Tuesday, 27 October 2009

"Operation Christmas Goody Box" Appeal

While on holiday in Greece this year, I met a lad from Abergele who is a sergeant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. One of our conversations turned to Afghanistan and he told me what the conditions were like and how at times it was a very lonely place. The conversation then went on to how well Goody Boxes were received and what a boost to morale this had. This got me thinking that I would like to show my support and appreciation for the very difficult environment they are in and I also wanted to help. When I returned to Conwy, I spoke to Councillor Merfyn Thomas, who has a military background and he was aware of the goody boxes and the positive effect they have on morale.

Whether you agree or disagree with the war in Afghanistan, I believe our local troops deserve our support. Today in Tescos, Llandudno Junction, Councillor Merfyn Thomas and myself Launched Operation Christmas Goody Box. This appeal will run alongside one currently being held in Flintshire.

The Royal Welsh are about to go on a seven month tour in Helmand province. We are appealing for local people to show their support by donating toiletries, wet wipes, toothpaste, deodorant (not aerosol), shower gel and boiled sweets, mints, jellies, no chocolate. Magazines, puzzle books and writing materials are also needed.

A local school has agreed to write Christmas messages which will be placed in each box. Everything that is collected from Tescos in Llandudno Junction will be boxed up in Dale Barracks Chester and flown out hopefully in time for Christmas. Councillor Thomas and myself are looking to extend this appeal eastwards to Rhos on Sea and Colwyn Bay. You can donate from Thursday 29th October until 30th November at Tescos Llandudno Junction (there will be a trolley by the exit). I will update as and when we have more drop off sites.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Conwy Food Festival

Visited the food festival this morning, Conwy is looking great with big crowds and a steady stream of local people walking across the cob, it's really great to see such an event at the end of the season.
I spoke with some traders they said that despite yesterdays poor start with the weather, they were expecting good trade today, I wish them well.
Conwy is one of my most favourite Towns and it does seem to buck the trend with it's very successful butchers, bakers, fruit and Veg shop and Conwy Fine Wines, to name a few.


Friday, 23 October 2009


Paul Davies of the All Wales Directors of NHS Finance stunned the NAW Finance Committee this week with an admission that a fifth (£1billion) of the NHS budget is not being spent efficiently. Kirsty Williams commented

“While we acknowledge that this money is being spent on patient care, it is unacceptable that £1 billion is not being used to the maximum effect to benefit patients. This raises very serious questions about the strategic management of our NHS and its ability to deliver value for Welsh taxpayers’ money.“


Chancellors Debate

You have heard of the Leaders Debate, should it be followed by the Chancellors Debate?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Smoke Related Litter

Had a walk around Colwyn Bay today with the Head of Street Scene and an Officer from our Enforcement Team. We have two independent audits each year by Keep Wales Tidy and the problem of smoke related litter is always highlighted in their reports. The problem has got worse since the smoking ban and I think that this needs the attention of all departments across the Authority and the Police. I have particular concerns about cigarette butts outside some public houses and cafes and feel we need to all work together to eliminate this. The Environment Department has and is investing in different types of machinery that can pick up this litter and we are also now looking at litter bins with a type of ashtray attachment. I don't think this will be an easy nut to crack but we must keep trying.
I think the message has to go out that it is unacceptable to flick your cigarette out of your car window or stamp on it and leave it on the pavement. I received a phone call from a person a few weeks ago complaining that her son had received a fixed penalty fine for discarding his cigarette on the pavement, she asked if I could help have the fine rescinded. I said sorry I can't help!!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Outdoor Gym

Today in Rhos-On-Sea we launched an outdoor gym for our more mature residents, it was also good to see a couple using the equipment as we arrived for the Photo Shoot. In this picture left to right, Rhos-On-Sea Councillors Phil Edwards and Roger Parry, Lyn Davies Head of Street scene and his assistant Mr Peter Barton-Price and Myself.

