Gwefan Ymgyrch / Campaign Website

Ydych chi wedi ymweld â gwefan yr ymgyrch eto?

Have you visited the campaign website yet?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Calls for scallop survey during dredging ban.

Plaid Cymru’s Penri James has called for a comprehensive survey of scallop beds in Cardigan Bay during the current prohibition on scallop dredging in the area.

The Plaid Cymru Westminster Candidate for Ceredigion believes that such a survey will assist in developing a sustainable scallop fishery in the Bay.

Calling for a survey of scallop beds, Penri James said:

“Now that scallop fishing in Cardigan Bay has been put on hold until next year, I believe that it’s essential that every effort is made to produce a detailed survey of the scallop beds in the area.

“The Wales Fisheries Strategy 2008 seeks to produce a sustainable scallop fishery in the Bay and a sustainable fishery needs a baseline to work from. It will guide the appropriate amount of fishing effort once it is reopened next year.

“As a result, I would like to see the Welsh Assembly Government, Countryside Council for Wales and the North Western and North Wales Sea Fisheries Committee bring forward proposals to commission such work.

“Of course, I am concerned about the effect the recently-announced temporary ban on scallop dredging will have on local fishermen. However, I also believe that the over-dredging of scallops in the area is a serious threat to their businesses as well as a threat to the local environment”.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Liberal Democrat expenses code is window dressing

Doing something about the discredited allowance system in Westminster is a must, the European system has its problems and the Assembly has, I believe, got its own system more or less sorted. That's why this announcement by the Lib Dems to put in place its own code of conduct for MP's, MEP's and AM's smells of the opportunism for which they are famous. The glaring omission is councillors expenses. What will Kirsty do with councillors who abuse the system? What about those councillors who have council tax arrears? As councillors are paid a significant allowance from the public purse then why exclude them from the code? Are they less important and insignificant? A change in culture on allowances is a requirment from top to bottom so include all not the few.

Aberystwyth in the Autumn

Two significant Open days took place in Aberystwyth yesterday, an open day for the new Assembly Building and an open day for prospective students at Aberystwyth University. I took a flying visit to the first and was involved with the second.
The Assembly building to house civil servants relocated from Cardiff and other locations in mid Wales was formally opened by Rhodri Morgan on Thursday last. Inside its an impressive building but the security is probably a bit much for Aberystwyth. I hope people visit the site and use the cafe in particular and yesterday morning it was busy, which is a welcoming sight. Relocating well paid jobs to Aberystwyth can only benefit the local economy and it was particularly disappointing to see our local MP sniping from the sides about the number of jobs available. In the current economic climate any additional posts in Ceredigion are welcome.
The ability of Aberystwyth University to recruit students also has a substantial effect on the future economic stability of Ceredigion. This year's freshers intake is a record built on the record intake for the last academic year and numbers bring in money, money brings in staff, and staff bring in additional research funds, much of which will find its way into the local economy. A good open day does the world for recruitment and the weather was with us yesterday as well! Its expected as an employee of the University that "...I would say that wouldn't I...." but we need to recognise and congratulate the positive effect that the University, the National Library, the Hospital and other public service institutions have on our communities in Ceredigion. Its economic and cultural.
Public service job provision insulates a local economy from the immediate effects of recession however the effect is often delayed. Without apportionating blame - poor regulation, excessive risk taking, iappropriate economic policies etc. - Government is faced with a lower tax take and increased interest charges to fund its borrowing, which in turn reduces the funds available to finance public bodies. For areas dependent on such funding now is a critical time. Its for that reason want to see my AM working hard to to protect the local economy - which she does, and its the duty of an MP to do the same.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The most important day in the Council calendar?

I have always believed that the day on which central government, be it WAG or any other, announces the local government financial settlement for the forthcoming year as being one of the most important events in their calendar. The day the budget and council tax are set are other notable days.
Today Brian Gibbons AM announced the 2010-11 settlement and considering the state of the economy a settlement of 2.1% average overall (range 1.0%-3.1%) is probably as much as can be expected. Of the rural authorities Ceredigion comes out well on a 2.1% increase from last year. Its good news for Ceredigion and shows how a Plaid influenced Welsh government has worked to minimise the effect of cuts on local government. Incidentally the increase in Assembly funding from London is 2.1%.
From a political perspective in Ceredigion the announcement has undermined an electoral strategy the Lib Dems were depending on for the General Election campaign - Ceredigion is getting a bad deal from the Labour-Plaid Government in Cardiff. That's rubbish, not true and too narrowly focused on a County Council perspective (too many advisors with too many vested interests in the council camp methinks!). Our MP has been busy over the last few weeks distributing leaflets complaining about the lack of funds allocated to Ceredigion CC, well Ceredigion is no better or worse off than any other local authority with the settlement hitting the national average. Maybe he would recommend that we raid the coffers of those Lib Dems authorities in Wrexham and Cardiff who have had above average settlements of 3.1% and 3.0% respectively. As more powerful politicians I suspect that Cllrs Roberts and Berman will give him short shrift.
UPDATE press release by Elin Jones AM and Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn
Assembly Government to pass on same funding increase to Ceredigion County Council.

Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones AM has said that Ceredigion County Council will be receiving the same percentage increase in funding as the Assembly Government itself received from the UK Treasury.

The Assembly Government’s Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Brian Gibbons AM, announced provisional figures this week where local authorities in Wales will see their funding for the 2010 – 2011 financial year rise by an average 2.1 per cent.

This is identical to the funding increase which the Assembly Government will be receiving from the Westminster Government next year and Ceredigion County Council itself will in turn be receiving a funding increase of 2.1 per cent as a result of this announcement.

Commenting on the proposed funding increase for Ceredigion County Council, Elin Jones AM said:

“Provisional figures released this week indicate that Ceredigion County Council will in fact be receiving the same increase in funding for the coming financial year as the Assembly Government.

“All public services are feeling the pinch at the moment as a result of the Westminster Government’s multi-billion pound bank bailout. Wales is no exception and the Assembly Government has received a lower percentage increase in funding for the coming year than expected.

The leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Ceredigion County Council, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn, added:

“While Ceredigion County Council is likely to fare slightly better than other rural local authorities in Wales in this budget settlement, the continued squeeze on public sector finance at all government levels means that we face difficult choices over the coming months.

Latest poll shows Plaid set to regain Ceredigion

One of the largest opinion polls ever conducted shows that Plaid Cymru is well placed to regain the Ceredigion constituency seat at the forthcoming General Election.
The survey – undertaken by renowned pollsters YouGov Plc on behalf of PoliticsHome – consisted of 33,610 interviews across 238 marginal seats that will decide the next UK General Election.

In Wales the poll suggested major gains in support for Plaid and the Conservatives at the expense of Labour and the Lib Dems. Plaid Cymru is predicted to gain three seats while the Conservatives are likely to gain eight constituencies. Both Liberal Democrats and Labour are likely to lose seats.

Commenting on these figures, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“This latest opinion poll underlines the increased support for both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives at the expense of the LibDems and Labour throughout Wales. The electorate is clearly looking for political parties who can find solutions to the serious problems we face.

“Here in Ceredigion, these figures reflect the warm welcome which Plaid Cymru and I have received while out campaigning. There is an appreciation that Plaid delivers for Ceredigion but there remains a lot of work to be done as the General Election draws nearer and I’m looking forward to continue campaigning over the coming months”.

Extra Penparcau allotments must be a priority – Penri James

Plaid Cymru’s Penri James has called on Ceredigion County Council to ensure that plans to increase the number of allotments in Penparcau are progressed without delay.
Ceredigion County Council owns land next to the current allotments near Min-y-Ddôl, Penparcau, and a proposal to provide more land to increase provision for local residents was made over the summer. However, Ceredigion’s Cabinet have delayed taking a decision on the plans.

In the meantime, Plaid Cymru’s County Councillor for Penparcau, Rob Gorman, has joined Penri James on a visit to the Council-owned land in question near Min-y-Ddôl.

Following the visit, Penri James – Plaid Cymru Ceredigion’s Westminster Candidate – has raised the matter with Cllr Ray Quant, who manages the portfolio with responsibility for the council’s property.

On the need to increase the provision of allotments in the Aberystwyth area, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“The demand for allotments in Ceredigion is substantial as the current long waiting list of applicants demonstrates. This list is slowly growing as the benefits of maintaining an allotment – both in terms of providing an efficient way of growing food and getting exercise – are increasinly publicised these days.

“I therefore hope that Ceredigion’s Cabinet can approve plans to provide additional land to increase the provision of allotments in the Aberystwyth area, with the hope that everything will be ready by the next growing season in 2010”.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Press Freedom

Some stories crop up and fill you with disbelief. The Guardian has been gagged from reporting Parliament for an unspecified reason by an injuction sought by those favourites of the media, Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners. Here's the article:-
The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."

The media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said Lord Denning ruled in the 1970s that "whatever comments are made in parliament" can be reported in newspapers without fear of contempt.

He said: "Four rebel MPs asked questions giving the identity of 'Colonel B', granted anonymity by a judge on grounds of 'national security'. The DPP threatened the press might be prosecuted for contempt, but most published."

The right to report parliament was the subject of many struggles in the 18th century, with the MP and journalist John Wilkes fighting every authority – up to the king – over the right to keep the public informed. After Wilkes's battle, wrote the historian Robert Hargreaves, "it gradually became accepted that the public had a constitutional right to know what their elected representatives were up to".

