartrefle - Bryan Pritchard
  5. Offa - Phil Phillips
  6. Brynyffynnon - Sarah Roberts
  7. Hermitage - Jamie Hack
  8. Borras - Darren Picken
  9. Acton - Shaun Davies
  10. Whitegate - Iolanda Banu Viegas 
  11. Grosvenor - Marc Jones
  12. Dyffryn Ceiriog - Anne Lloyd Morris
  13. Penycae - Aled Powell
  14. Rhostyllen - Katie Courtney
  15. Ruabon - Pol Wong 
Plaid Cymru's Wrexham chair Marc Jones said: 
"We have a team with a wealth of talent and abilities who are deeply committed to their communities, where they live and work. We've all been working hard in our local communities over the years and this election is just the culmination of that hard work. It's a strong slate of candidates who will do their best for Wrexham."
 Plaid activists have been at the forefront of campaigns to 
• defend public services such as our fire engine,
• protect workers' jobs at Dee Valley Water,
• challenge poor council decisions such as closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, Nant Silyn and day care centres
• reject overspending on consultants, the mayor and councillors' iPads at a time of austerity
• oppose fracking and the environmental destruction of our environment with plans for 12,000 homes in Wrexham.
 Mr Jones added: 
"Many of our candidates joined Plaid Cymru through local campaigns and activism. They have seen that the natural home for people who are passionate about their community and town is Plaid Cymru and that's why we've put together the most comprehensive local manifesto possible to outline that vision we have to transform the town. 
"We all realise that the next few weeks will determine the course of how Wrexham is run for the next five years. If we don't get it right and see a drastic change in the way this council is run, then I fear for the worst. It's in the hands of the voters and I'm confident they will make the right decision for Wrexham."
 To read Plaid Cymru's local manifesto go to www.plaidwrecsam.cymru.


Monday, 3 April 2017

Plaid Cymru selects ex-nurse to replace popular Wrexham councillor



A popular Plaid Cymru councillor is standing down from Wrexham council and hoping to hand over the baton to his wife.

Arfon Jones, who was elected as North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner last May, is standing down as Gwersyllt West councillor on Wrexham Council at these elections, having refused to take any council allowance since starting his new post.

Gwenfair Jones will be standing for Plaid Cymru in Gwersyllt West in his place and is hoping to emulate his significant majority in the 2012 elections.

Gwenfair, a recently retired nurse who runs a luncheon club in the local area, said: 
“We’ve lived in Gwersyllt for 32 years and got to know the area well. Our children have grown up here and it’s now an opportunity for me to try to represent the area.
“As a community councillor for the past five years as well as being a district nurse in the local area until retiring recently, I understand the work that needs doing in Gwersyllt and Summerhill. I’m looking forward to being part of a strong team of Plaid Cymru councillors who will be the change that Wrexham needs.”

Arfon Jones added:
“I made it clear I would stand down at these elections and I have every confidence that Gwenfair will continue the good work already done locally. There’s still a lot to do.”

• Arfon was re-elected in 2012 with a crushing 64-36% majority over Labour in Gwersyllt West.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Popular Wrexham councillor stands down due to ill-health

Plaid Cymru's Smithfield candidate Paul Williams (left) with outgoing councillor Keith Gregory.

Smithfield rep passes on the baton to local activist

Ill-health has forced popular Smithfield councillor Keith Gregory to stand down after serving the community for nine years.

Cllr Gregory, of Colwyn Road, made his decision to stand down at this election after a serious and long-standing illness last year, from which he is still recovering.

Cllr Gregory said:
"It's been a difficult decision to take but my illness has taken its toll and I have been advised to concentrate on getting better. The pressure of council work would mean I wouldn't be doing justice to local residents so I've decided to call it a day on the county council.

"However I will be standing again for Caia Park community council and I'm very pleased to be handing on the torch to my fellow Plaid Cymru community councillor Paul Williams. He has my full backing and I'm sure, as a local resident, he will continue to stand up for the community of Smithfield."
Paul Williams, a former Sharp employee, is a community councillor and has lived in Bernard Road with his family for 22 years.

