Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Public meeting to debate plans for 82 houses in Summerhill

Plaid Cymru's Gwersyllt West Councillor Gwenfair Jones has organised a public meeting to discuss plans to build 82 houses in the area.

She said: "You may be aware that developers have put in a planning application to build 82 houses on Chestnut Heights, Summerhill (Off Top Road).
 "I believe that this is an inappropriate site for housing because of the poor road infrastructure, not just on Top Road but also along the whole length of Summerhill Road with existing traffic calming exacerbating traffic problems. 
 "This land is also unstable with a large railway tunnel running underneath the site. 
 "Despite there not being a Local Development Plan in place, developers must show that there is an exceptional need to build on what is a green barrier site separating two settlements, that of Gwersyllt and Summerhill. 
 "Recent building and planning consent will, when completed, result in around 80 new units on Boozey Fields and the old Summerhill Hall site and it would therefore be difficult to justify anymore on the basis of local need.

In order to discuss the matter further I have arranged a

 PUBLIC MEETING

AT GWERSYLLT RESOURCE CENTRE,

SECOND AVENUE, GWERSYLLT,

AT 6.30pm on THURSDAY 24th AUGUST 2017.

Everyone is welcome to this meeting and if you are unable to attend, feel free to check out the application on Wrexham Council website and respond quoting reference number P/2017/0651 on planning@wrexham.gov.uk or in writing to The Planning Departement, Wrexham CBC, The Guildhall, Wrexham, LL11 1AY.

The planning officer is Matthew Phillips who is contactable on 01978 298994

To respond please get in touch with Gwenfair.Jones@wrexham.gov.uk on 07855724605.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Caia Park Motorbike Hell

Most residents in Caia Park are now familiar with the daily irritation of multiple motorbikes whizzing recklessly around the community, with the accompanying noise echoing across the estate like a swarm of 10,000 angry bees.

Although the bikes have been an issue for a number of years, the problem has escalated to an epidemic this year, with up to 6 or more motorbikes at a time terrorising residents on an almost daily basis. Throughout the day and often until the early hours, teenagers hiding in their hoodies are regularly zipping across local footpaths, fields and roads.

The bikes of course are often completely illegal, many are stolen and often the riders have no tax or insurance and commit a list of driving offences on each trip. The police can have up to several hundred calls a week from frustrated residents but a no pursuit policy has effectively curbed meaningful attempts to tackle the problem to date. The policy was implemented understandably following the death of a teenager in a city across the border following a police pursuit, but the lack of options in the armoury to get to grips with this issue is driving local residents to distraction.

​As a local councillor and Caia Park resident, I have been getting several messages a day for some months now from local people desperate for a solution​, and I feel their pain. There is the irritation of children being woken up and people generally being disturbed by the noise but this is secondary to the physical danger posed by these reckless riders. Already, there have been at least two extremely serious incidents as a result of these bikes crashing into people and vehicles, one case involving a bike hitting a child. There have been countless other close calls reported to me and to the police, many involving near misses with young children. 

People are getting hurt and more people will be hurt unless this issue is tackled, as a local representative it's my job to make clear the danger posed to our community, the bottom line is that this situation simply cannot carry on. 

So what's been done up to now? Well this is ultimately a police issue, although there is some cross over in terms of the council where council properties are involved.  The council are cracking down on tenancies where there is evidence of anti social behaviour involving these bikes. The police are also doing what they can within the limitations they have but as we all know, the problem continues. Part of the challenge for both the police and the council is still a lack of information in terms of those responsible and identifying problem properties, therefore anyone with information is urged to send it in to the Police in the first instance but also to the Caia Park Estate Office if there are potential tenancy issues.

It's clear to me though that we need to develop a new approach as what's been done up to now simply isn't working, we need a community action plan in place to map out a way forward. Although there is no easy fix, it is ultimately only a combined and sustained effort from local organisations and the local community that can tackle this problem. In that spirit, all 5 local councillors in Caia Park will be requesting a meeting with the police in order to make clear residents concerns and to discuss the next steps and options available. In the meantime, I hope residents will continue to feed in as much information as they can to the Police and Estate Office, remember you can also pass on information anonymously if you prefer. 

This is our community, if we work together we can find a solution and end this motorbike hell.

