Thursday, November 30, 2006

Police finance

I am looking forward to Richard Brunstrom's interview on Dragon's Eye tonight. The Daily Post features :

People would pay more council tax for extra cops
Nov 30 2006
by Daily Post

"MOST people in North Wales would accept a rise in council tax bills to fund more police officers on the beat, a poll claimed. The survey, commissioned by North Wales Police Authority, follows a £2m cut in this year’s budget in the face of potential tax capping by the Assembly government. Finance minister Sue Essex told AMs yesterday: "There are pressures out there. But I expect everyone, local councils or police authorities, to act reasonably when setting their council tax levels."

A market research company recruited 1,500 people, The Voice of North Wales, to represent the views of the public on police issues on behalf of the region’s Police Authority.
About 850 of the panel responded to the survey, whose main findings were:

61% would feel safer with more of a police presence in their communities;
75% would be happy to pay an increase of 39p a week (£20-a-year) in council tax to fund the shortfall in police funding
46% of the panel would pay an increase of 41p-a-week (£21-a-year) to maintain services and bridge the gap in fighting serious crime and terrorism"

but I am also interested in why North Wales has ended up in this alleged "mess" (Richard's own words). We know that North Wales Police have pitched for relatively high increases in recent years to deliver a higher level of community beat officers, is this undoing the general funding, as the public purse is tightening a little ? I would like to drill in to a few facts beyond the market reserach to help us all understand the issues given the jobs at risk.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Press are like vultures !

No, not a reference to today's story about the News of the World but this piece about the hills of Snowdonia. Anyone who is missing a vulture please own up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Yes, I know, not many blogs about football and the Baggies recently. I wonder why ?

Wigley rubbish

I read that Dafydd Wigley has thrown his support behind the campaign to keep Merseyside's rubbish out of Wales, more specifically Wrexham. Dafydd must hoping for a few 'list' votes off the back of the recent decision that has not closed the tip.

However this is dangerous territory - what is Dafydd going to tell Welsh farmers who send their waste aninmal material over the border for disposal, and where is Dafydd going to open the asbestos tip to deal with North Wales asbestos disposal that currently goes over the border ?

"Fortress" policies may sound good to some people if there are viable alternative solutions. If I am wrong let me know - but I haven't seen Plaid promoting any asbestos dump policies in North Wales recently.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Leighton ups Burberry profile

It is pleasing to see Leighton Andrews AM getting some decent media coverage for the Burberry workers.

Arfon's beauty

IC North Wales are running a video on the beauty of the Menai Strait - a boundary of the new constituency. Have a look.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Santa joins campaign trail

Well the weather held off and with a thick coat we held a quick street stall in Caernarfon and unveiled our secret campaign weapon - mini Santa under his Christmas tree !

Eaglestone and Pwllheli - the Bush factor !

Local newspapers sometimes throw up entertaining and unexpected links. Let me explain. For some time I have been a voiciferous supporter of an expansion to Pwllheli marina, as I consider it one of the town's few assets that can be used for a general economic uplift. I remain of that view even though Pwllheli now falls outside of the new Arfon constituency.

However my support for the expanded marina has now lead to the label as a "budding George Bush" in the letters Page of the Caernarfon Herald. It is a fanciful flight of imagination that links some boats bobbing around inPwllheli marina with the US President and my influence on politics in North West Wales. Amazing, and a reflection of the warped logic which afflicts economic opporunity in North West Wales.

Friday, November 24, 2006

CLERA - diolch

Noson braf iawn yn Y Galeri yn mwynhau deg mlynedd CLERA.

A pleasant night at the Galeri enjoying the 10th celebrations of CLERA the traditional music society. Congratulations on 10 years and an enjoyable night of music.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Short and sweet

For my recent birthday I received this years Colemanballs - always an entertaining read from the Private Eye team. In the political section is the quote of an MOD spokesman :

"We will not be putting aircraft in the`air that cannot fly".

That's a relief !

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Joined up future ?

The Assembly Government has laid out its plans for public service improvements in the coming years. This will carry many challanges both for the bodies responsible for providing those services, and their staff.

I suppose I should declare an interest as I work in a local council, but it is always the case in my experience, that changes of this sort need serious communication and top management to deliver. Perhaps Mr Brunstrom can spread his wings ??

Monday, November 20, 2006

Glynrhonwy - the next Bluestone ?

