Friday, February 29, 2008

University Trust status in North West Wales

Health Minister Edwina Hart AM is negotiating her way through the reconfiguration of health services in North Wales. The increasing specialism within medicine and clinical governance meeting the hard rock of local democratic views. I suspect that in most cases the medical case must hold the upper hand. Certainly in the end I would want my family to have the best medical service, not just the most local service.
There is at least one bright opportunity I can see for North Wales in the changes. In recent discussion with Edwina Hart I have pressed the case for the facilities in Bangor to be given University Trust status. There are many important decisions to be made about health services across North Wales in the coming months but I know that one vital piece of good news could be the move to strengthen the medical training arrangements in Bangor. This would build upon the expertise in Bangor University and bring the Trust, academics and health workers together for the benefit of our local community. University Trust status would also raise the profile of the facilities available in North West wales and boost the general image of the area. It is a win-win scenario for the Welsh health service, medical care and our local community.
Edwina Hart has is putting together new health plans for North Wales and amongst the many changes I hope we will see the support necessary to bring this idea forward.It is an idea that was welcomed in the merger of Bro Morganwg and Swansea Health Trusts and we must identify such positive opportunities for us in the North.

Things to do for "St David's Day"

Various bits and pieces of reports and paperwork, planning a leaflet for next week, a couple of press releases, but by mid afternoon, with only me in the house it is time for the Foo Fighters dvd - loud. Now that is the sort of thing you can't do if in meetings at work etc.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celebrating St David's Day

I arrive home from work with the thought that tomorrow will be a day off to celebrate St David's Day. Being an employee of Anglesey Council then people have to stop fighting for a day and have time for the national day.

Of course this year we have it on Friday as the idea is to give most workers (not schools and care workers etc) time to celebrate.

I will think of you all as I have a lie in...........................

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gloves off as Plaid attack "experts in nothing"

(A couple of dubious comment sources on postings so I have deleted and reposted. Not you Ian)

So the new unofficial Plaid Cymru web site, also known as Cangen Bontnewydd shows signs of the gloves coming off as May approaches.

Of course a few months ago several/many members of Llais Gwynedd were in Plaid Cymru, chairing meetings and holding elected office. By some miracle of nature a few weeks later we are told :

"People must remember that Llais y Bobl are experts in nothing, with no ideas beyond a bizzare and confused statements on a single issue, who lack much experience beyond proving their inability to make consistent decisions".

Sounds like Plaid had more problems than we realised becuase I doubt if the people concerned have suddenly lost what they did not have in PC before. So how many other "experts in nothing" and people "who lack much experience" are lurking in Plaid ?I think we should be told as it seems they are not required any more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bit behind !

Oops, yes its a bit late in the day before I roam around blog land and I see Peter Black covered this story as well. Never mind.

Damn those newts !

Being involved with planning the following article in the Western Mail caught my eye. The explanation about the alleged migration habits of the newts in Colwyn bay made me smile. Also as they were "parachuted" in to Colwyn Bay I must ask whether Richard Brunstrom was involved ?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Football's a stupid game anyway !

Following results like this I am going to start following rugby !

So let us hope the "wobble" ends with February and we can focus on a good run in. I blame global warming and climate change as we normally don't play in February sunshine.

There are still 36 points to play for (I think) so plenty of time for goals galore.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Duffy - do people share the joy ?

So I am enjoying Duffy on the Jools Holland show, and it seems she has stepped in for Alicia Keys. No problem with that for the talent of the woman down the road in Nefyn.

But I am just wondering how warm a welcome she got back home? Is this a talent that left and had to come back via somewhere else ?

I don't fully know but she has thankfully proclaimed her North West Wales education, so let's see where it takes us. She is off to a musical stratosphere that few mortals can understand. Keep well Nefyn woman.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Can we draw on our many talents ?

Hat tip to south paw grammar who sparked a thought process that needs an outlet. I have already reflected on Welsh Labour's determined and reflective mood at conference. Of course we could hit choppy waters as we think about Rhodri's successor but there is also an opportunity.

