Blue Badge

Wear them with Pride

Two new badges have arrived and will soon be available. Thanks must go to Keith Sinclair and his badge making contact, Rob.

The first badge is of the character I created with the help of an online Avatar creator during my dark years in Inverness. I like using this Avatar on all my work as it means I did something useful during these ‘lost’ years. They are perfect for my growing fanbase who want to show their support for my work ūüôā

The Wrexham DPAC badges will hopefully help to foster a sense of togetherness for disabled people based in Wrexham as we fight back against the exploitation shown towards to us by Wrexham Council. An example of this unfairness can be seen below.

Both badges will be available at forthcoming information days or directly from me at £1 each.

 

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I wrote the following paragraph in an email to a friend following an annoying trip to Wrexham Town Centre where they have just introduced car park charges for Blue Badge holders despite my protest, which can be read in previous blog posts.

Just had a frustrating drive around town where I could not find anywhere to park. These damn principles won’t let me pay the Council anything so it seems that I won’t be able to go to town until 2022 when I hope we can elect a decent bunch of Councillors. I was thinking of maybe printing loads of stickers to paste around town protesting these parking charges.Something needs to be done as all they have succeeded in doing is to cut me off from their hometown. I wanted to open a bank account at NatWest today but I am not paying to park my car.¬†¬†

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Thanks to Sylvia Prankard for the photograph. 

Press Release: Parking Charges Consultation

Below I have issued a Press Release regarding the consultation on proposed Blue Badge parking charges in Wrexham.  The deadline for this consultation is 29th March 2018.  To respond to the consultation please click here.

This really is our final chance to have our say.¬† It is very annoying because the consultation results will probably not change anything but it is important that we go on record in opposing the introduction of parking charges that won’t even produce a profit for at least two years.

Even when such charges are introduced, the fight will be far from over.¬† Wrexham council have not heard the last of this…

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Local disability rights activist Nathan Lee Davies has slammed Wrexham Council’s handling of the consultation on the introduction of Parking Charges for Blue Badge holders.

The decision of Wrexham Council to introduce car parking charges has been criticised by disability rights activists and opposition councillors.

Nathan Lee Davies stated:

I wish this consultation was not taking place but it is.

It is therefore essential that the consultation procedure is fair and the relevant documents can be accessed by all members of the community, especially those directly affected.

Half way through the consultation, there is still no link of the Council’s website to the actual documents outlining the proposed changes. The website says nothing about how local residents can see the paperwork.

· Wrexham Council has refused to send paper or electronic copies to the documents to local residents who have asked for them.

· Wrexham Council have clearly no understanding of the needs of disabled people in Wrexham who wish to access the documents.

· Wrexham Council should halt this consultation and rerun it with full access for all to the documents.

Further information is available from Nathan Lee Davies: nathandavies01@hotmail.com

 

Labour Group’s Alternative Budget 2018-19

Please find attached a copy of the WCBC opposition Labour Group’s Alternative 2018/2019 budget, which includes:

An extra ¬£500,000 for Wrexham’s secondary schools
Scrapping planned parking charges for disabled people
Scrapping plans to charge for parking at our country parks
Creating a new supported public travel fund
Reducing the number of senior councillors 

Much needed additional funding to the schools music budget.

This Alternative Budget Report was distributed by WCBC to all Elected Members earlier this afternoon.  The Monitoring Officer has confirmed it can be released into the public domain.  I have just issued to the press.

Members of the public who are supportive should be encouraged to contact ALL WCBC Councillors listed below, sharing their views as to why Councillors should vote in favour of the Alternative Budget at next Wednesday’s Council meeting, 21st February 2018.¬† The original budget being proposed by this Administration of Tories and Independents can be found at¬†http://moderngov.wrexham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=128&MId=3723&Ver=4

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This is the first Alternative Budget to be presented to the new council following the local government elections in May 2017.  We believe it is prudent to briefly explain its purpose for the benefit of our newly elected councillors.