Cllr Williams said: 
"Keith will be a tough act to follow as he's given 100% to representing Smithfield and dealing with problems facing residents. I'm grateful for his support and determined to do my best for my community. 
Smithfield strongly supported our petition to keep the town's fire engine and I was pleased at the reception we received on the doorstep for that. 
"Like other parts of Wrexham, we see the need for a better council that's more answerable and open. I'm sure I'll be calling on Keith's support over the coming weeks as we aim to win Smithfield for Plaid Cymru as part of a strong group of new councillors."
Plaid Cymru's Wrexham chairperson Marc Jones said: 
"Keith has been a great councillor for Smithfield and worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the drug issue for years. We all wish him well as he continues to recover from major surgery and I'm very pleased he will continue as a community councillor. "Stepping into his shoes as Plaid Cymru's candidate in the area will be Paul Williams, a local community councillor who knows the area like the back of his hand. Paul will be a very able replacement for Keith if he's elected on May 4th."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Our emergency services are stretched to breaking point

Wrexham ambulance crews are being called to deal with emergencies in Flintshire 4,300 times a year - that's 12 callouts a day.

Over the past decade, cuts to our police, fire and ambulance services have caused cutbacks in the services.

Since 2008, public spending cuts imposed by successive Labour, Tory/Lib Dem and now Tory governments in London have led to a reduction in frontline services. These were, we were told, necessary to balance the books as the UK Government looked for savings after bailing out the bankers in the wake of the 2007-8 crash.

Here's where we are today locally:

FIRE
Plaid Cymru is proud to have supported firefighters in Wrexham and led to public campaign to retain 24 firefighters and one of our two whole-time fire appliances. 
 Thousands signed petitions, marched and protested against the proposal because of the undue risk it would have posed for people - especially with the added problem of arson attacks and a new prison on our doorstep.
 The campaign was won because the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority failed to persuade the public and, crucially, their own members that this was a cut that could be justified.
 But the threat to our services hasn't gone away. The NWFRA is still looking for cuts and we must continue to argue the case both locally and centrally for proper funding for our emergency services.

POLICE
Police services have been cut drastically in the past 10 years with fewer and fewer frontline police officer available to deal with problems we face in the town. In 2008 there were five police officers for an area such as Caia Park - one for each ward. Today there are just two with some back-up from PCSOs.
 This cut in frontline services is due to inadequate funding from Westminster, which still holds the purse strings on Welsh policing and criminal justice.

AMBULANCES
For years our ambulance services have been over-stretched due to problems with beds not being available in our district general hospitals and the closure of community hospitals. That's led to many ambulance crews being unavoidably detained outside Emergency Departments as hospital management tries to find spare beds for patients.
 Add to this a plan by neighbouring Flintshire to reduce night-time cover and you have a recipe for further disaster.
 Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has questioned why Flintshire’s night-time ambulance cover is being cut by 50% on Monday nights and by 25% on other nights when it already has the worst response rate to red callouts in north Wales.
The information is revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Assembly Member after Welsh Ambulance Service Trust managers denied a plan to reduce night-time cover in the county from April. That claim was made after Mr Gruffydd first raised concerns made to him by ambulance crews.
 The FOI shows that, in addition to answering just 63% of red callouts within the target eight minutes, crews from outside the county have been called out to Flintshire 8000 times in the past year. That amounts to more than four in 10 of the total calls made to the ambulance service in Flintshire.
Analysis of figures show that crews from outside Flintshire are dealing with 22 calls a day from Flintshire – a total of 8,081 in 2016. More than half of those were crews from Wrexham – who dealt with 4,308 calls in a year – followed by Denbighshire’s crews with 2,441.
Mr Gruffydd said: 
“This new information raises new concerns. It confirms that the Trust plans to reduce cover by a half on Monday nights and a quarter for five other nights from next month. I’d like to hear from the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust why they consider cover to be sufficient in Flintshire when they are so over-stretched that crews from surrounding areas and as far afield as Anglesey are having to come to the county to deal with 42% of all calls.“This clearly shows that there is a capacity problem in Flintshire itself as it is drawing on services in neighbouring counties and this, in turn, has a knock-on effect with crews in Denbighshire and Wrexham bearing the brunt. With that in mind, I’m hoping WAST can provide a simple explanation as to why night-time services are being cut in Flintshire rather than playing with words as they did last time.”
The impact of this on ambulance services in Wrexham is becoming acute. If ambulance crews are attending an average of 12 calls a day in Flintshire, that's 12 calls they can't respond to in good time in Wrexham.

