Monday, March 31, 2008

Climate change pessimism - but can't give up

Little stories like this one make me feel pessimistic about our ability to tackle climate change. I think whatever control measures we all think are good for us, and planet earth, the way we organise our lives means we fall short during implementation. I do not argue against air flight, that would be too Luddite, and some extra regional links such as Valley can make sense in an overall transport jigsaw - however marketised incentives to "waste" air travel must clearly be stamped out. And increasing global wealth can only mean more travel.

Part of me says that in the near future it is an industry that will require more regulation for the good of planet earth. And yet I read of the new open skies policy and the growth in air miles that will arise as a result. Cue that feeling of pessimism again!.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

That thing called a political reality

I am finding some of Plaid Cymru's comments from their Spring conference quite interesting. For example I have contested two elections with Mr Alun Ffred Jones and listened to the all his Party's campaign tales of Labour's alleged ills, and what Plaid would do. Well since they joined the One Wales government we have seen what they can do.
It seems AFJ now describes this as follows :
"You have to take responsibility, and you have to accept that you can't do everything that you would like to do"
exactly what Labour candidates were saying about the reality of government at the same elections.
Meanwhile having lost control of councils a few years ago, it seems IWJ wants to shake up the councils. Perhaps hanging on to Gwynedd should be their short term aim because ending up with none would not look good for our One Wales partners.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Well Wembley may have lost one game , and Leighton may have got his ticket last week, but if the computerised system tells me the truth then today I secured my ticket for the WBA v Portsmouth semi-final. Hooray. Fingers crossed and now planning to be at Wembley for a 12.15 kick off.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Handy new shop

In these days of concern over the decline in local services I was glad to see this new handy shop opening in Llangefni.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The future's bright

Perhaps lots of media interest in Beck's 100th cap but a great football story for the Wales under 21 team. So Cardiff for FA cup final, Swansea promotion, Wrexham survival (please) and that would give Welsh soccer some fight back against 6 nation mania. Even TNS may not win the league of Wales.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

After the chocolate binge!

Perhaps it was a quiet news day but as I left for work the announcement regarding controls on vending machines in hospitals was making the headlines, and it was still there as I came home. I have little doubt that the controls are generally sensible for public health but I doubt it is that big a story.
I also have doubts whether this really turns us in to a nation of healthy beings, but each little step will help.
Perhaps Edwina had a private smile as the announcement came after a weekend of binge chocolate eating (obviusly not for me).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sea spray in the gale

Tomorrow I will return to politics but for Bank Holiday Monday I will share a picture of the North Anglesey coast (Bull Bay) in the teeth of the Bank Holiday weather !! A refreshing walk....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Christian leaders had a number of things to say this Easter, but I thought I would opt for a picture of a Spring day looking over the daffodils towards Eryri from Plas Newydd Anglesey.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Public vindication can be important

In the week I briefly touched upon the tribunal of Mr Aeron Jones who was unfairly dismissed from the enterprise company Cymad. I have had some involvement with issues around Cymad as a number of questions have arisen about the activities undertaken by the company, some of which lead to a court prosecution for the Chief Executive.

I have little doubt that in spite of the delays, frustration and stress Mr Aeron Jones will take great comfort from the public vindication of his stance. The company unfairly dismissed him for exposing wrong doing.

What will the company now do about those involved with the wrongdoing ?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yes it was three !

Just realised I had 3 questions, not 2 !

Schools reorganisation - what do Plaid mean ?

So with weeks to go to the council election I can only assume Plaid's canvassing is not going well and we suddenly have an announcement that the schools reorganisation plan is changed. Now I know Plaid is the ruling group but don't such matters have to be decided by the Council ?

Do Plaid feel that in calling a meeting to change the timetable that people will not see the naked politics involved - time to save Iwan and Parry Hughes skin.