The Alternative Budget is an amendment, in part, to the original budget being presented by this council’s administration of Independent and Conservative members.  Our budget highlights areas where the Labour Group believe alternative spending and income generation can achieve better outcomes for the people of Wrexham county borough.

We are seeking council’s agreement in support of this Alternative Budget.

WCBC Labour Group

Our proposals

Minimum Revenue Provision Saving

Members were informed at council in December 2017 of an unavoidable commitment within the 2018/19 budget due to an unforeseeable overspend in the children’s social care department, pertaining to looked-after children.¬† The current budget proposal offsets the ¬£820,000 budget pressure against the part-saving realised as a result of council approval to revise its Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) policy, which has produced an overall saving of ¬£1.72m.¬† The remaining balance is to be used to address the overspend within the PFI Waste Contract.

The Alternative Budget proposes to match the ¬£820,000 overspend from the council’s reserves.¬† The purpose of the Unallocated General Reserve Fund is to provide for any unexpected expenditure that cannot be managed within existing budgets.¬† Such expenditure would be one-off and resulting from an extraordinary event.¬† Given the overspend in children’s social care (of ¬£820,000) was reported at council on December 13, 2017, as an event that meets this criteria, the Alternative Budget proposal supports the children’s social care pressure for 2017/18 being met by a contribution of ¬£820,000 from the general reserves.

Reduction to Executive Board Membership/Saving

It is proposed to reduce the Executive Board membership from ten members to eight and redistribute the lead member roles and responsibilities accordingly.  The current Executive Board members have been in place for nine months with some lead members yet to present a single report to the board.

The Labour Group believes an Executive Board of eight members will be more effective ‚Äď and at a smaller cost to the taxpayer.

Music Service Uplift

Prior to this year’s budget process, the original music service budget stood at £345,000, with a proposal from this administration to cut £300,000 (87%) from that effective from September 2018.  At last month’s Executive Board, the lead member for education confirmed the actual cut now being proposed is £250,000, leaving music services with a total budget of £95,000 whilst a new delivery model is being sought.

Currently, there are 165 free school meal pupils affected by this service cut.  It is very likely that these pupils will not be able to participate in this weekly programme of tuition if costs are passed from the local authority to parents.  The Labour Group has identified a shortfall in the £95,000 budget of £65,875 to meet the current demand.  We are proposing a further budget uplift of £70,447 to meet current and future demand.

Secondary School Budgets Increase

Wrexham has nine secondary schools and one special school.  Of these ten schools, six have approved licensed deficits averaging -6.87% of their 2017/18 budgets.  Two schools have a surplus of well below 1%.  Over the past two years we have seen more and more central cost moving to individual school budgets.  Schools are currently responsible for a number of on-costs including teacher redundancies and the administration now propose that all schools become responsible for their own salary inflation costs.

Following the scrutiny committee’s December 2017 budget recommendation and a 0.38% increase to last year’s funding from Welsh Government, this administration proposes a net increase of £1.178m to schools.  Whilst this is welcomed, the share of the pot between our 68 schools within the borough is minimal and does not address the need to stabilise school budgets within our secondary sector.  The Labour Group proposes to provide our secondary and special schools with an additional £0.5m to support their improvement.

Supported Public Transport Fund

Wrexham is facing a bus service crisis.  We have recently seen the collapse of another local bus company, with a second withdrawing from public routes.  This has resulted in a reduced public service, with some areas losing their bus route altogether. The Labour Group proposal is to employ a Sustainable Transport and Development Officer (L10 pay grade) on a fixed two-year term to develop a sustainable plan of action for Wrexham.  With on-costs included, this post will total a maximum of £44,353 and a further £50,000 budget is being made available to support applications to Welsh Government to access their £25m Bus Services Support Grant.  It is hoped this additional funding will also be utilised to work with neighbouring local authorities, the bus industry and passenger groups to grow our bus network.  There is scope within the additional budget to investigate the viability of a municipal bus company, owned by WCBC or in collaboration with other local authorities.  The Labour Group recognises the important contribution our local bus services make in maintaining independent living, social cohesion and general wellbeing.