Financial pressures on all our emergency services are driving a cuts agenda that is leading to a poorer service and all three working at - or beyond - capacity. It's unsustainable and the Tories have no intention of stopping their crusade to destroy our public services with their salami slicing of public funds.

Wales deserves better - we need to control our own budgets and invest in our most important public services.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Labour defector exposes "myth busters", cuts and lies

'Labour ran council in alliance with the Tories'

Labour's latest leaflet being distributed around Wrexham is boldly entitled "Myth busters". The main myth is that it doesn't run Wrexham Council and hasn't done since 2014 when half its group of councillors jumped ship and joined the independent/Tory coalition now running the council.

Labour's vain attempt to wash its hands of all responsibility for the various problems Wrexham faces is undermined by one of those defectors, Gwersyllt S & E Councillor Dave Griffiths.

In a letter to the Wrexham Leader on 21 March 2017 he takes issue with the "myth busters" leaflet.

Now Dave is an experienced former Labour councillor and ex-mayor, someone who was on the executive board from 2012-4. He knows what was going on.

His first statement of fact is that Labour was in an alliance with the Tories between 2012-14. So much for Labour demonising the Tory/independent coalition that currently runs the council... they were in an informal coalition with the same Tories for two years with Cllr Hugh Jones (Tory, Rossett) serving on the Executive Board.

Labour’s short spell in power was a disaster – they ignored public opinion, closed Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, numerous community centres and other local facilities and accepted pay rises and the undemocratic cabinet system. Little wonder they lost power amid huge internal wranglings. Again, Dave exposes their re-writing of history in his damning letter.

Far from opposing pay rises for councillors at a time of cuts, Labour went along with it.

The final myth is that Labour is opposed to the proposed Arts Hub. What it is trying to do in its latest leaflet is ride a wave of populist anti-council resentment and opportunistically claiming to oppose the new arts centre proposed for the People's Market.




Labour’s leaflet amounts to “don’t blame us, we were only in power for two years”. Labour in Wrexham is as divided and divisive as ever, offering nothing locally in terms of making our town a better place to live.There are positive alternatives to the current administration that do not involve a return to past failures.

Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales will be fielding a record number of candidates in the county council elections and has a detailed programme of action if elected. 

If you want to read our local Wrexham manifesto, please go to www.plaidwrecsam.cymru for a copy.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Care home lies idle at a cost of £7,000 to council

Phil Phillips, Plaid Cymru candidate for Offa ward, with Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood outside Nant Silyn.
A former worker at Nant Silyn care home has hit out at Wrexham Council's failure to make use of the building since closing it 13 months ago.

A Freedom of Information request by Plaid Cymru locally reveals that the council has spent £7,000 on the building on rates and security in the past year but that it has had no contact with the local health board to make use of the building.

Phil Phillips used to work at the care home, which also provided much-needed respite care in the community.

He's now a candidate for Plaid Cymru in the Offa ward and said: 
"Nant Silyn was systematically run down by the council over a number of years and, in the 13 months since it's closed, there doesn't seem to have been any move by the council to make use of the buildings.
"Before it closed, the council said it was in discussion with Betsi Cadwaladr health board to see what use could be made of the buildings, which have been modernised and could provide intermediate care in the community. I'm shocked and disappointed that no discussions have taken place since then."