Check out the link to find out more on this equipment

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Welsh Conference

Just Home from conference in Wrexham. Came back to some sad news that our 18 year old cat "Zag" had to be put to sleep. To me he was a good, loyal, boy!!
A very important motion was passed at conference regarding elected members allowances and transparency. A code of conduct for members of the Assembly and Parliament was passed. Every Welsh candidate or elected AM/MP will adhere to the following pledges:
  • No Welsh Liberal Democrat AM/MP will be able to profit from selling their subsidised second homes. Any AM/MP already owning a second home will return any profits to the relevant Fees Office after ceasing to be an AM/MP.
  • I will not flip my second or first residence (unless for significant family or ministerial reasons)
  • I will not claim for furniture, household goods, non essential capital improvements or stamp duty
  • Any new AM/MP will be allowed a nominal set up cost for any second residence. Any expenditure will represent best value for money and be published in full
  • I will claim for rent, ground rent, hotels, overnight subsistence, with receipts, mortgage interest, council tax, service charges, utility bills, telephone, line rental, insurance, building and contents
  • I will always aim to get the best value for money on trips, property, overnight stays and any other expenses claimed
  • I will always be open with the tax authorities on any rental income received from my second home
  • Any couples married or otherwise will only claim for one second residence to the equivalent of one persons rental, mortgage and utilities allowance
  • I will regularly publish my own expenses in the interest of transparency

Anybody who fails to sign up to these standards or fails to comply with them will, under the Welsh Party Rules, no longer be eligible to stand as a Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate.

I will sign up to this Code of Conduct and feel it will go some way in instilling confidence in politics.

I feel that the government should own properties and rent them out to politicians on a fixed term period, perhaps after the 2012 Olympics the government could adapt the athletes village and rent the properties out (i.e. stopping individuals capitalising on second homes) and ultimately having an asset at the end of the contract, just a thought!!.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Please Can we have some more!

Busy day Tuesday. Informal Cabinet 10am-12noon, planning site visit Deganwy 12.30pm, Cabinet 2pm-4.30pm and a Governors meeting at Ysgol Maelgwn 6.30pm-8.30pm.

It was announced at Cabinet that we have received our provisional Welsh Assembly Settlement, an increase of 1.1% against a Wales average of 2%. It is worth noting that confirmation of our settlement will be in December, now is the time for all Councillors that can, to lobby their Assembly Members. I will be lobbying the Liberal Democrats this weekend at Conference in Wrexham.

Forecast Expenditure for Conwy 2010/2011:



WAG Settlement including increase £146,042,000

Council Tax £ 38,485,000

Council Tax increase 5% ?? £1,924,000

Shortfall £4,542,000 - Savings have been identified and we have a group of Councillors and Officers working together to identify future savings, it has to be said they are doing a great job.

I am working with the Environment Department to find 2% efficiency savings and the truth of the matter is that it's getting really difficult, our budget is £12,600,000.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Parking Attendants/Civil Enforcement Officers

I think parking around the county has become easier since the introduction of Conwys parking attendants, for example I am a customer of Edwards of Conwy, it was always difficult to park for the 10-15 minutes needed, now I find it a lot easier.
It must be a very difficult job to carry out being a Civil Enforcement Officer (Traffic Warden) and I have heard of a few being verbally and physically assaulted. These officers have to be consistent in their approach because if they turn a blind eye to what one vehicle does and then ticket another, this would leave them wide open. By being consistent in a way protects these officers. There is a separate appeals panel that will consider any issues raised by drivers challenging tickets.
I attended a meeting at Llandudno Swimming pool on Friday night and left at around 8:15pm, I parked on the road just up from Boulevard, when leaving I saw two officers placing parking tickets on cars and also taking photos of them. I couldn't help thinking of the owners coming away from Conwy County Councils Venue Cymru, having seen a great show and enjoying the evening only to be presented with a parking fine. What a " Show Stopper ". I will take this up with the department concerned, surely if you are a customer of the Swimming pool or Venue Cymru you should get a pass. I will check to see what the procedure is at this site and update on this blog.

Libdem Meeting

Held a meeting last night, excellent venue, in a meeting room in Llandudno swimming pool.

After all the official business I announced my team for the forthcoming general election. I was particularly pleased to announce my Agent, Christine Humphreys, who is currently president of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and is vastly experienced politically and more importantly knows the role of agent. I announced a further ten posts all of which tie in to and will play a major role in the campaign which has started in Aberconwy. I am humbled by local people stopping me in the street and when I am out shopping offering help. My wife Lorraine has now added an extra half hour to our shopping trips!!

I am now very confident that we can campaign across the constituency. We now have up to forty friends and volunteers that can assist, deliver and canvass. A very positive meeting with some good feedback from visitors from Bangor and a good venue to hold a meeting, you could say I made quite a splash!!

When I left the meeting at around 8:15pm I witnessed Conwy's Parking attendants at work, I will blog this later.

Friday, 9 October 2009

WAG Building Llandudno Junction

I attended the ceremony of "Topping out " at the Llandudno Junction Welsh Assembly building yesterday which is a tradition of placing the last beam at the top of a building. This was conducted by the First Minister Rhodri Morgan, he was accompanied by Ieuan Wyn Jones Deputy First Minister.