Children’s Social Care Funding Model

Many local authorities buy in residential care placements within children’s social care and are very much apprehensive about providing this service in-house as a consequence of cases such as Bryn Estyn.  At council in December, a significant overspend in the looked-after children’s budget was highlighted.  It was explained that Wrexham is experiencing an unprecedented increase in placements for our looked-after children, however the overspend was as a result of a handful of expensive placements causing a spike in projected costs.

The Labour Group believes there is an opportunity to better predict future demand and contain costs and prices.  A large majority of our placement activity currently takes the form of spot placements at time of need.  These are costly, resource intensive and an inefficient approach within an unstable market place with insufficient places.  A move to a block model would ensure the council gets more stable placements at a lower price.  Children are placed

into a more sustainable and stable environment where the corporate parents, the local authority and provider work within a procurement and parenting model to deliver the right care at the right time at the right price.  A February 2018 Municipal Journal article quoted the alternative block guarantee model as a saving of 7% against our current spot price, with more positive outcomes for our looked-after children.  Good data and trend information is pivotal to the success of this model and the proposed budget of £65,000 allows for the buying-in of key data and resource.

Reduction in cut to Country Park Rangers

The council is proposing a cut of £100,000.  The Difficult Decisions consultation programme saw strong opposition which the ruling administration has chosen to ignore.  The Labour Group hoped to scrap this proposed cut completely by proposing a salary reduction for senior councillors (from deputy mayor through to council leader).  However, due to the changes coming from the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales, we are not yet in a position to bring this forward.  Leaving this item in our Alternative Budget proposal would have meant our proposals would not have met the requirements of setting a legal and balanced budget.  The Labour Group’s proposal is to fund £50,000.

Withdraw Charging for Disabled Parking and Country Parks

The Labour Group disagrees with the administration’s proposal to charge for disabled parking and the Alternative Budget withdraws this charge in its entirety.  We are disappointed that no consultation has been undertaken directly with those who will be affected.  There is a general belief that this income will not be realised as there are free alternatives to parking for our disabled citizens.  The current proposal by the administration will place additional pressures on an environment budget that continually overspends. Additionally, the Labour Group opposes the current administration’s proposal to charge for parking at our country parks and our Alternative Budget would again withdraw this charge in its entirety.

Risks

As with any budget, there are financial risks to consider and there is a need to measure these risks within the proposed Alternative Budget.

The spending proposals outlined within the summary are of low risk.  The outcomes can be easily realised with political will and the commitment of lead members and officers.  There are also opportunities to work collaboratively with other local authorities and partners, which will further reduce risk.

The medium risk within this proposed Alternative Budget is the removal of £820,000 from our General Reserve Fund.  Reserves can only be used once. However, the Labour Group believes that the risk to our reserves is considerably reduced as we are addressing the current and escalating pressures facing the council within our Alternative Budget proposal.

The greater risk is by not addressing those pressures, which could lead to the council writing a blank cheque as costs increase within outsourced services or cutting more services to meet demand pressures elsewhere.

Summary

Minimum Revenue Provision Saving                  (£820,000)

Reduction of Executive Board Membership       (£31,800)

Total:                                                                           (£851,800)

Proposed Uses:

Music Service Uplift                                                 £70,447
Secondary School Budgets Increase                     £500,000
Supported Public Transport Resource/Fund      £94,353
Children’s Social Care Funding Model                 £65,000
Reduction in cut to Country Park Rangers          £50,000
Withdraw Charging for Disabled Parking          £25,000
Withdraw Country Park Parking Charges          £47,000

Budget Gap:                                                                £ 0

Conclusion

The Labour Group’s Alternative Budget provides the council with opportunities to develop a public transport system that works and meets the needs of our citizens, addresses the rising costs of child placements and goes some distance to stabilising current pressures experienced by our secondary schools.