North Wales Police  - 101
North Wales Police webchat  - Click here 
Caia Park Estate office - 01978 317 040

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Chief Executive and the Living Wage

Plaid Cymru councillors have issued a statement about the departure of Wrexham's chief executive to start a new job in Walsall:
"We wish Dr Paterson well in her new post in Walsall.
"The departure of Wrexham Council's chief executive is an opportunity to re-think our pay structures. Plaid Cymru wants Wrexham Council to work towards the real Living Wage, currently £8.45 an hour, for all workers. There are currently around 2400 staff being paid below that level, about 40% of all council workers. Many are part-time and are overwhelmingly women.
"As a start, Plaid Cymru's group of councillors is proposing that the two strategic directors currently below the chief executive become joint chief executives rather than replacing Dr Paterson when she leaves. This arrangement worked when the previous chief executive left and could be made permanent, saving £100,000 a year. This could be used as a first step to ensure all council workers are paid the real Living Wage."

It has benefits in terms of reducing absentee levels, retention of staff and the costs of recruitment.

Other councils such as Gwynedd, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Tâf and Caerffili are working towards this goal. Wrexham should do the same.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Government passing the buck over investment in The Racecourse

The need to invest in developing The Racecourse as a venue for international sport and live music events has been raised in the Assembly chamber.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said the Welsh Government was actively calling for and investing in major events arenas in Cardiff and Newport. He asked cabinet secretary Ken Skates why his government wasn’t as pro-active in promoting and investing in Wrexham's Racecourse stadium.

Ken Skates, in response, stated: 
“All of us would like to see The Racecourse receive investment to become a more active and vibrant hub in the community. My officials recently met with Wrexham Football Trust* – they discussed the vision for The Racecourse. The key significance will be the role local council plays in devising a master plan for the town to ensure that any development aligns with any other development in the area. “The Racecourse deserves to have the investment – that will only come as a result of a sound business case and a very clear vision.”
Mr Gruffydd commented: 
“I’m incredibly disappointed with this response. In recent weeks Mr Skates has been vocal in arguing for new investment in major events arenas for Newport and Cardiff. There the Government has seen fit to take a lead, which is completely in order. 
“But when it comes to advocating and arguing for a similar major event arena here in the North we see him pass the buck to the local council. 
 “It seems this Labour Government is failing to show the same commitment to economic development, sports facilities and entertainment hubs here in the North as it is in the South.”
Mr Gruffydd has also sought assurances that Wrexham will be the location for a new national football museum.

He questioned Ken Skates on plans for a major feasibility study into the matter: 
“I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to commission a feasibility study into a National Football museum for Wales, as agreed in the budget agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Government last year. It’s long overdue and I’m confident that such a museum will be able to reflect past and future successes in the Beautiful Game. With that in mind, can the minister explain how a commitment to look into a football museum located in the North has become a feasibility study into a sports museum somewhere in Wales? I’m not the only person to sense a change in direction and alarm bells are ringing.” 
Mr Skates confirmed that the study would consider a sports museum and also look at options in all parts of Wales, but also stated that the preferred option was to locate it in Wrexham or elsewhere in the North.

Mr Gruffydd said later: 
“Like many people who believe a new national football museum for Wales should be based in Wrexham, I’m concerned that the brief has been altered. Moving the goalposts like this will only raise doubts about the Labour Government’s commitment to this important strategic project. Wrexham is where the FA of Wales was established, the home of early internationals and it’s home to the third oldest club in the world. It's the spiritual home of Welsh football and a national museum would provide a substantial economic boost to the area. 
Wrexham Council already has an extensive collection of Welsh football memorabilia that's been on show recently at the town's museum and I'd like to see that collection on permanent display for fans to be able to see.  
England has a national football museum in Manchester, Scotland has one in Glasgow and it makes perfect sense to locate our national museum in Wrexham. As well as recognising the historic importance of the area in developing football in Wales, it would also re-balance the economic benefits towards the North."