What now seems a long time ago Gwynedd Council invited ideas for the disused Glynrhonwy quarry near Llanberis. After a short listing process we were told two ideas were left standing for final assessment. One involves mountain cycling, while the other could help transform the tourism economy, generate jobs and boost North West Wales.

On the day Bluestone started I am left wondering whether Plaid Cymru will ever take a brave decision to deliver the investment everyone desires - but won't vote for !

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Burberry - think again

Anyone who likes their designer gear should read this link and think again. Leighton Andrews AM is also posting regualr updates on the campaign.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

and it tastes good !

The Western Mail picks up on the story about Anglesey's vineyard. I can confirm that the wine tastes good, and would make a cracking locally sourced Christmas present.

Anglesey climes better than Bordeaux for vinesNov 18 2006

"Rhodri Clark, Western Mail

A WINEMAKER in the northernmost part of Wales says his vines get more sunshine than those in Bordeaux, France's second-largest wine region.

Last year Tom Barlow produced 5,000 bottles at his winery in Cemaes Bay, on Anglesey's north coast, and he is expecting an even greater output over the next 12 months.

He says more of the island's farmers should diversify into viniculture because Anglesey has a good climate for grapes.

He also believes building a local reputation for vineyards and wine would attract a new wave of tourism to the picturesque island.

"The island is a superb location for wine producing," said Mr Barlow, 60, who will be at the Celtic Winter Fayre in Llandudno from Wednesday to Sunday next week".

Guardian has new strategy - "eat the Taliban"

I was momentarily confused in reading today's Guardian. There is seriouis coverage of Afghanistan but on reading page five, in isolation,it is headed by the extraordinary headline "eat the Taliban" - a strange new strategy.

Clealrly the sub editor failed to spot the consequence of leaving the "b" on page 4 !

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ruane in the frame !

It seems some blogs are seeking to claim crimes of the state against our North Wales friend and colleague Chris Ruane. Will the Queen sleep tonight ?

Glyn "has the time arrived" Davies ?

Glyn Davies AM explains a few of the choices that face opposition AMs, and quite fairly explains how a whipped vote can be taken in ignorance of the consequences.

However partly reflecting thoughts posted previously he raises the question of whether mature oposition now requires the acceptance of reponsibility, not just opportunistic voting to torpedoe Labour plans. We await the response of Alun Ffred Jones and Plaid Cymru.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lacking commitment ?

Peter Black makes some useful points in his blog (15.11.06) about a lack of commitment in the opposition groups. It reminds me of the recent words of the Presiding Officer who suggesed that the opposition groups can't become the government for 10 minute periods, and then disapear again.

Lacking necessary commitment ?

Peter Black makes some useful points about the lack of commitment amongst opposition groups (15.11.06). In ways it echoes the recent words of the Presiding Officer who suggested the opposition groups can't become the government for ten minute periods, and then disapear to opposition. Government is more serious than that and the people will expect serious action not grand standing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goats again

I see in the Daily Post that my favouritly named group - the North Wales Feral Goat Interagency Group - has been busy again.

Useful advice

Today's news carries the warnings of the Environment Agency about the risks of flooding in the coming months. Sensible advice for many to note and follow.

It also highlights the importance of such issues in the planning process and some difficult decisions that need to be faced politically in Wales today and in the future.

Planning can be uncomfortable

Glyn Davies AM uses his blog on the 13th November to post some thoughts about his role in planning decisions. This caught my eye as I earn my bread and butter in town and country planning.

It is often the case that people, especially those involved in politics, find decisions hard to stomach as the system exists in a statutory framework with decisions lead by policies and evidence - it can sometimes be uncomfortable. It is of course people like Glyn who will sometimes determine issues that started thir own journey on the route to a final decison in planning offices across Wales.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ready for launch !

A gap in blogging as the Arfon delegation tavelled to Cardiff for Labour's special policy conference. Some early morning sight seeing in Cardiff Bay and a day of solid debate in County Hall. Speeches from Peter Hain, Rhodri Morgan and policy responses from each of our Assembly Ministers. If people take the time to read these policy documents they will see the scale of the programme Labour seeks to deliver after May 2007.

I contributed to the debate on Welsh language (Heb gwaith-dim iaith) and about Plaid Cymru's apparent ignorance of the work of trade unions on the skills and learning agenda.

Home for match of the day - but we had to avoid a fallen tree lying across the road. The joys of the A470 !

