Author: nld01

Julie Morgan for Deputy Leader #JM4DL #SaveWILG

Yesterday I was at Rhyl Town Hall for the Welsh Labour Deputy Leader Hustings between Carolyn Harris and Julie Morgan. I attended the meeting with an open mind but emerged as a staunch supporter of Julie Morgan.

Both candidates were asked a set of six questions that had been submitted before the hustings, including mine which asked where the candidates stood on the future of the Welsh Independent Living Grant. Harris was the first to  answer this and I was almost deafened by the sound of jaws hitting the floor when she claimed that we should trust the Local Authorities to sort the issue out. She received a frosty reception after this answer and all I could hear was a bundle of tumbleweed lightly skimming the surface of the stage.

Julie answered the same question by announcing that she would press for an inquiry into the matter and that the Welsh Assembly needs to recognise that it does not always make the right decisions. Queue rapturous applause.

Everyone at the SaveWILG campaign is rooting for Julie to become the next Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour as she is true socialist and really cares about disabled people and the future of independent living.


I have included a link below to an interview with Julie Morgan that appeared on the Skwawkbox blog. It is a wonderful read.

The Labour Party in Wales is in the middle of a historic campaign to elect its first ever deputy leader. Both of the candidates are women, both from the broad left of the party – and both have served as MPs.

But only one supports the Welsh party switching to OMOV – one member, one vote – to empower Labour members in the election of their leadership, instead of the ‘electoral college’ system pushed through by the Welsh Executive in what many consider to be an attempt to protect the ‘centrist’-dominated power structure, which gives a handful of MPs and Assembly Members the same voting power as all Welsh Labour members.

To read this Skwawkbox interview with Julie in full, please click here 


Memory Match – 30-09-31

Throughout the 2017/18 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months.

This is the third successive season that I have been writing the Memory Match column. Indeed, when I have written a Memory Match for every Football League season that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.



Chester v Wrexham

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Sealand Road

Result: 2-5

Chester: Burke, Herod, Jones, Lambie, Skitt, Reilly, Matthews, Thompson, Jennings, Cresswell, Hedley

Goalscorers: Jennings, Thompson

Wrexham: Burrows, Jones, Brown, Clayton, Burkinshaw, Donoghue, Rogers, Ferguson, Bamford, Taylor, Lewis

Goalscorers: Lewis, Bamford (4)

Attendance: 13,656

Under the tutorship of Jack Baynes, season 1931/32 began with a 3-0 defeat against Crewe Alexandra, at Gresty Road. This was an interesting season in many respects –  most notably our first Football League encounter with our cross-border rivals Chester. The first contest between the clubs at this level took place at the Racecourse Ground on 2nd September 1931, when 18,750 spectators watched a 1-1 draw.

Later that month, Sealand Road hosted its first League derby match which saw the Blues – Wrexham were actually kitted out in blue shirts with a thick white bar running horizontally – well supported by a large number of fans, who made the journey by road and rail. Our travelling army were certainly rewarded for their efforts.

After a cagey opening half hour, Chester went to pieces and the visitors took full advantage. Tommy Lewis received a pass from Sam Taylor to drive the ball home for the opening goal. Before the break, Tommy Bamford struck a brace and a convincing away win was on the cards.

Wrexham picked up where they left off in the second half. Following a miss-kick by Alec Lambie it seemed that we would be profiting from an own-goal before Bamford managed to connect with the ball and claim his hat-trick.

Chester replied through Andy Thompson, but as the Wrexham Guardian reminds us, “play was mostly in the City’s half, and the Wrexhamites were superior in every department”. Much like today…

Wrexham’s fifth goal was also scored by Bamford, after a goalmouth scramble in which shots by Taylor and Chris Ferguson were somehow kept out. In the last few minutes Chester reduced the deficit, when Tommy Jennings steered the ball past Wrexham custodian Wilf Burrows following a drive by Billie Reilly.

This result saw Wrexham move up to fourth in the table and a real promotion push was on the cards. We won our next match against Tranmere Rovers at the Racecourse (2-1) before real disaster struck. Manager Jack Baynes was forced to relinquish control to captain Ralph Burkinshaw in order to start his personal battle against cancer.

He was admitted to Chester Royal Infirmary for an ‘operative treatment’ in early October. After many anxious weeks he seemed to be making steady progress, and he was able to return home. However, three weeks later he suffered a relapse and was moved to Croesnewydd Hospital in Wrexham where he passed away on December 14th 1931, aged just 43. The former Welsh international and Wrexham player, Reverend Hywel Davies led the service at Jack Baynes’s funeral. This was a sad chapter in our history.