* We assume Mr Skates means the Wrexham Supporters' Trust.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fire service chiefs want council's money - but fail to attend key meeting

Plaid Cymru campaigners at the forefront of last year's march to save our fire engine
A key Wrexham Council meeting to discuss proposed cuts to local fire services went ahead today WITHOUT the presence of anyone from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. 
This is despite the NWFRS expecting Wrexham Council, along with the five other councils in the North, to fund its service for the coming three years. It also wants the council to back cuts in service that will leave the borough with just one whole-time fire engine and lose 24 full-time firefighters' jobs.
 The all-member workshop had hoped to question senior officers from the Fire Service about the proposal to cut one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire appliances.
 There was a strong objection to the way the consultation was framed, with councillors expressing frustration that the same cuts were rejected clearly in last year's consultation and that this wasn't offering anything new. 
 Serious questions will now be posed for the NWFRS including:
• Why have they employed more senior officers while cutting frontline firefighters?
• Are the four senior fire officers - which cost £500,000 - needed when similar sized fire services make do on less?
• Has the NWFRS examined its vehicle purchasing policy?
• The failure to budget properly in the medium term has led to a shortfall that could have been avoided.
• Why was £600,000 moved from revenue accounts to the capital account, thus making the shortfall in the budget to run the service greater?
• Wrexham has 25% of all call-outs but not 25% of all appliances in the North. Can cuts be justified here?
• If these cuts go ahead, are there sufficient firefighters to operate specialist equipment such as the Aerial Ladder Platform based in Wrexham?

The point was also forcefully made that the new Ambulance and Fire centre in Wrexham has cost £15m, with £6m coming from the NWFRS. It has eight bays for fire appliances but, if the NWFRS has its way, could only have two fire engines to fill them!

NWFRS has done itself no favours today and there is growing resistance to any plan to cut the service in Wrexham.




Thursday, 13 July 2017

Community council rejects "skewed" consultation on fire engine cuts

Last night's meeting of Rhosddu Community Council agreed to support Councillor Marc Jones's motion rejecting the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority plan to cut one of Wrexham's two fire engines and shed 24 firefighter jobs.
 
The decision came after councillors discussed the Fire Authority's consultation document, which they rejected as "skewed" and intending to lead consultees in a specific direction.

Cllr Marc Jones, of Plaid Cymru, said: 
"There was a clear feeling that the consultation was designed with only one option on the table. Wrexham has a 1,000 call-outs a year - a quarter of all those in the North - and this would stretch our crews beyond the limit. 
"Rhosddu CC agreed that any shortfall in funding should be made up by cutting the Fire Authority's senior fire officers and ensuring increased contributions by the six county councils. 
"We all value our firefighters, who risk life and limb to save other people."

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

North Wales has lost 132 police officers since 2010

Plaid Cymru attacks Tory cuts to policing

Devolution of policing would deliver £25 million boost to Welsh police forces

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, has criticised the UK Government for imposing sustained cuts to the police forces since 2010.

There are 750 fewer police officers in Wales now than there were in 2010, equivalent to a 10% drop since the Tories took office. North Wales Police has 132 fewer officers – an 8% fall in numbers in just seven years.

Now Plaid Cymru is calling for the devolution of policing to ensure more police officers on the beat.

Figures provided by Dyfed Powys Police show that if policing in Wales was funded on the basis of population, they would be better off by £25 million per year. Devolving policing to Wales, bringing Wales into line with Scotland and northern Ireland, would ensure that policing would be funded through the Barnett Formula, which is based on population, rather than the UK Government’s police funding formula.

The UK Government also intends on reforming its police funding formula which, if implemented, would deliver a further £32 million cut to the Welsh police forces.

Devolving policing could therefore protect the Welsh police forces from Westminster’s £32 million cut and instead deliver a £25 million boost to their finances.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:

“The fall in police numbers is being felt acutely in certain communities here in the North, where anti-social behaviour is on the rise and there’s a feeling that police can’t cope. Losing one in every 12 police officers in the last seven years would stretch any organization and it’s clear that frontline policing has suffered as a result of Tory cuts and UK central government policies.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Plaid Cymru’s leader in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts asked the Prime Minister:

“Police officer numbers in Wales have dropped by 10 per cent since her party came to power.

“If policing were devolved – as it is in northern Ireland and Scotland – Welsh forces would have extra funding worth £25 million at their disposal. This would more than replace those lost officers.

“What justification is there for refusing to devolve policing?”

The Prime Minister responded:

“We’ve been round this discussion before but can I just address the central issue of what the honourable lady is talking about which is about police budgets and is about the number of police officers.

“We are currently protecting police budgets, we’ve been doing that since 2015.