Guido has more information for all.
The Guardian will appeal, lets pray its successful. If we cannot read reports from Parliament then there is no point for Parliament itself but it always intrigues me, who are the Judges who allow such gagging orders?

Minister for Europe

Lady Kinnock has been moved from Europe Minister to have resonsibility for Africa and Asia and been replaced by Chris Bryant. I have never been impressed by either but its the downgrading of the Europe job that is of concern. In the hierarchial world of Government politics a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (new grading for Europe - Bryant) has to visit a Minister of State (new grading for Africa and Asia - Kinnock). Surely Europe is not less important to us than Africa and Asia? Perhaps there is an easier explanation, is it a face saving exercise for Glenys now that her talents have been found out? Chris Bryant and Europe should get the clout the job demands irrespective of the after effects on the previous incumbent.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Energy policy

The Project Discovery - Energy Market Scenarios report by Ofgem will, I believe, turn out to be one of the most important contributions in getting politicians and the public fully aware of the energy desert that confronts us. The Ofgem press release is here, th FT has collated the main findings here and responses here. The Guardian makes an interesting and valid point here, capitalism doesn't always work.
The four scenarios considered by Ofgem were:-

Green Transition: Under this scenario there is a rapid economic recovery and a significant expansion in investment in green measures. Domestic renewables targets are met and energy efficiency measures are effective. GB gas demand falls but electricity demand increases due to greater use of electric vehicles and heat pumps. The effect on domestic consumer bills is an increase of 23% by 2020.
Green Stimulus: There is a slow recovery from the recession and restricted availability of finance. Governments around the world implement green stimulus packages to achieve environmental goals and boost economic activities. High carbon prices and government policies support investment in renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage. The effect on domestic consumer bills is an increase of 14% by 2020.
Dash for Energy: Global economies bounce back strongly but security of supply concerns prevail over meeting environmental targets. As a result GB renewables targets and the Government’s carbon budgets are missed. Competition between countries for energy resources results in tight gas supplies and high fuel prices. Planning and supply chain constraints prevent new nuclear plant from becoming operational before 2020. The effect on domestic consumer bills is an increase of more than 60% by 2016 before falling back.
Slow Growth: The recession continues resulting in investment in gas and electricity infrastructure being considerably lower than before the credit crunch. Low gas and electricity prices coupled with low carbon prices reduce incentives to build nuclear and renewable power plant. This results in an increasing dependence on imported gas for new gas-fired power stations. The effect on domestic consumer bills is relatively low in early years but an increase of 22% by 2020 as conditions tighten.
Irrespective which scenario is more or less likely, in order to secure our energy supply and meet carbon targets we could be looking at investment of up to £200 billion. Considering that the National Debt is the largest ever and in the region of £800 billion adding another £200 billion makes you gulp. To make it worse, it is likely that increases in domestic energy bills of between 14% and 25% by 2020 (from 2009 levels) and possible wholesale price spikes of 60% in the meantime are frightening. But that is the point! Its time for a major debate on the culture of energy use and a sensible, consistent, without predjudice policy driven debate on renewables/nuclear/fossil energy in conjunction with energy conservation regimes. You cannot divorce one from the other.
The matter of greatest concern is energy security here in West Wales. We are at the end of the line when it comes to transmission but further up the ladder when it comes to clean renewable energy generation. If there is such a thing as 'transmission miles' - by Ohm's Law it does exist - then using generated electricity closer to source has some advantages.

25 years of Cerdd Ystwyth

Aberystwyth has one music shop - Cerdd Ystwyth - and it celebrates its 25 anniversary this year. I am the first to admit that I am not particularly musical but the rest of the family are. My visits to Cerdd Ystwyth are usually errands on behalf of my wife who is a music teacher to pick up books, sheets of music, sometime instruments or often a general enquiry.
On Saturday night we were kindly invited by Libby to the Cliff Cafe on Constitution Hill to celebrate. Thank you Libby for the hospitality and wonderful evening. As you would expect there was musical entertainment, some excellent folk pieces and a band playing material by Django Reinhardt, it was absolutely fantastic. I recognised a touch of Grapelli there but I hadn't heard this music before. Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why I hadn't come accross this before? It really has made an impression.
Now this is the kind of material I normally listen to:-

I must go out and find a CD of Django Reinhardt but it doesn't mean I will stop listening to Rock. Still unreconstructed I'm afraid.....

Here's a clip of Django Reinhardt:-

Friday, 9 October 2009

Elin Jones - Farming Champion

An Agriculture Minister is well used to presenting awards to champions but Elin is now a champion herself. In the Farmers Weekly Awards 2009 Elin and Chief Vet in Wales Christianne Glossop were presented with the Farming Champions Award for their work in dealing with TB. The recognition is well deserved. Congratulations.