The Alternative Budget allows our most vulnerable pupils the right to participate in music tuition. We have also removed proposed charges for disabled parking and parking in our country parks and support only a 50% reduction to the administration’s planned cut our Country Park Rangers.

Public Debate Challenge

It seems that an attempt to get the Executive Board to reconsider how they carry out a consultation into charging for disabled parking and at Wrexham’s country parks failed after a lengthy two and a half hour debate. Further details about this can be found here.

It is difficult to know how to reason with these people as it is difficult to understand their rationale. This is why I would like to invite my local councillor David Bithell, or indeed any member of the local authority, to a public debate on this deeply concerning issue.

I am sure that the local media would support this event and it would give everyone the chance to have their say. I certainly am not scared of debating the issues as I feel very passionately about safeguarding free disabled parking for future generations. I do not want to live in a heartless community that regards all citizens as cash cows that can be milked to achieve the selfish goals of the few.

I do not expect to receive a response to this request, but there are many ways that I can be contacted and I want to make it clear that I am not the one running scared…

Letter from Lesley Griffiths AM Concerning Blue Badge Proposals

I received the following letter from Lesley Griffiths AM regarding Wrexham Council’s appalling decision to push ahead with the proposed Blue Badge parking charges. I share this letter to highlight the positive support that is being offered to me by my Welsh Labour AM and a small group of Local Councillors in the face of heartless, overgrown bullies who cannot see the absurdity of their actions.

I am hopeful that I will soon receive word from Lesley about whether or not she can help us move the #SaveWILG exhibition to the Senedd. If she is not in a position to help us do this due to party pressures then I must accept this – however¬†much I disagree – and I will try to contact¬†other AM’s for their support.

Anyway, here is the letter, followed by an article by Wrexham.com which is referred to by Lesley.

Dear Nathan 

Further to my letter of 6 February 2018, I enclose a copy of a detailed article published by Wrexham.com on 8 February 2018, which details events at the call-in meeting regarding Wrexham Council’s proposals to introduce charges for Blue Badge holders.

As you are aware, I am totally opposed to the proposals and have made my views known to the Leader of Wrexham Council. 

Despite the call-in notice from Welsh Labour Councillors, which attempted to get Wrexham Council’s Executive Board to reconsider their proposals, the motion was defeated.

The final page of the Wrexham.com article highlights how individual Councillors voted and I was disappointed to see that your local Councillor, I David Bithell, voted with the ruling body to reject the report going back to the Executive Board.

This ill-advised policy has been solely devised and pursued by the Tory/Independent administration which runs Wrexham Council.  Many constituents contacted me about the proposals so it is frustrating that Councillors who had the ideal chance to challenge the Executive Board’s decision, chose to spurn the opportunity.  

I believe it would be worth your while contacting your local Councillor to ascertain why he voted this way and I will continue to make my views on the matter clear to the Council Leader.

I hope this information is useful and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Lesley Griffiths, AM                                                                          

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Full Council on track to decide country parks & disabled parking charges as consultation goes ahead

Published by Wrexham.com: Thursday, Feb 8th, 2018

An attempt to get the Executive Board to reconsider how they carry out a consultation into charging for disabled parking and at Wrexham’s country parks failed after a lengthy two and a half hour debate.

The call-in meeting was explained to members of the employment, business and investment scrutiny committee as being more of a ‘technical meeting; rather than

scrutiny of decisions itself – with the call in reasons before the meeting being the topic of debate. However that point was lost on some of the councillors taking part.

The call-in notice from Welsh Labour councillors claimed the Council’s Executive had failed in numerous ways, including informing councillors of the financial implications, any risks to the Environment Budget, and if mitigation plans were in place for any

unintended displacement affects for various parking charge changes.