“That, I believe is acknowledged across the House and we’ve not just protected those police budgets – we are ensuring that the Police have the capabilities they need to deal with new types of crime - creating the National Cybercrime unit, creating the National Crime Agency – these are all important steps to ensure the Police can do their job of cutting crime and crime is at a record low.”

Elms expansion gets approval - local concerns ignored



Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board submitted a new plan to expand The Elms on the Rhosddu Road roundabout back in February. The centre provides drug and alcohol services. That extension was refused by Wrexham Council's planning committee.

On Monday, the health board came back with an amended plan - which didn't involve an extension at the back but a reconfiguration of offices inside and new windows on the upper floors. This new scheme has been approved.

Local Grosvenor councillor Marc Jones said:
"I spoke out at a planning committee as a local resident back in February against plans to extend The Elms. That extension was rejected but, as a result, I was advised that I couldn't take part in the debate on this latest application, which is deeply frustrating as a new councillor.

"My views are unchanged. The health board is willing to spend £2 million on expanding services in The Elms but is unwilling to engage with local people and elected representatives.

"I want them to understand that concentrating so many services in a small residential area is having a huge impact on the well-being of the wider population but also on jobs and small businesses in the immediate area.

"It's irresponsible to refuse to face up to the situation that's developed in recent years and simply maintaining the problem rather than looking for a solution is not what the NHS should be about. It's a very complex picture and the people needing help and treatment all have different needs, but that's precisely why the health board should be engaging with local people rather than trying to get its way by tinkering with planning guidelines.

"The speed with which they've managed to put in an appeal and submit a completely new planning application is in marked contrast to their speed in dealing with the problems Rhosddu residents face day to day.

"Wrexham's planning committee was right to reject the first planning application and found it had no narrow planning grounds to reject this new amended plan. The wider issue of increased anti-social behaviour and a failure to deal with the problem has not been addressed by the health board."

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

'Bring football home to Wrexham'

Ex-miner turned "Welsh wizard" Billy Meredith

Any new national football museum for Wales should be based in Wrexham, according to campaigners who believe the north-east is the sport's "spiritual home".

The call comes as the Welsh Government announces plans for a feasibility study in to the scheme.

The study was part of a comprehensive deal struck last year with Plaid Cymru, which has long campaigned for a national football museum to be based in Wrexham.

Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper was among those who started the campaign for the museum in Wrexham two years ago. She said: 
"It's taken far too long to get to this stage but at least now we're going to see some progress. My concern with the tender is that the Welsh Government has not specified that we need it here in the north east - the only part of Wales that does not have a national museum.

"Wrexham is where the FA of Wales was established, the home of early internationals and the third oldest club in the world. It's the spiritual home of Welsh football and a national museum would provide a huge boost to the area."
Councillor Marc Jones, whose Grosvenor ward includes the Racecourse ground, added: 
"Wrexham Council already has an extensive collection of Welsh football memorabilia that's been on show recently at the town's museum and I'd like to see that collection on permanent display for fans to be able to see. 
"England has a national football museum in Manchester, Scotland has one in Glasgow and it makes perfect sense to locate our national museum in Wrexham. As well as recognising the historic importance of the area in developing football in Wales, it would also re-balance the economic benefits towards the North."
Funding for the football museum in Manchester was provided through the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as the local council and it attracted a million visitors in its first three years.

Cllr Jones added: 
"When you visit the museum in Manchester you can't help being struck by the amount of coverage footballing pioneers such as Billy Meredith, originally from Chirk, are given. 
"Not only did he play for Wales, Manchester United and Manchester City, he was also instrumental in forming the first Players' Union and only retired from playing at the grand old age of 47. 
Something of the Ian Rush about our Billy?
"We need a national museum to showcase the achievements of people like Billy Meredith as well as those of Gareth Bale as they continue to make history."

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Spend £500,000 NOW on safer, cleaner streets


'We need to restore confidence in our town'


Plaid Cymru councillors have called on Wrexham Council to invest a £583,000 underspend from last year on making Wrexham's streets safer and cleaner.

Plaid Cymru group leader Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward that covers part of the town centre, said: 


"Plaid Cymru's group are all new councillors elected in May. We understand the financial pressures facing the council but we also understand the greater pressures facing our town centre businesses due to anti-social behaviour and the drugs problem.

"Shoppers are now keeping away from parts of the town due to ongoing problems that have been widely publicised.

"We need to restore confidence in our town centre and I know there's a lot of good work being done behind the scenes. Hopefully that will come good in the coming weeks and months.