He added: 
"Since it closed it's lain empty and unused. It's become a magnet for anti-social elements who have attempted to break in. The council needs to make use of its assets and this is a property that is lying idle, costing the council money. I would ask the council what are its plans for Nant Silyn and why isn't it talking to Betsi about making use of this facility?"

Plaid Cymru campaigned against the closure of the home, the last one run by Wrexham Council, and its council manifesto calls for the re-opening of the centre to meet health and social care needs in the borough. 

Read our manifesto in full at www.plaidwrecsam.cymru

Monday, 20 March 2017

People power saves Wrexham fire engine



People power looks to have saved one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines from the chop.

A decision by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority today in Wrexham to approve a plan that would have included cuts to frontline services was amended by Cllr Paul Pemberton to specifically dismiss any proposal to cut the Wrexham pump. The amendment carried 8-4.

Some interpret that as a temporary victory and it's perfectly possible for a new fire authority after the May elections to decide that frontline cuts will have to be made to balance the budget. However this decision, taken after heavy lobbying and mass protests, stops the planned cuts for now.

Plaid Cymru Wrexham chair Marc Jones, who led the Save our Services campaign, said: 

"This is a fantastic victory for people power in Wrexham. Against the odds, the Fire and Rescue Authority has seen sense and decided not to press ahead with plans to cut one of our two fire engines in the coming years. "Despite claims that the plan to cut one of Wrexham's fire engines was not on the agenda, voting through the plan as it was would have meant agreeing in principle to just that. I'm grateful to Cllr Paul Pemberton for pushing through the amendment that struck out the plan for spending cuts on frontline services and to everyone who voted the right way on the day. More than anything, I'm grateful to the people of Wrexham who backed our firefighters and marched, protested and signed petitions in their thousands to oppose this plan."A new fire authority will be appointed after the elections in May and this issue might come up again. But the new authority will know the strength of feeling and will have to look at other options."

• Pictured: Protesters outside the Guildhall in advance of the meeting, including members of the Fire Brigade Union and Plaid Cymru. Ten of Plaid Cymru's council election candidates were present at the protest as they have been all along the way. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Celebrating St David's Day in Wrexham





It was great to see local footballers Robbie Evans and Leo Smith join the 1,000-strong parade round town this afternoon on behalf of Wrexham AFC.
 Elin Fflur sang an impromptu Ar Lan y Môr and the Cambria Band led with their customary style and effectiveness.
 Plaid Cymru attended to support, as we have every year, and help a street stall to hand out information, balloons and stickers. We even got a Miss Teenage Wales to help us!

Monday, 27 February 2017

'Scrap plan to cut firefighters jobs in Wrexham' - Plaid AM

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has called on the North Wales Fire Authority to scrap plans to cut a whole-time fire engine and 24 firefighters’ jobs in Wrexham in the light of ongoing arson attacks and an increased workload.

Mr Gruffydd said the “epidemic” of deliberate fires in the area couples with news that the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service would face greater demands from April 1st due to flood prevention work meant that cutting services was “dangerous and irresponsible”.

Mr Gruffydd added:
“The Government has today announced £1.8m extra funding to ensure Welsh fire services are able to deal with increased demands on their time for flood prevention. That will mean more staff on call during emergencies and to prevent floods happening in the first place.
“Coupled with the alarming epidemic of arsons in the Wrexham area, it would be dangerous and irresponsible to cut one of the town’s two whole-time fire engines and 24 firefighters’ jobs. That amounts to one in six of the entire full-time firefighters in the North.
“If this is allowed to happen, would there be sufficient capacity within the service to deal with a combination of emergencies?
“Firefighters in Wrexham are already dealing with a quarter of all call-outs in the region yet do not have a quarter of the staff or resources. I have great concerns for the service across the North if these cuts are implemented, especially as response times to emergency call-outs are worsening. Now is not the time to cut this vital service.”
A final decision on the proposed cut is being made on March 20th by the North Wales Fire Authority and campaigners will be staging a last-minute lobby outside Wrexham’s Guildhall from 10am to try to reverse the decision.