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Carwyn offers new powers ideas

Carwyn Jones has spoken to the Western Mail (yes I'm only just getting there) about how the Assembly's new powers may be used. Good ideas in tune with our times.

Special conference

Some may be focussed on rugby but as the BBC report Labour activists are gathering on Saturday to approve the majority of our policy platform for May's elections.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blinkered vision ?

There is a web site which seeks to cover the town of Caernarfon. Let me acknowledge that we have previously exchanged views as they have clearly taken against my campaign for the Assembly. However I have always respected their right to free comment - part of the power of technology and democracy. Hence I offer a link. so people can judge for themselves.

I sometimes ask myself why town people need to contact the Town Council via a commercial web site, that remains a mystery to me, but a matter for the town council and their residents!

Two significant events in the town this year have attracted attention beyond our boundaries: the big wheel over the summer weeks, and the son et lumiere "Merlin's Magical Quest" Yet both have been largely ignored by the web site, and in the case of the recent son et lumiere, somewhat negative questions. Even if the web master was on holiday surely one of his busy reporters could have obtained some shots of this years wonderful show rather than the old images used on the web. I can only conclude it is their choice not to use new exciting images from a major event in the town. Why ?

As someone who did attend the show let me inform the web site, and others, that they missed a wonderful event, which cost a whole family the equivalent of a round of drinks, and showed the great potential of this product to Caernarfon. While agreeing that Caernarfon is relatively poor there is sufficient money for regular nights out, to support major shows (e.g the Faenol has much local support and costs more -as does a trip to Cineworld in Llandudno Junction) and the area can help support this show. The town's business community has much to gain.

Perhaps to their surprise I agree with the web site when it asks does Caernarfon, and the local business community want this chance? To prompt debate one could ask if, in spite of the regular moaning, whether the town, and our local councils, are comfortable in their own way, and do not wish to see much change ?

I think the son et lumiere show, and the creative ideas that go with it, could give a major boost to the local economy. Yes, further developmental work is required to provide accommodation packages etc but it deserves our support. Unless of course you have an alternative ? If we are not careful I fear the idea could go elsewhere.

Plaid can't quite get the message

At lunchtime I joined BBC Radio Cymru for "Taro Post" to discuss Labour's forthcoming pledge on the learning fund for trade unions. Plaid's spokesperson was my opponent in the Arfon constituency, Alun Ffred Jones. Ffred just could not come to recognise the role of trade unions in the skills and training agenda, and even seemed to question what role/competence the unions have in such work. An alarming level of ignorance and not good for Plaid.

In modernising our economy, and upgrading workplace skills, trade unions have a strong role to play.

How sad - NOT !

I see BBC news carries post election news from the US.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Blogger questions blogger

Richard Brunstrom used his blog to stir up some views on the government making a "mess" of Police funding :

"Then another budget meeting. We’re going to have to downsize, and I have to plan for it. The government has got police finance into a really dreadful mess and is seemingly in complete denial. We’re going to have to take the consequences - and so are you. Still, nil desperandum"

So I thought I would react calmly and use his blog to ask for a briefing paper on why he thinks this is ? There is a balnce between central and local funding and North Wales has I feel pressed the local element hard in recent years. Why has this made a mess ? The reform/abolition of Police Forces debate was a one off and does not in itself explain abudget crisis.

I await the Chief Constable's response so some considered judgement can be given to the issue.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


First Minister Rhodri Morgan is making a sreries of speeches this Assembly term and the contents set out some challenging thoughts and issues. "Futures" was the topic earlier this week and may prove an interesting Sunday read.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


A pleasant couple of hours in Y Fic, a cracking game of rugby and good atmospehere. Apparently there was some Championship football - but we are all rugby fans today !!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


It seems that the Leader of Plaid Cymru could not make the day on which his Party chose the Parliamentary debate. I am sure Madrid was nice and warm and more convivial than the Iraq debate. People are talking

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Top level coordination

Another blog reports problems in Plaid Cymru trying to organise support for the Iraq vote. Meanwhile other reporters are asking why Plaid Cymru leader Elfyn Llwyd was reporteley not present in London given the over riding importance of the debate.

Perhaps a local Plaid Cymru contact could enlighten me on what the attractions of Madrid (?) are that it takes precedence over the big vote ???

Its this "horseshit" that will drive regulation

Mr O'Leary of RyanAir loves to express himself colourfully - but this type of comment on a report generating such serious evidence does the free market capitalists very little favour.