The call-in notice explained that due to this they felt the decision to start a necessary statutory legal consultation was ‘premature’, and in essence there should be a new decision – effectively to start a consultation with all the allegedly missing information in place before going out to get the views of the public or specific groups.

That was the ‘calling in’ of the decision, so the committee would decide if they thought that was the case, and if so refer the decision back to the Executive Board to reconsider the decision, or not. If referred back Executive Board could either stick or alter their

original decision, which would then be immune to further call-in.

The decision would mean a consultation would take place either way, and the decision on introduction on charges would still be subject to approval by councillors at a Full Council meeting scheduled for 21 February 2018.

With that backdrop some councillors took the opportunity to re-run the debate on if charging for disabled parking, or if charging for parking in country parks is a good thing or not, rather than focusing on the five points up for debate on the call in.

The responsible Lead Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr David A Bithell was on hand to answer questions, along with the relevant council officer plus various other council staff. Cllr Bithell appeared to have a pre-prepared set of statements to answer each of the five points in turn, but was happy to add further detail when requested.

Cllr Derek Wright presented each formal question on the call-in notice, with several appended queries to each where possible. Members of the committee also posed questions, which ranged from anecdotal evidence to specific financial queries.

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Cllr Marc Jones and Cllr Dana Davies queried on the basis the financial implications had not been made clear to Councillors, with questions on if figures presented were net or

gross numbers.

News that parking machine and other costs are pencilled in as a E50k capital spend did appear to be new information to those on the cnommittee, which was then probed

further by Cllr Marc Jones who asked if extra staff would be needed to empty machines or monitor the site – but was told no.

After a short grilling Cllr Marc Jones indicated he was still unhappy, stating: “All these figures are based on predictions of people using these services, what if they do not use them and they park on side streets?

“The E50k capital cost will not be recovered.”

Cllr Bithell noted that the debate was veering to the third point on the call-in notice, regarding mitigation on people using street parking instead of car parking.

Cllr Davies did some rough maths to point out she did not believe the figures presented added up, and invited clarity to where the E25k revenue sum came from – stating either she made El 9k based on the figures and method infront of her.

Cllr Bithell disputed her numbers, pointing out that Cllr Davies was basing her figures off a El charge when some figures were off a El .80 charge – a ‘confusion’ attributed to

the difference in country park rates being in the same debate as disabled bay charging.

Cllr Davies said the figures had come from a previous meeting, however this was disputed again, with the formulae and forecasts being described as a ‘fluid process’ and based off ‘conservative estimates’.

After details on numbers of spaces and various calculations Cllr Davies said: “l am still not getting where the E25k is substantiated from, the figures do not add up, I am not

sure where we have plucked the E25k from.”

Cllr Paul Jones interjected to call the E50k capital cost as ‘brand new information’, saying “Someone should have done a cost benefit analysis and shared it. This is what this call-in is all about.”

Head of Environment and Planning Lawrence Isted spoke to reassure the committee: “Whenever we are working out things like this we use our best judgement and best estimates. We do not over egg things.

“The capital costs are not new, or a new situation.”

Mr Isted added that the proposals were based on ‘previous work with our reshaping partners PWC’.

Cllr Paul Jones bluntly asked: “So why are we hearing about these costs now?’

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Cllr Bithell replied to point out there had been five budget workshops, five extra scrutiny meetings before Christmas and that on the relevant scrutiny meeting before Christmas

‘there were not many questions on this.’

He added: “A lot of these costs are fluid until we come to a decision. It has been worked up with the help of Officers, and the Executive Board agrees the Budget.

“l did highlight at the Executive Board meeting there would be costs. There is not much rocket science behind this, it is standard procedure.”

Cllr Paul Jones was not swayed, accusing Cllr Bithell of ‘playing up the savings that are the good news, but underplaying the capital costs’.

Cllr Wright said he was ‘shocked’ by the f50k capital cost, saying it had been ‘magiced out of the air’.