This building project is being delivered by Pochin Construction for the Welsh Assembly Government and the value of the contract is around £20m, so far £13m has been spent, £9m locally. I was told that the project was on time and budget. On site working were around 100 sub-Contractors or as John Pochin called them build partners, most of them local.

Pochin expect to hand over the building to the Assembly in April 2010 and it's expected to be operational in the Summer of that year. I have to say I am amazed by the progress on this building.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tree Preservation Orders

Thought I'd share an incident with you that happened this afternoon. Around about 3pm I received a phone call from a resident who was in quite an anxious state. The call was regarding a future planning application and some tree felling on the site. The resident stated that they believed some of the trees being felled had protection orders on them and I was aware that the site had a number of trees with what is called Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's). When you receive a call like this you have to act quickly. I made a call to Conwy's Regulatory Services, asked for the TPO Officer and within half an hour was on site surveying it along with the Officer. It turned out in this instance the trees being felled were not protected, however, I have experienced on two other occasions protected trees being felled. One case we won in court and a £10,000 fine was imposed, the other we lost. I feel that chopping down protected trees is an act of vandalism.
Below is some information you may find useful regarding TPO's.

Conwy County Councils' planning (Regulatory Services) department deals with all matters relating to 'amenity trees'; those trees that are grown mainly because they help to improve the quality of our lives, rather than for their value as a timber crop. Amenity trees are found in town and country gardens, parks and other open spaces, or lining the sides of streets, railways and rivers. Not only do they make places more attractive, but they also provide valuable habitats for wildlife, improve the air we breathe, help to conserve energy and much more.
We have strong legislation that protects trees and woods in conservation areas, and gives Conwy's planning authority wide powers to make tree preservation orders (TPOs). This protection is similar in many ways to the listed buildings system and helps preserve our most valued trees. You may ask Conwy's Planning Authority to consider making a TPO for trees that you feel should be protected.

To check whether a tree is protected and to make an application to carry out pruning or felling work to a protected tree, you should contact Conwy Planning department (Regulatory Services) on 01492 575105 or 574000 and ask for Tree Preservation Officer in Regulatory Services.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Leaders Debate on!!

At last Gordon Brown has agreed to take part in this style of debate, it's worth noting that Nick Clegg and David Cameron agreed some time ago. Wonder what has persuaded Gordon to participate??

Canvassing Deganwy

I was out in Deganwy again in the week and very worthwhile it was, again some interesting comments regarding local and national issues. What is very clear to me at this very early stage is that Labour are going to suffer a major defeat in Aberconwy. Plaid Cymru again being criticised for jumping into bed with Labour in the Assembly and their inability to influence in Westminster.
I was also interested in the views of Adam Price, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthon East and Dinefwr regarding Westminster. He is standing down at the next election and is quoted in the South Wales Guardian " If I had my way I'd shut it down tomorrow and turn it into a museum of British democracy because that's what it is". I listen to all these MP's that are standing down and can't help thinking obviously your heart is not in the job so why on earth do you not go now, Betty Williams included.
Sorry, back to Deganwy, we identified a few Tories which we expected but what was encouraging was the support that we received. The information we are gathering is that Labour are finished, Plaid should try to stick to the Assembly, so it's a choice between Guto Bebb or Myself.
My team is building up and I would like to thank all those offering help and support. We have deliverers in most parts of Aberconwy now and a team of about 20 to support them as and when. What is more important is that I am enjoying meeting so many people across the constituency and listening to their views, after all if you don't do this how on earth can you say you know your "Patch".

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Solvent Abuse

I've had a number of comments made to me regarding the article in last weeks press and generally positive feedback regarding concerns over solvent and alcohol abuse. Clive Wolfendale, Chief Exec of CAIS drug and alcohol agency has also commented on the problem in this weeks North Wales Weekly News, regarding the effects of solvent abuse and said that he had encountered "kids" who were " Completely out of it", Vomiting heavily, disorientated, doubled up in pain with headaches and stomach cramps. He also states the effects are akin to extreme drunkenness, but can be far more serious. I believe that this issue had to be raised and now being discussed locally, can only be a positive way forward in dealing with this issue.

I am also hoping to meet up with the Charity Re-Solv, who are visiting north Wales soon to discuss the problem further with the Police and hopefully our Education dept here in Conwy, I have promised this charity to assist them anyway I can.

I will keep you updated.