I had two questions on the whole plan :

a) where is the evidence that wide spread federalisation works ?

b) what level of commitment has been made to capital spending on new buildings, rather than wishful plans ?

c) why were innovative ideas (Plaid's claim) not piloted to give people confidence in the change rather than throw the whole county up in the air ?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today I could have blogged about Plaid Cymru's sudden rethink on schools reorganisation, or the settlement of the case of unfair dismissal involving the former finance director at Cymad. However as it has been a beautiful Spring day and work took me the banks of the Menai Strait I have decided to share a glimpse of nature's magic. I could have been in some city bustle, or stuck behind a desk, but was pleased to have a glimpse of Spring air.
Both shots are from Moel Y Don on the Anglesey side of the the Strait looking east and west. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Andrew Davies AM the Assembly Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery today (Tuesday) joined Martin Eaglestone, Labour's Westminster candidate in Arfon, for a visit to Ty Cegin centre on the Maesgeirechen estate, Bangor to listen to views about how local services can be better delivered with a citizen focus.

Martin Eaglestone said

"I think we realise that after several years of record increases in public spending that the financial circumstances are now a little different. The visit by Andrew Davies provided an opportunity to listen to local expereinces about sustaining a project which underpins local community development".

Andrew davies AM said

"In my role as Minister for Public Service Delivery I am keen to ensure that we put citizens at the centre of our agenda. There is a significant resource held in many public bodies and we must ensure they focus that resource on the needs of local citizens in their own communities. I was really pleased to hear about the broad range of working taking place on the esate involving bodies like the Tenants group, the Police, probation service, environment groups and so on. The Assembly's Communities First project also being essential in driving forward a coordination of efforts. If other bodies like the Council and Health Service can align their spending to initiatives identified by the community then we can keep the whole process moving forward".

Martin Eaglestone added

"Ty Cegin has come through difficult times and like other community projects has to continue the battle for increased self sufficiency but I have no doubt the resolve of the community will keep the show on the road".

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ouch !

Well in troubled times better to fight the enemy within than your opponents. Blimey I thought the celebrity boxing was on Sports Relief - but this carries similar sized gloves.

Interesting insights

I enjoyed Jonathon Powell's interview with Andrew Marr yesterday morning, and today's piece in the Guardian is also insightful. People like Powell are the glue that holds a certain style of state together and what they have to say and tell is of interest. I think these extracts suggest this book is perhaps a bit more lively than Campbell's, but one suspects Alastair has stuff held back for another day. How fascinating that Powell invited those enemies of the state with whom he had dealt with for so long to his wedding. Such journeys tell us a lot about the changing nature of our human character depending on our life experience.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rent equalisation delays stock transfer process

I understand that Plaid in Gwynedd have now had to face the consequences of making no previous moves on the equalisation of council rents. As a result the Council will have to write to all tenants explaining that the offer relating to stock transfer will be based on equalisation of rents across the county.

It is of interest to me as tenants in Arfon have generally paid more over the years.

It seems the letter to tenants may not appear before May's elections (for some surprising reason) but the problem is the significant disparity in rents between three previous district areas of Arfon, Dwyfor and Meirionnydd.

Rent equalisation must be clearly spelt out in the offer document to be received by tenants. An issue in which I feel Arfon has been let down by Plaid Cymru and we await to see what their previous heartlands make of the news.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why now ?

Regular readers know rugby is not my game, but it is a great time when the Grand Slam comes too hand. I know there is great joy - a look at the local pubs as evidence of that !.

Sorry to be cautious but it just feels like the wrong time. Various other teams seem to have come out of the world cup to start rebuilding (crikey even the great enemy didn't start with JW), while I fear Wales peak in year one. Great joy but where will matters be at time of the next World Cup ?

Anyway more time for this theory -tonight celebrate like Glyn (or watch the game with a proper ball/Match of the Day in my case).

Big challenges

I have often wondered if the Freedom of Information could be applied to the air miles covered by people who choose to lecture me from global conferences about the environment and climate change. But I digress - the Guardian carries some useful coverage of "green" reaction to the budget.

The budget made some initial steps on a journey I think can only strengthen IF (?) we want to respond to global and climate challenges.

A bit like Sprorts Relief or charity gigs, the initial response is important, but not as telling as long term change in our lifestyles that we must root in action quickly.

One hell of a challenge in our democratic system with short term horizons.

Oh dear

It is reaching a critical stage and everyone starts to beat everyone else. However we do not want much more of this thank you. Hull making the late charge - and some 11 teams still chasing the top six and potential play offs. Exciting stuff.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not a year for heroic acts

I contributed to Radio Cymru's Post Prynhawn with a general feeling that 2008 was not a year for a heroic budget, but something that actually suits this Chancellor's public persona very well, a quiet efficient budget. I think that's what we got.