"However, making our streets safer is something that needs to happen now.
"Traders are at their wits' end, businesses are losing money due to this and we need to restore the balance. We know the police have faced drastic cuts in recent years and that is something we need to reverse but in the here and now what we as councillors can do it make the case for council funding to be spent where it's most needed
 
"The £583,000 underspend on council services should therefore be invested in an immediate physical presence in the town centre areas most affected by anti-social behaviour. That's the Lord Street, Queen Square and King Street area of town. 
"The council already has security at the bus station and one lone worker in the rest of the town. For his safety and for greater reassurance, we want to expand that security so that people can see a visible presence but also deter anti-social behaviour. 
"Plaid Cymru's group of councillors also wants to see a pilot to attract more shoppers to town by varying parking charges. Unless we try something different by lowering parking costs and making it free at certain times to ensure our car parks are full rather than half empty, the town will continue to struggle. Town centre traders need every bit of help they can get at the moment and this is another part of that jigsaw.

"We also need to see a greater focus on cleaning up our streets. Weeds growing out of pavements and litter left uncollected adds to the sense of neglect. We want to work with the council to restore pride in our streets but that means investing in services.

"Let's use that £583,000 to kickstart a real change that brings confidence and pride back to Wrexham."

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Planning Inspectorate allows 365 new homes in Llay

The Planning Inspectorate has today announced it will allow plans for 365 new homes to go ahead on the Gresford Road in Llay.
 The decision, which goes against Wrexham Council's planning committee decision to refuse the application in October 2015, was made after Labour Government ministers called in the matter.
 Llay is a large village that has seen rapid growth in housing over the past decade or so. Services have not kept pace and this new permitted development will mean even greater pressure being put on our GP practices, roads, education and social services.
 Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones said:
"The decision by the Planning Inspectorate undermines the democratic decision of the planning committee locally. The plan for the 365 sits outside the agreed settlement limit. The Planning Inspectorate chose to ignore this on the basis that there is insufficient land supply in the council's old development plan. 
 "This ignores the fact that the Welsh Government rejected a perfectly sound Local Development Plan  (LDP) back in 2012 that would have ensured sufficient land for housing development. Instead ministers chose to insist on a new plan that would have increased housing in Wrexham by at least 5,000 homes in the coming decade. 
 "The Government has since revised that figure down to something very similar to the original LDP. So we're back at square one at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local council. But far worse than this is the fact that local communities such as Llay have been left defenceless against speculative developers who have seen an opportunity to take advantage of the lack of a development plan, which protects green spaces such as this. 
 "The people affected by this decision in Llay have every right to be furious with the Welsh Government for allowing this to happen in the first place."

"The people affected by this decision in Llay have every right to be furious with the Welsh Government for allowing this to happen"

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wrexham council re-affirms opposition to cutting fire engine

Wrexham Council has re-affirmed its "vehement" opposition to proposals by North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to cut one of the town's two whole-time fire engines and 24 firefighters' jobs.

Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones asked two questions of the new council executive board in advance of the fire authority reconvening to discuss this proposal.
1. Can the council exec board re-affirm its opposition to proposals to axe 24 full-time firefighters' jobs and one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines, noting that the consultation incorrectly describes the town as having three when one is currently off the road due to insufficient part-time staffing?

2. What steps is the council taking to work with the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to ensure it has sufficient funding to continue the level of service in the Wrexham area - will it insist that the NWFRA re-examines its own senior staffing arrangements and spending commitments prior to any cuts to frontline services?
The response from Cllr Hugh Jones on behalf of the executive board re-affirmed the council's opposition to the planned cut and also confirmed that the council would be holding a workshop on the matter for all councillors next month.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Marc Jones said he was glad the council had expressed its opposition so clearly and unequivocally: 
"It's clear that this would be a dangerous and retrograde step, especially in light of the Grenfell disaster in London and the need to ensure we have an emergency service that has the capacity to cope with the worst possible scenarios. 
"As the Fire Authority is financed by the six local councils across the region, I felt it was important that our council challenges the Fire Authority to explain why it is cutting this vital frontline service when it is top-heavy in terms of senior officers and has transferred funds from its revenue account to its capital account in the last budget. This is money that could be spent on retaining the current level of service.  
"However, I would also point out that years of Tory cuts and austerity have created a situation where our emergency services are struggling to deliver what is needed. Any opposition to this immediate threat to our fire service has to be seen in that context and we need to broaden the campaign to challenge the ideology that's destroying important public services."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Challenge to fire engine cuts plan

Plans by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to consult again on cutting one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines are being challenged by Plaid Cymru.