On many occassions I have reflected on Welsh Labour more truly reflecting the spectrum of Welsh opinion on the devolutionary process than other parties. The Party of Wales clearly have a more cohesive view than others (or at least they did till they joined government) as it reflects their obsession with seperation.

Welsh Labour's challenge between now and 2011 is to bring our own talents in to a cohesive unit, reflecting our proud of Wales and UK relationship, and using the spectrum of talents.They are talents which refelct the people of Wales, and that is a strength not a weakness.

Plaid official admits to election troubles

Over at Maes-e, the Welsh language debating forum, a local Plaid official has admitted to the major problems facing Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd. Blog menai (we know who you are)
states :

"Mae gan y Blaid drafferthion sylweddol yng Ngwynedd - a bydd hyn yn ol pob tebyg yn cael ei adlewyrchu yn yr etholiadau ym Mis Mai - er ei bod yn bosibl y bydd yn ennill tir yn rhai o'r rhannau trefol".

Which roughly translates as

"Plaid have major difficulties in Gwynedd- and this will probably be reflected in the elections in May - although it is possible we may gain ground in some of the urban areas"

(to be fair the post also takes some comfort in Labour not mounting a challenge - which I must accept is probably true in many parts of Gwynedd).

However when local officials start taliking of the problems we can see why Llais Gwynedd appear bullish.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Y Byd - "usual accusations of treachery"!!!!

The detail of blogs can be telling. Adam Price claims that reactions to the decision on funding for Welsh language media has caused the "usual accusations of treachery" - sorry say that agian Adam.

The "usual accussations" - by whom of whom ?

As far as I can see the venom is pointed at Plaid Cymru's role in our One Wales partnership and Rhodri Glyn will need to take a deep breath at the forthcoming conference.

Welcome to government.

Engaging communities

As a professional planner (MRTPI) I offer some voluntary time to Planning Aid Wales (PAW) and tonight that took me to Bala for a training event for town and community councils on the new system of Local Development Plans. (LDPs)
Some would say a bit strange given that I spend much of my current day job on LDPs. However I find the process of engaging with town and community councillors on the social, economic and environmental issues that affect land uses in our communities fascinating and informative. They came from far and wide as this was an event through the medium of Welsh and I recommend the PAW events to any town/community councillor.
Planning can often involve difficult judgement of evidence and the more informed stakeholders taking part the better.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Plaid Cymru and the trade unions

Just before Labour's conference the Party of Wales opened this year's conference "stunts" with some "pathetic" (my words on Radio Wales) stunt about Labour and the unions. Now some reflection. I don't object to conference stunts - got the tee shirt - but they need thought as to outcome.
I assume Plaid Cymru want to warm up the unions and seek a political/financial relationship. It is understandable and a legitimate tactic. It requires an approach that sounds like "we can be your friends too", invitations to quiet conversations, and the socialist wing to chip away and see off the other wing of PC. Perhaps defined by Bethan's spat with Alwyn.
I can tell them it definitely does not need a stupid ("pathetic") web site that gets people upset, closes ears and cuts across any possible dialogue.
Whoever chose this tactic - 1 out of 10, although why I should tell you so is beyond me.

It's behind you - sod's law !

So I will be planning some dramatic statement, my conversion to the Tories or Party of Wales, but no one will ever know as that US Satellite drops down on my head !

Sod's law also called Murphy's law.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Plaid Cymru face interesting conference

I thought Welsh Labour met in better heart than many may have anticipated. I also detected a business like purpose in identifying weaknesses, open debate and an aim of moving the Party forward.
I wonder how we should view the prospects of our One Wales partners as they prepare for their conference in March? Like Labour they will no doubt focus on the approaching elections, and no doubt name the list of councils they aim to win. I anticpate lots of references to Scotland and detailing of issues for the Constitutional Commission. The platform will proclaim the historic step of being in Government and defend/promote decisions of the One Wales government.
Yet I somehow feel there will be a different edge to the fringe. Y Byd, Llais Gwynedd, no rapid action on a Language Act and words of doubt on the timing of the referendum on a constitution will all give grassroots activists plenty to mull over, moan about and make trouble.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Northern Rock and seperatism