Under caretaker player/manager Burkinshaw, the Blues began strongly and reached the heights of second position. However, following the sad passing of Baynes our form dipped alarmingly as the players obviously had their minds off-field matters. We lost three of the first four games, following his demise and the managerial reigns were given to Ernie Blackburn in late January 1932 – much to the disappointment of Burkinshaw. Under the guidance of Blackburn, we finished in 10th position.


We failed to make a mark in the FA Cup this season, as we were knocked out at the first round stage by Gateshead, 3-2 at Redheugh Park. We did do rather better in the Welsh Cup. After beating Holywell (3-0), Shrewsbury Town (4-2) and Rhyl (3-1, in a replay played at a neutral venue) we finished runners up to Swansea Town, who beat us 3-1 over two legs.


On October 24th we did play Wigan Borough at the Cae Ras.  We thrashed them 5-0 with goals from Taylor (2), Lewis (2) and that man Bamford. However, this game was later made void just two days later after Wigan Borough went out of business on 26 October 1931 . Was it something we said?

Response to Minister for Children and Social Care from Sheila Meadows OBE #SaveWILG

I have shared a letter below written by my friend and comrade Sheila Meadows OBE who started the fight to support disabled people with high care and support needs long before I appeared on the scene. Together we have been fighting for disabled people’s rights for over five years now.

She is responding to the letter I received from Huw Irranca-Davies last week. This can be viewed in full here.

I will write my own response to this letter shortly, but I doubt that I will be able to add much more than Sheila has already said. The following letter encapsulates all that we have been trying to get across, but the folk at Welsh Labour seem to lack the humanity and humility to listen and admit that they will need to revise their plans to close WILG before it is too late…


Dear Mr Irranca-Davies

Thank you for your letter to Nathan Lee Davies. I will respond on a few points which I hope will contribute to the discussion and I ask you to respond to the final point so important in our discussions, but not addressed in your reply.  I refer to the triangulation we spoke at length about – the need for a third independent person or group with power who can mediate between the Local Authorities and recipients should this prove necessary.

You Wrote: …”separate public consultations held in 2014 – one for recipients and the third sector, and another for local authorities on the principle of four potential options for future support arrangements for former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). I would like to assure you this was not the case. Only one consultation was held with all the responses considered together.”

What we raised was that the analysis of the responses from recipient, third party organisations, etc. and LG were considered separately. Social Services responses indicated their desire to run the future ILF. This was supported by Welsh Government.

You Wrote: …”As Sheila may recollect as a member of the stakeholder group who advised Welsh Government, when the detail of how a resulting shortlist of options could be implemented that option was indeed considered further.”

Yes it was discussed further and the views of the SS representatives and LA were supported over the voice of the recipient.  I used to travel back form Cardiff feeling that I and the voluntary organisations had been able to convince the civil servants and others understand the problems we would face if the funding and decisions were left to our Local Authorities alone. The SSWB act, all assured me, would protect WILG recipients to live independently.   I was not then and have still to be convinced.

You Wrote: …”In addition many were concerned that the increased numbers of disabled people in Wales, who local authorities could claim funding for from the scheme, would result in the threshold to access this system having to be set at a very high level in order to make the scheme affordable.”

It is interesting that you highlight this particular issue as this was about the only issue we all agreed on, but not in the form you recall it.  As social services in the local area must fund or ensure the support of all disabled people who qualify for services, then it was seen by the whole group as fairer across Wales to have a higher threshold set. All agreed that the threshold was too low and would need to be raised considerably, but all felt this would be fair. 

  • When someone required a very large package of care the LA  could turn to a central source for financial support
  • It would also prevent local authorities ‘upping’ the cost of care provision to qualify for the enhanced payment which we know was done to attract ILF when central government ran it.
  • It was also seen as making it an ’All Wales standard’ of eligibility for enhanced care packages for those with the greatest disabilities.
  •  It would also have brought in one of the most important elements, someone/group, who would sit outside Local Government to monitor and mediate and ensure fairness across all authorities. 

Which brings me to my final comment; Nathan and I tried very hard to explain the importance of the ILF social worker in assessments and provision. They would hold LA to account if they were not fulfilling their agreed part in the contract and would also be equally determined that what the recipient or appointee had agreed was also being carried through.  Now if LA decide on a plan for you or in my case my son and I don’t agree, who do I turn to?  If my son is likely to suffer physically or mentally because of a decision, then I can complain but to whom?  To the LA?  How can it be possible to complain to someone about themselves and expect a reasonable outcome? Both Nathan and I thought we had explained this issue very fully with Mathew Hall, Head of Policy Division, but this issue is totally ignored in your letter. Once again, I am faced with the same issues, we have meetings, think the Civil Servants have listened and heard, but find the issues which they don’t fully understand, or unable to find a solution are  totally ignored.  I can understand that you don’t agree with my view but I feel there is a need to respond to the most important issue brought to the meeting.  We called it the ‘Black Hole’

The need for an independent third person is vital. After your visit we did get the letter you sent to Wrexham in November, thank you, it arrived in the middle of February!  Without your direct intervention would this have happened?  I am sure you will not want all such issues to be brought directly to you but to what other support do we turn when the Local Social Services are struggling and unable to communicate with us or support us.  You are aware of our experiences, is it any wonder we cannot trust Local Authorities on the future of WILG recipients to be able to live independently with adequate support? 