The original bid to cut the fire engine was shelved in March 2017 because of public opposition. Thousands signed petitions, protested and marched through the town to oppose the cut.

Now the new fire authority is coming back to consult again on the matter, which would lead to the loss of 24 full-time firefighters' jobs.

Councillor Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru's leader on Wrexham Council, led the protests last year against the cuts. He said:
"The fire authority is looking to cut services despite huge public opposition. Wrexham's public, together with the Fire Brigades Union and the help of councillors, fought them off once. If we have to do it again, we will.
"Wrexham's firefighters are very much part of the community, we value their service and we won't lose that service without a hell of a fight.
"I want us to fight this proposal locally and in Westminster. It's clear the Tories don't have a mandate for ongoing cuts to public services here in Wales. Our emergency services, whether it's fire, police or ambulance crews, don't come cheap. These are well-trained, experienced experts doing a great job under very difficult circumstances."
Cllr Jones is to ask the council's new executive board at its meeting next Tuesday to continue to back opposition to the proposed cut. He added:

"The council made it very clear last year that it was opposed to the cut and it would be good to re-affirm its opposition to proposals to axe 24 full-time jobs and one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines in light of this new consultation.
"Given that the six councils also provide the funding for the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, we as elected members need to ensure it has sufficient funding to continue the level of service in the Wrexham area. I'd like our council to insist that the NWFRA re-examines its own senior staffing arrangements and spending commitments prior to any cuts to frontline services."

Monday, 12 June 2017

Anger over HMO plan for busy Wrexham street

A planning application to allow a terrace house to be converted into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) has been deferred by councillors angry at the problems caused by Wrexham's booming private rental industry.

The house at 10 Talbot Rd had already been turned into a two twin-room home and the owner has since sub-divided once more to fit in a total of seven people. The retrospective planning application was to approve this further sub-division.

Plaid Cymru's representative on the planning committee, Councillor Marc Jones, said Talbot Road was part of Wrexham's busy inner ring road, where parking is so bad that cars straddle both pavements. There are regular jams on the road due to this problem. More people in this area will inevitably mean more cars and more problems for residents.

He added:
"One objector to the application had stated that the street of 45 homes only had 10 families living there. Despite this, the council's own statistics suggested only four HMOs within 50 metres of the house."
Councillors heard that the size of the rooms in the house did not meet licensing guidelines. There were also concerns about the tenant's amenity space.

One main obstacle to the feeling among councillors to reject the planning application was the knowledge that the Planning Inspectorate had already overturned a similar objection on the grounds that there were too many HMOs in the area.

That view was challenged by Cllr Jones. He said: 
"The retrospective planning application puts the council in a difficult position. Despite the Planning Inspector siding with the landlord in the past, this council should not roll over, otherwise I'd question the point of having this committee at all.
"There's no thought been given here for either the tenants who have to live in this house or the neighbourhood as a whole."
Cllr Jones moved a motion to defer the application on the basis that more work was needed to assess the density of HMOs in the area, which could form the basis of a legitimate grounds for refusal.

He was supported 9-5 by the planning committee. The application will come back to the planning committee next month.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Regenerating Wrexham - trying something new isn't an option, it's essential

Plaid Cymru's manifesto for Wrexham included a call to pilot free parking in the town to improve footfall.
 This pilot would enable the council to assess its effectiveness and finesse any issues with the system being abused by those who normally pay for parking in the town anyway. It could start at 9.30am, for example, and end earlier than the average working day. Or it could be in distinct blocks to enable shoppers to have enough time in the town.
 It's clear from this that free parking, which is in effect for special events, street festivals and Christmas, DOES improve footfall and the economic viability of town centre shops and businesses.
 The current council's reluctance to offer free parking is largely based on a concern that it would lose £587,000 a year in income. That's understandable when further budget cuts are being faced but it misses the point spectacularly... the council's over-arching aim should be to create a vibrant and prosperous town centre that boost the economy. Just looking at things from the silo of car parking and income generated from council car parks is too narrow a worldview.
 It also contradicts the council's stated aim of creating a masterplan for the town centre.
 What's needed now is a cross-cutting approach that looks at every opportunity to maximise footfall and boost trade. That also means tackling anti-social behaviour and the drug problem blighting some areas of the town.
 Small but significant steps are being taken but giant strides are needed to transform Wrexham town. Trying something new isn't an option - it's essential.