I bought the Financial Times (a copy not the whole paper group) for more details on the Northern Rock announcement than I suspected the Daily Post might provide. (Tom Bodden can relax as I also paid up for a Daily Post and his conference coverage). Having read all the issues and debates I conclude the Government was clearly between a rock and a hard place. Damned if you do and damned if you don't - a politicians nightmare.
With shareholders ready for legal action I am sure there was lots of legal advice about 'due process' and having to consider all options before anouncing the 'N' word.
So Newnight tells me Tuesday's papers are running hard on the associated costs of advice.
I take a tangental debating point. How would such a situation unfold in a seperate state of the sort Plaid Cymru often describe?. With the membership of the UN and all that I assume comes financial independence etc?. I am not sure what happens to the customers of these banks and how are the financial products regulated after seperation ? Would a seperated Wales have to chip in that proportion of its citizens costs who hold the equivalent of Northern Rock mortgages ?
Useless specualtion in the real world that Darling must sort out but the sort of big issue that I feel puts 'seperation' in a global context.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waiting for Leighton

Lovely to see the highest scoring team in the land return to form.

I now await the inevitable draw against Leighton Andrews AM and Cardiff for the quarter finals !

We both wore big grins around the conference fringe last night.

Tecwyn Thomas

I thought my first post on Welsh Labour's conference should pass on thanks to Tecwyn Thomas who has just ended his year as the chair of Welsh Labour. Tecwyn is a member in Arfon CLP. He is not a man of the fiery speech nor poetic words, but he is what every political party needs a solid, safe pair of hands who grafts away, often with little thanks, for the Party. He has also been a great servant of the Labour movement with many years service with his union (CWU) before his retirement.
There are very few chairs who in their year have seen events like those Tecwyn has overseen during 2007-2008. He had to step in and chair conference last year so he introduced Tony Blair for his final conference speech in Wales. Although not known by us at the time Peter Hain's last address (for now) as SOS for Wales in 2007. This year he got to introduce Prime Minister Gordon Brown's first address to a Welsh labour conference and the return of Paul Murphy as SOS. He also chaired the special conference in Cardiff when the Party ratified the One Wales Agreement.
In addition he has introduced Rhodri Morgan's 8th and 9th speeches as Welsh Party Leader.
A lot to reflect on.
Anyway I told Tec and Chris Roberts (our genial General Secretary) to give me a pose.
Diolch i ti Tecwyn - rwan mae yna gwaith i gwneud yn Arfon.
I have little doubt h will be grafting away in Arfon during the coming week.

Friday, February 15, 2008

From AD to GB

Gordon Brown carried out a number of duties today as he travelled across North Wales to Labour's eve of conference rally in Llandudno. I was a guest of Betty Williams MP at the visit to the new Enviornmental Research Centre in Bangor and here are Gordon, Betty and the Vice Chancellor Merfyn Jones at the speeches.
Nice to chat to Gordon in Bangor about the new £9 million pound centre (more investment in Arfion) and then again after the rally in Llandudno. Never miss the chance to push Arfon's case whenever an opportunity arises.

Menter Fachwen

Great to take Andrew Davies AM, who is the Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery to Menter Fachwen to meet their team and hear about their invaluable work in the local community, and link to India.
The encouraging news is that they are making the vital transition from grant support to sustainability which is great for the local economy and the role this company play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Leighton welcomes 10,000 winning stories

It was great to welcome Leighton Andrews AM, who is also the Assembly Miister for Regeneration, to Caernarfon today and for him to congratulate the 10,000th visitor to Redline Indoor Karting. Champagne was in order (See photos to follow).
What a great success for the Former Friction Dynamics workers. They have now taken on some previously unemployed people to help move their business forward. Fantastic.
Leighton was announcing Welsh Labour's new economic commission and the media were in attendance. (Hopefully see Sharp End at 11.05 on HTV tonight and somewhere on the BBC tomorrow).
Leighton also helped me to launch a "Driving Forward Business" survey that I will be running in Arfon over the next few months. I want to hear more about what the local business community has to say - how can we provide for more and better paid jobs in our communities.
Is it a skills challenge, new investment, different regulation, what are company prospects for the next 12 months ? I will be asking all this and more in the coming period.
ps I still can't persuade leighton that WBA are a better bet than Cardiff !