With thanks

Sheila Meadows

PRESS RELEASE: First Minister quizzed over loss of independent living grant for disabled #SaveWILG


The case for disabled people wanting to maintain their independent living was raised in the Senedd today with questions to First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant is due to come to an end next year and responsibility for ensuring disabled people can live independently will be transferred to local councils.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, asked: “Disabled people have told me that they appreciate their independence more than the money provided by the current Welsh Independent Living Grant. What assurances can you give them that this independence will continue when the WILG comes to an end?”

Mr Jones responded by saying that his government would monitor the actions of local government and individuals would be assessed to provide assurances.

Mr Gruffydd said he was disappointed that the First Minister did not appreciate the importance of disabled people having choice and control over their own lives, something that the WILG helped ensure: “I’m afraid I have little faith that the transition to councils that are already stretched to the limit in so many ways will work smoothly. The First Minister said time and again that his government would monitor the transition, but evidence from London shows that a similar transition has been disastrous and they should heed that evidence. In Scotland and Northern Ireland they’ve maintained the fund and the independence that it allows, which has been a success. I question why this Labour Govenrment is putting people in Wales through that uncertainty and pain when we have a model we could emulate in Scotland?” 

A determined campaign has been run to save the WILG by author and journalist Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham. He said: “I would like to thank Llyr Gruffydd AM for raising the issue of the Welsh Independent Living Grant at the Senedd. Without WILG my independence would be severely curtailed and I would be totally reliant on my penny-pinching local authority, which has already threatened a severe reduction of my care and support should the grant close. 

“It is important that disabled people are able to live their lives independently so that they can continue to contribute to their local communities.”

Letter from Huw Irranca-Davies AM #SaveWILG

I have received the following letter from Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Minister for Children and Social Care following our meeting last month.

I was disappointed with my performance at the meeting and now I am disappointed with the letter that the Minister has sent. It is the sort of letter we’d expect to get from a government minister; it appears detailed and thorough, but it seems to avoid the reality on the ground.

I also need to properly formulate my argument into five key points that I would like to ask the Minister to avoid him trailing off and talking about general issues. I will do this later this afternoon. I had hoped that by listening to me talk about the problems disabled people would be facing in dealing with local authorities only, that Huw Irranca-Davies would have responded with a more positive and original letter full of hope and pragmatic free thinking. Unfortunately, I received the following:

Dear Nathan

Thank you for meeting me to discuss the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and for sharing your experiences and concerns. It is important to me to see how the decisions we make as a government are translating into delivery for people on the ground. As we discussed, I am writing in response to some of the points which were raised, and to give you an update on further actions.

At our meeting you explained that you thought there had been separate public consultations held in 2014 – one for recipients and the third sector, and another for local authorities on the principle of four potential options for future support arrangements for former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). I would like to assure you this was not the case. Only one consultation was held with all the responses considered together.

You also raised the issue of accessibility of the consultation for recipients. To address this issue various versions of the consultation were produced including a Welsh language version, a braille version, easy-read and easy-to-read version. The latter versions were produced with assistance from the RNIB and Learning Disability Wales. I understand from my officials that a large number of the easy-read and easy-to-read versions were issued where recipients and their families felt these would aid their understanding of the consultation.

On the substantive issue of a scheme to succeed the ILF, you asked why the option of a Welsh Independent Living Scheme put forward by Stephen Harris of the Dewis Centre for Independent Living was not considered further, as you believed this option received most support from respondents. However, as the consultation summary indicates, the most supported option was in fact the potential for arrangements in Wales similar to that of the ILF. As Shiela may recollect as a member of the stakeholder group who advised Welsh Government, when the detail of how a resulting shortlist of options could be implemented that option was indeed considered further.

However, the Welsh Independent Living Scheme option did not make that shortlist for several reasons. While on the face of it the scheme would adhere to the principles behind the establishment of the ILF, many opposed it as the funding would not go to the individual but to their local authority to fund the cost of their care package. The only way under this option that recipients could continue to have control over the support payments they received would be through direct payments from their local authority. In addition many were concerned that the increased numbers of disabled people in Wales, who local authorities could claim funding for from the scheme, would result in the threshold to access this system having to be set at a very high level in order to make the scheme affordable. This was in light of the fixed, finite funding the UK Government transferred to the Welsh Government to fund the support of former recipients of the ILF. This could have had the potential to reduce the funding the scheme could provide to authorities in individual cases. In view of these concerns Ministers at the time concluded it was not suitable to pursue this option further.