The 'green' elements are something I actually welcome as the initial steps on a journey that has to develop over the coming years. There are big challenges out there, not the least of which is the polluter pays principle in a democratic system. Yes the pace may not be what some expect but a journey which will unfold.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Giving up pay - Long term commitment ?

So Ieuan joins others in declaring that he will not take the pay rise. They must be happy bunnies down in the coffee bar at the Bay. Now I feel the need to repeat my previous question.

Will Mr Jones submit not only this year's rise, but calculate his future pay on the lower rate, and any consequential pension benefits. It is the offer I made to Alun Ffred Jones the other day and am likewise happy to administer Mr Jones long term increases as well for the benefit of all.

It would ensure we don't have one year's posturing but long term arrangements.

Giving up pay - Long term commitment ?

So Ieuan joins others in declaring that he will not take the pay rise. They must be happy bunnies down in the coffee bar at the Bay. Now I feel the need to repeat my previous question.

Will Mr Jones submit not only this year's rise, but calculate his future pay on the lower rate, and any consequential pension benefits. It is the offer I made to Alun Ffred Jones the other day and am likewise happy to administer Mr Jones long term increases as well for the benefit of all.

It would ensure we don't have one year's posturing but long term arrangements.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Adam follows Eluned

I think it was Eluned Morgan who contributed to Welsh Labour's election de brief by stating that Welsh Labour has to also remember those who have aspirations, and to make sure our tent is big enough to represent their views.

It seems Adam Price has now found a similar message, very confusing this One Wales stuff. I suppose it is budget week so perhaps Adam wants a New Plaid Cymru to replace that socialist clap trap which so upsets some of his traditional cultural colleagues.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wembley ! Wembley !

Well I avoided Leighton's Cardiff for today's quarter finals so after this I can only look forward to tomorrow's draw.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

How that then ????

I suppose it was the spin they wanted because some Plaid AMs have apparently "refused" the pay rise. How did that work ? Have we the evidence that they had submitted evidence against the possible uplifting to recognise their extra responsibilities ?

As far as I know the Assembly has to vote on the recommendations and, if passed, then the pay rise will apply with allowances review to follow. If the group concerned vote no then that's okay by me. See earlier post. I suppose they might even put the extra pay in to some special community fund - I would be happy to administer Alun Ffred's for him locally to ensure fair play.

However with other Plaid people voting yes it is inevitable the 'refuseniks' also gain in terms of eventual pensions etc etc.

Mowbray in the Guardian

The Sports Guardian has an interview with Tony Mowbray ahead of the game with Bristol Rovers.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rhodri Glyn even upsets London

I thnk one Plaid Cymru Minister faces an interesting conference. It seems here that his acts and words even upset London!

I suppose Elin Jones and Ieuan Wyn should be thankful as he could be the lightinng rod for any One Wales dissent.

Meanwhile how many speeches of resignation can we expect over schools reorganisation ? That would liven things up for us all or will even the Party of Wales have learnt about stage management.

ps any offers on who contributes to Plaid London, and closeness to Adam appreciated ??

The BIG game !

Well you will all have to wait till Sunday when the Baggies take on Bristol Rovers with a semi final at Wembley at stake.

Meanwhile if Wales make it through Dublin tomorrow then the high could carry them to a Grand Slam.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Unlikely ?

In the light of the previous post can it really be likely that Assembly Members would vote for such an increase while home carers, care assistants, front line staff and professionals of various kinds look at some 2%. It may be justified by reference to all sorts of issues but there is a basic question of social justice.

Unlikely - but a good way of generating industrial action I fear !

Public service workers

Surveys like this are of interest to me as a public service worker. It reflects my own experience that, while there is always room for improvement, the great majority of people get a reasonable deal from their public services. It is of course easy to focus on the problems rather than the successes. So I welcome things like Excellence Wales and everyone can learn from the best (and take lessons from the worst!)

Perhaps we have less of the telephone queuing systems, and the call may not always make it through, juggling priorities means direct contact is not always possible and the odd return phone call can be forgotten (we are human).

The value of the surveys is to highlight particular issues requiring more strategic attention and can inform difficult judgements about resource priorities.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Strange politics

It seems the Lib Dems can only be trusted to throw up the unexpected. With a myriad of options that would have allowed the referendum debate too continue without self harm, the new leader hits a self destuct button. Would anyone really have remembered how the Lib Dem MPs voted - I suspect they will remember the falllout.