Read more of Plaid Cymru's local manifesto at PlaidWrecsam.Cymru 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Election reflections

A presidential election focussed on UK issues was never going to be easy for Plaid Cymru. We were squeezed as many of our supporters lent their vote to Labour to "keep the Tories out".
 Despite that, in Wrexham - a constituency bombarded by Tories and Labour as a key marginal - our vote held up well and Carrie Harper stood out as a candidate in the few hustings that were held.
 It was heartening to see the increased turnout - especially among young people who it's clear were inspired to vote by a manifesto of radical change. That was Corbyn's manifesto, not Welsh Labour's.
 Of course, Welsh Labour will claim the credit for those successes but this was very much a British election where concerns over what the Tories would do to the NHS were prevalent.
 And, for all the talk of Labour success in north Wales, it should be remembered that they only succeeded in keeping their seats and regaining one of the most marginal Tory victories in 2015. Ian Lucas's majority remains a slender 1800. The Tories, with their new-found extreme right Unionist chums in the DUP, continue to rule. This was not a victory for Labour, it was making up some of the lost ground against a Government run by some of the least talented people to have graced public office.
 The youth vote was inspired into action largely via social media. It seems this may be the election where social media did play a role, despite many pundits claiming that for the past few years.
 The next Assembly elections, where the spotlight turns on Welsh Labour's performance in charge of health, education, transport and other key policy areas, will be fascinating. Labour's failure to seize opportunities to defend Wales against Tory attacks - e.g. in legislating against zero-hour contracts or devolving policing and greater tax-varying powers - will be in focus.
 Two visits by Theresa May to Wrexham didn't do the local candidate much good. It'll be interesting to see where he goes next.

 What of the other parties? It was good to see the back of the Kippers, who combine terrible politics with laughable incompetence. The Lib Dems have finally disappeared as an elected body in Wales - despite their proud history and some decent individuals, they have proved themselves to be as nasty and underhanded as ever. Neither party will be missed.
  What's clear is that politics in Wrexham as in Wales is in complete flux. People are abandoning previous tribal loyalties and that can only be a good thing.
 Plaid Cymru has had a difficult election, despite the wonderful win in Ceredigion to the hugely able Ben Lake. We have to consider how we work for Wales against huge odds in terms of the UK party machines with their millionaire backers and a media (including a BBC that seems allergic to mentioning Plaid Cymru) that regularly airbrushes Wales out of any debate.
 A night without sleep doesn't lend itself to any profound revelations but the weeks and months to come will see Plaid activists continue to build and campaign in our communities, as we look to transform our nation.
 Finally, a word of thanks to the Plaid Wrecsam team - many are new to politics and have thrown themselves into campaigning on the streets in recent months. We had a tenth of the spending power of Labour and the Tories but 100% of the commitment. We'll continue to build Team Plaid Wrecsam as the best way to achieve the change Wrexham needs.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

New bid to scrap Wrexham's fire engine

Plans by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to consult again on cutting one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines have been condemned by Plaid Cymru.

The original bid to cut the fire engine was shelved in March 2017 because of public opposition. Thousands signed petitions, protested and marched through the town to oppose the cut.

Now the new fire authority is coming back to consult again on the matter, which would lead to the loss of 24 full-time firefighters' jobs.

Councillor Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate for Wrexham in the General Election, said:
"The Fire Authority is claiming that Wrexham has got three fire engines. In fact it's got three pumps but only two are on the road and crewed because the other is crewed by retained staff and they can't get enough retained firefighters. So it's off the road and Wrexham only has two operational pumps.
"Getting rid of one of those will HALVE the capability to respond to road accidents, industrial accidents, incidents at the new prison and ongoing arsons. Wrexham's crews also cover as far afield as Cerrigydrudion, Ruthin and Bala. Our loss would also be their loss because the retained crews there rely on Wrexham's full-timers.
"When we talk about austerity and Tory cuts, this is the sharp end of those cuts. There have been years of underfunding that have led to this drastic decision. The money being taken out of public services is hitting frontline services and our normally talkative Tory candidate locally is silent on the matter.
"Well I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues don't intend to be silent on this matter. We will fight for a properly funded fire service and do all we can - both locally and in London - to defend our public services and keep jobs in our town.
"This is why we have to defeat the Tories in this election - another five years will see many more public services disappear and disintegrate as they starve them of funding. Our emergency services, whether it's fire, police or ambulance crews, don't come cheap. These are well-trained, experienced experts doing a hell of a job under very difficult circumstances.
  