It is important to emphasise that the decisions taken in consultation with the stakeholder group have at all times sought to ensure people with disabilities in Wales have the right to live independently at home and are supported to do so. As a government we have acted to underpin this in legislation through our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The Act is changing the way people are supported to give them more voice and control over the care and support they require to meet their own wellbeing outcomes. It is encouraging to see increasing evidence of this approach becoming standard practice across Wales to the benefit of those who rely on support, and with a positive effect on the future support packages which are being agreed for WILG recipients.

We also discussed the monitoring of the two year transition period, where I confirmed we collect periodic data from local authorities on their progress. As of November last year over 350 recipients in Wales, of the 1,300 recipients in total, were already in the process of agreeing their future support package with their authority, with over 30 having now decided to transfer to receiving their support through their support package. While this is positive, I agree we need to widen this monitoring to also collect qualitative data on the outcomes which WILG recipients are experiencing, and I am currently considering ways in which this could be done. In addition I am acutely aware if we are to support recipients to live independent lives, authorities need an appropriate amount of time to undertake reviews with them and for recipients to have time to agree their future support packages do this. As a result I am also considering whether there is a need to adjust the transition to allow authorities more time to complete these reviews given the numbers involved and the fact that a large number of recipients have complex care needs.

Finally, you raised several concerns about the approach of Wrexham County Borough Council to care assessments and to the transition process for recipients of the WILG to local authority support. In the light of your concerns my officials will seek direct assurances from the local authority over its implementation of the transition process and its reviews of recipients’ future support needs.

I will write to you again with a progress update on the transition to the new support payments, including any potential changes for the transition and the monitoring of the transition, and response to your concerns over local implementation. In the meantime I am copying this letter for information to both Ian Lucas MP and Sheila Meadows, and I thank you again for taking the time to meet me and discuss these important matters.

Huw Irranca-Davies AC/AM
Y Gweinidog Gofal Cymdeithasol a Phlant
Minister for Children and Social Care





War #SaveWILG

I don’t want to have to write the following, but it needs saying as Wrexham Council and the Welsh Government are failing in their duties of care to disabled residents such as myself. I am not continuing to struggle while local councillors vote to give themselves a pay rise and Government officials just will not listen to reason.

Yesterday, was an average day which began productively thanks to the help of my Personal Assistant. I visited the supermarket to replenish empty cupboards and powered through some housework and admin. Unfortunately, my PA is only contracted until 14:00 and I am alone all afternoon until a second PA returns at 19:00. This used to suit me fine as I had full use of my hands, but living with a progressive disability such as Friedrich’s Ataxia means that I am having to consider changes to my deteriorating body and the need for more support. Believe me, this is not something that I want to have to accept, but I just cant function on my own without the help of another human being. Extra care is something that I NEED.

Yesterday afternoon, I was drinking water while watching Final Score on television. After finishing a bottle I thought I had better go to powder my nose before the urge really hit me. I was being responsible. Unfortunately, once I got to the bathroom my dexterity failed me and I was unable to produce my crown jewels from my boxer shorts in time.

Fast forward five minutes and I was sitting in a freezing cold pair of sodden jeans with tears of frustration and exasperation running down my face. My only option was to call my 67- year old father who came to help. By the time he had helped me to sort everything out it was 18.00 and a relaxing afternoon, after a busy week, had disappeared.

The rest of the evening was spent in agony as my Dad had to remove my wheelchair  cushion cover to give it a good wash. This is a padded cushion cover so I was forced to sit on an uncomfortable surface for the rest of the evening. It was a relief to get into bed.

However, at 03.30 I woke again in discomfort. I have been going attending a Podiatry clinic at Wrexham Maelor hospital. Last week the Podiatrist discovered an ulcer on the side of my left foot by my little toe. She dressed it and it has been fine all week but last night it was really causing me a lot of pain and I could not move my foot into a more suitable position. I did not want to bother my dad again but in the end I had no option but to text him. He did not receive the text until a lot later after I had been in agony for 2 hours.

If I was able to have the 24 hour care that disabled people with high care and support needs deserve then I would not have had the humiliation of having to write this. With adequate support I would have had the assistance needed to avoid an accident and been able to move my foot into a more comfortable position.

It seems that Wrexham Council and the Welsh Government see me as something of a nuisance. They have clearly got their priorities all wrong as they are putting profit and greed before people. The bad news for them is that I am not planning on going anywhere soon and they have legal responsibilities that I will ensure they meet with me and other disabled people in the Wrexham area and beyond. Things have got to change and I will make sure that I will do what I can to force these changes in the time I have left before I am consumed by life with Ataxia.