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unhappy for Valentine's

Time to send Alwyn some Valentine's roses - just don't send them from Adam,Leanne or Bethan !

The seaside beckons

Welsh Labour's conference beckons this weekend in sunny (?) Lllandudno and will prove to be an interesting event as we listen to new leaders (well second time around for Paul Murphy) and continue to rebuild after last May's elections. In both public and private sessions we will focus on how to build support, refresh our approaches while still delivering in government.
We wait to see what stunts our opponents try to throw up as distractions, but I don't think we will be diverted from facing the challenges of the future. I look forward to welcoming various guests to Arfon and more reports over the coming days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Its called a wobble

Only one goal and one point from two games. This a wobble.

Sack the board - and other rational reactions !

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good economic news for Gwynedd

I was pleased to read here, here and here that the private sector has not given up on Pwllheli and with a fair wind could end up providing an economic injection for this part of the county. Since the original furore we have waited for sight of an alternative but it is clear the marina and its untapped potential are the areas brightest hope.
Was the original decision an example of acting in haste and repenting at leisure ?
Good luck to those concerned.

Heavy reading but enlightening

The lecture delivered by Rowan Williams was heavy going (hence some of the problems) but I am glad he has continued to explore the issues raised via the General Synod session. I think public life will be the poorer if the media can harass such debate out of public life.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Canterbury's Hurriacane

I have heard Rowan Williams speak on several occassions and he has always struck me as a figure of such authority and learning that he is worth listening to. Given that deep thoughts met a modern media storm I thought we might all benefit from a link to what he said, which can be different to how some perceived what he said.

Nice evening

The closing phase of a beautiful February day and as I was in Caernarfon I took a few photos in the setting sun. There has been much debate about Victoria Dock, and the managing director recently told the welsh language magazine Golwg, something to the effect, that the project is causing more headaches than all of the company's other schemes put together.
Tonight it just looked nice I thought and the view from the balcony of the penthouse back to the sunset must have been superb.

Another £35 million of investment

Some leafletting work in Bangor and, as the sun was shining, a chance to capture images of the current £35 million pounds of investment in new halls and facilities at Bangor University. I am now struck by the evidence of investment across Arfon and what a good story that is to tell. In many sectors and in many ways Arfon is a better place thanks to Labour's work since 1997.

As night follows day ........


Friday, February 08, 2008

70 for 8 - time for a media feast ?

Not the cricket but the confirmation from Rhodri Morgan AM, as he celebrates eight years as First Minister, that he will step down as the FM at the age of 70.

With a week to go before the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno I have little doubt this will spark a mini media feast about who can follow in Rhodri's steps. Each speeach and visit analysed for leadership ambition. I hope those having any interest in the role focus on getting the job of government done first, as it is delivery and action that will deliver a Labour First Minister not beauty parades.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Llanberis awash with good news

I was a guest of the union UNITE in Llanberis today as John Griffiths the Minister for Skills awarded certificates to employees of Snowdon Mountain Railway, Glanbia Cheese and Irish Ferries. John emphasised the importance of social partnership and skills development for the future of Wales and gave hearty congratulations for the acheivement of the workers. Over lunch it was inspiring to hear the experience of the staff who had tkaen their steps from IT phobia to IT literacy.
I recall Alun Ffred Jones AM criticising the Wales Union Learning Fund ("this seems a questionable use of public money to help achieve a political end") when Labour reaffirmed the value of skills training, like the staff at Snowdon Mountain Railway who gained ICT skills. I wonder what he would tell the workers in his constituency now ?
In congratulating the workers Andy Richards did not forget this point, and pictured are Andy, Paddy McNaught, John Griffiths AM at the awards ceremony.
(Congratulations also to Coleg menai who were awarded earlier in the day for their work with employers).
Llanberis also had good news with the new jobs in Glyn Rhonwy. I have previously been critical of inaction at this site so I am happy to offer congratulations to all involved for this investment.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In the meantime....