Its beyond me, but I am sure has some good meaning in the narrow confines of Westminster.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lovely jubbly !

Mr Phillips - lovely jubbly. Step aside Bristol City because the mighty Baggies are charging back.

A poor Feb but now for the big run in......

Noisy cakes

I work in a town that is affected by the smells of industrial scale food processing and so know what can happen with such sites. However the story of the noisy cake factory brought a smile to my face.

I suppose we should have a competition for what types of cake make such a noise ?

Rock cakes would clearly make a noise, but sound more like a vandals weapon of choice more than a noisy neighbour.

Monday, March 03, 2008

About 40 years ago !!

Life stories - This shot has come to hand which shows "Siop chips" Waunfawr (the one near Caernarfon, not Aberystwyth) just before it was demolished and rebuilt about 40 years ago-snow on the ground. What a fine figure of a working lad that was.The 'new' siop chips is still there and serving great fish and chips friends tell me.

Thankfully with the election of a Labour government in 1997 child slavery was abolished in the UK.

It was about this time I met Dylan Iorwerth who lived in Waunfawr, now MD at Golwg, who (as I recall) is probably celebrating Spurs victory at Wembley. I taught him all he now knows about Welsh literature. That's Dylan's street cred gone in some circles. However I think Golwg deserves a decent slice of the new print monies as they produce a quality product in an attractive format.

Silly !

Why Edwina and Ben feel the need to have such a spat is a bit beyond me !

The merits of Edwina's announcement can be assessed on its own merits and I just hope the opportunity for 'free parking' does not make matters worse around our hospitals. We sometimes live in a strangely selfish world with unintended consequences e.g. I recall Ysbyty Gwynedd being used by people as a free car park close to the A55.

Strange that it should descend in to such exchanges - those of us at arms length are left wondering what has happened in the background ?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Rent equalisation in Gwynedd

I am no fan of council hosuing stock transfer although it is perhaps right tenants make the decision in a ballot. Before that Gwynedd face some interesting questions.
In particualr Council rents across Gwynedd need to be equalised if the Council transfers its housing stock away from the Council and to make sure the tenants in Arfon get a fair deal.

At the moment the Council are working on plans that will eventually lead to a balllot of council house tenants about whether to stay with the Council or move to a new landlord. At the moment rent levels in Arfon are generally higher than other parts of the county and that seems unfair. Gwynedd Council has been in place for eleven years and for some time the Council have told the Labour councillors in Gwynedd that rent equalisation will occur between the areas of the three old districts, Arfon, Dwyfor and Meirionnydd, but there is no firm evidence that this is happening.

It is very important that this matter is clarified and that the tenants in Arfon are given fair play and a level playing field. This must start soon and go in to the future if stock transfer takes place.
It is not an issue which the council can avoid and it will need to be very clear before tenants are asked about the merits of stock transfer. That decision will be a matter for the tenants themselves but they will need to know all the facts about rents before they enter a ballot. I asked the Council's Chief Leader to clarify the position as the discussions about a new housing company are now progressing. He tells me that moves are afoot to address the issue - we wait to see.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Plaid Cymru overcome by modesty !!!

The more I read of the Cangen Bontnewydd blog - unofficial Plaid HQ - the more I find to entertain me. In the recent posting about the Party of Wales v Llais Gwynedd is the following gem about PC candidates :

"Many are specialists in their various fields – others are brilliant politicians".

I won't be as personal as to name a few of these brilliant people, but come on Cangen Bontnewydd I think a sense of perspective is required.

Such modesty - how will the people ever find the cheek to unseat these brilliant people........

What a strange advert that would be - election candidates required, only brilliant people need apply.

Harsh !

Nick Bourne has been speaking to the Welsh Tories :

“Against Labour before the Assembly elections, propping them up afterwards. In the twinkling of an eye they have gone from attack dogs to lap dogs.”

We await to see how the Party of Wales respond at their own conference.

Those Tories are bad for North Wales

Well Labour and Lib Dems had trouble free events but this Tories are bad for North Wales !

Sod off Cameron you put us at risk........ European funding bites back at the Euro sceptics.