"I pledge that if I'm elected as Wrexham's next MP I will be their champion in London and stand up for our public services."
Plaid Cymru's councillor Marc Jones, who led the protests last year against the cuts, said:
"Here we go again - the fire authority is looking to cut services despite huge public opposition. Wrexham's public, together with the Fire Brigades Union and the help of councillors, fought them off once. If we have to do it again, we will. Wrexham's firefighters are very much part of the community, we value their service and we won't lose that service without an almighty fight.
"This should be at the forefront of people's minds when they vote next Thursday - do you want investment in our town and our public services or do you want another five years of ever-more damaging cuts? It's a very stark choice."


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Support Plaid Cymru's Wrexham campaign



Plaid Cymru in Wrexham doesn't have millionaire backers or trade union barons to bankroll it. We will have less than a tenth of the finances the Tories and Labour will throw at this campaign locally.

We rely entirely on our members and supporters to pay for our leaflets, posters, garden posts and other campaign materials. That's why we're asking if you can donate some cash to our Crowdfunder appeal to raise £500.

 If you want to show your support for Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate in Wrexham, please go to Crowdfunder and donate to the cause.

 Every penny will go to ensure that give Wales and Wrexham a say in this election. The big London parties think they can buy democracy with their big money backers. Prove them wrong by putting your money behind a party and a cause that will always speak out for Wales and Wrexham.

Friday, 26 May 2017

3,000 Wrexham women affected by pension age changes

“Pressure works – let’s keep it up”
Carrie Harper vows to continue to fight for fairness for WASPI campaigners

Plaid Cymru's Wrexham candidate Carrie Harper has backed the 3,000 Wrexham women fighting Tory changes to pension ages.

Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood has vowed to continue to fight for fairness for the women affected by the changes to state pension age.

Speaking at a WASPI (Women Against State Pension Injustice) campaign event in Cardiff Bay, Leanne Wood said that the UK Government must put fairer transitional arrangements in place so that women can have the retirement that they planned for.
Addressing the rally, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“It is an outrage that in the 21st Century, women are still having to demonstrate for a fair pension. In Wales 139,000 women are affected by the way in which the pension age has been equalised. It is arbitrary that women born in the 1950s have had their planned retirement taken away just because they were born in that particular decade. One year difference in birthday can cost someone three years without a pension.“That is why the WASPI demand for fair transitional arrangements has to be put in place by the UK government. Without this transitional help, many women will face financial hardship.”
Leanne Wood urged WASPI campaigners to use this election as an opportunity to put their cause firmly on the political agenda:
“Pressure works – just look at the Prime Minister’s U-turn on pensions. During elections, you have a chance of politicians championing your cause who may have otherwise been quiet. 
“Use this election to get pledges from your candidates to support the WASPI campaign. Make sure pensions and pensioners needs are on the political agenda. And make sure those who are elected as MPs are held to account for the promises they are making to you now.
“I will pledge to you that Plaid Cymru MPs will continue to work with colleagues like Mhairi Black from the SNP who has championed the issue of pensions justice. Plaid Cymru MPs will defend pensioners. 
“We will defend those women born in the 1950s. And we will not let up on the pressure we put on the Tories so that they U-turn on WASPI like they have on so much to date.”

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Sticking to our manifesto pledges

Plaid Cymru's Wrexham councillors are sticking to their manifesto pledges and have refused to take the pay increase for councillors.

The group of three have also had discussions with the council's IT department about using iPads to access council papers and restricted documents. The council was insistent that these papers would not be accessible without the council's own iPads rather than any other device.

After amicable discussion, the group has decided that it will make a voluntary financial contribution to the council to effectively pay for (but not own) the iPads for the extent of the five-year term. Our pledge was to refuse the free iPads and - if every councillor followed our lead - thousands of pounds could be saved by the council each year.

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?