Of course I was pleased to be in London on that same day when business included :

The Fourth Delegated Legislative Committee Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Wales) Regulations 2008.

(I hope I wrote it down accurately).

Anyway it was standing room only !!

A small step to a big future

In the midst of ongoing debate and the preparations for a new Commission there was a small, but in many ways big, event at the Assembly.

Okay it is only for political anoraks but this is the type of process we must get under the belt if devolution is to prove itself in terms of measures related to people's needs.

Having listened to Carwyn in Bangor last week it made a little more sense in terms of Fields, Measures and ALCOs (I think!)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

London calling - Albert's big greenhouse !

Just back from a visit to London making a contribution for Wales on the Party's 'Sustainable Communities Commission'. With updates from Ruth Kelly and Hazel Blears I found the chance to share and compare our policy practise and experience very interesting.
I also had the chance to catch up with Albert Owen MP and his team and was pleased to speak to Betty Williams MP who was in very good health !
I called by Albert's big new greenhouse - well not really!. As a town planner I took the chance to see the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, and what a great place to spend a few minutes taking in coffee (not the long champagne bar) and a special rail atmosphere. The pictures can't quite capture the scale and grandeur of the station. Up until some 10 years ago I spent many an hour in the nearby unison hq and to now see the British library and St Pancras shows the power of regeneration and investment.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Fair deal ?

The Daily Post covers the latest chapter in Gwynedd Council's equal pay dispute with the trade unions, including the union of which I am a member (UNISON). I know a number of people who are being asked to attend meetings this week to consider signing up for some "cash" now, or to hang out for a potentially bigger amount after a Tribunal process. The unions have not agreed the level of back pay so they are asking members to reject the offer.

Dyfed Edwards

I have been contacted by Plaid Cymru Councillor Dyfed Edwards who feels yesterdays reference to personalised comments in the Gwynedd schools debate (not involving me) is unfair. I am happy to point this out. The schools debate is complex enough and I look forward to reading Dyfed's continuing responses to Llais Gwynedd. My recollection was that some of the letters referred to individuals by name, rather than the issue itself. I am happy if that needs to be corrected.
It is unlikely that how I interpret the correspondence, and debate, between Plaid Cymru and Llais Gwynedd over schools is of such great consequence. It is a battle that needs no help from me.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Feeling the heat ?

Interesting to see Alun Ffred Jones on the BBC Politics Show putting on the national media one message he has previoulsy put in the Caernarfon Herald, and another argument the angle of which I find a little suprising.
The argument we have read in the Herald is Ffred's concern that the Gwynedd schools debate is being personalised and that is not helpful to rational decision. There may be some truth in this, but it also suggests to me Plaid Cymru leaders are feeling the heat. The vibes I detect are that Richard Parry Hughes (the council leader who succedded Ffred in Gwynedd, and Dafydd Iwan - Ffreds brother - are under the hammer in general comment about the future of schools). However Ffred should also advise his own side on this because some of the contributions made by Cllr Dyfed Edwards (who took on the schools portfolio during this crisis) have also been personalised in nature.
But the new angle that I found a little strange was people should not put their schools debate above the national project for Scottish style powers. I find this is a slightly strange pitch as it suggests to people that their local school is less important than Plaid's wish for increasing devolutionary powers. I am not convinced that this is an argument people will buy, especially as some of those fearing for a school will not share Plaid's political objectives. I can see it upsetting more people.

Refreshing Ideas

Welsh Labour's response to the election results of May 2007 continues. Ideas Wales picks up various comments in the blogspehere like here and here and even the Western Mail being on side.

As Labour has to face the dual challenge of governing, and refreshing policy in government, (as will Plaid Cymru now) the new think tank can hopefully provide some opportunituies for challenging debate, without the modern media obsession of turning every event in to a crisis.

Very welcome and I can think of a number of policy areas in which some "think tank" insights could usefully move debate forward, not the least of which I would put the language rights debate up for consideration as to how Welsh Labour could make more progressive steps.

A bit of a blur

Having joined work mates in Bangor for a social drink over the rugby, it became an extended social period as a celebration of the great turnaround. Very enjoyable, if a bit of a blur.