He then asked about if savings were a single saving, or year on year ‘as there was nothing in the second column’. A question that had been asked many times in the set of

scrutiny meetings before Christmas, as the documents before them had a Year 1 saving and a Year 2 saving.

As explained several times previously, and again at the meeting, the Year 1 saving was ongoing thereafter and any Year 2 saving would be new and on top – and ongoing as

well.

Questions over risks were batted back by Cllr Bithell who gave a quick bleak overview over the budget of the Environment Department, ending with “if we do not generate income in one way or another we will have to cut services.”

Cllr Davies gave the analogy of putting a risk, if the proposals were unsuccessful and were a cost rather than a revenue raiser, on top of existing problems in the department, saying ‘It could make the situation worse not better, the risk is escalating, it is risk on another risk’.

The finance officer also pointed out that in a previous report before councillors an appendix had risks detailed.

Other questions in the call-in notice were dealt with in a similar manner, with it noted that the claim there was no mitigation for people being displaced to on street parking.

The council officer pointed out it was acknowledged in documents presented to councillors previously, pointing out that the majority of the town centre’s roads were subject to some kind of parking regulations already.

Cllr Marc Jones was particularly unhappy, stating: “It is human nature, people are price sensitive to parking. People will spend El 00 in a shop but will not pay El .80 to park.

“People will circle streets to look for a space than pay to park. We know what a problem parking in the town centre is, and as a result of this we will see people use side streets.”

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“I was not on the council two years ago, and I am concerned we are looking at PWC modelling from two years ago, it is old information.”

Cllr AlunJenkins made a very long speech giving a grim appraisal of the current austerity situation in the UK, and how he disagreed with the proposals being made, but did recognise the decisions before the council saying it was like ‘having both arms cut off but which one first’, adding he would prefer not to have either chopped off.

Cllr Jenkins was keen to get assurances that nothing would be progressed without consultation, which Cllr Bithell was happy to offer, as that was on the table either way.

Cllr Bithell pointed out to the meeting that the proposals were ‘not about deterring people from coming to the town centre, it is about making spaces accessible.’

Cllr Davies queried the consultation process, noting that it had been described several times as ‘implementing a traffic order’, “My understanding is we have to identify who we want to consult with, if we have a group with protected characteristics we should be consulting with them specifically.”

“It has been mentioned we would encourage them to take part on our website or in newspapers, but the public have to engage and to do that they have to understand the process and context. They need to know the information to make it a meaningful

consultation. We are going through the motions with a traffic order.”

Cllr Bithell pointed out an impact equality statement had been ‘done’, describing it as a ‘fluid document’, and offered assurance that the statutory process would be followed.

The debate then turned to the principle of charging for disabled parking, with Cllr Bithell saying “It is about having accessible spaces” noting that Blue Badges were not means tested.

Cllr Paul Jones angrily pointed out a range of cases Blue Badges could be used for, stating very young children who were terminally ill, fixed income adults, veterans who

were on fixed incomes, ending by stating the proposals were regressive “If they can’t afford to pay it, they do not have access”.

Cllr Tina Mannering gave a personal account of why she held her view, saying: “It is more about access and space not the money.

“Not all haven’t got money or funds, some are very well off, more than those working. It is about access than the cost of car parking.”

Cllr Paul Jones cited data that says there are 9,000 Blue Badge holders in Wrexham, saying that Cllr Mannering was talking about one or two’.

Cllr Mannering said it was “Offensive to assume they do not have money, they are as

equal as everyone else. It is not the money it is the access.”

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Cllr Paul Jones said, “Some can afford it. Some can’t afford it. We do not know if 8,000 or how many can’t afford it.”

Cllr Mannering retorted, “If we do not consult we will not know.”

Cllr Paul Jones again reiterated why the call-in was made, to request a more detailed consultation: “I would expect Officers to know that before a decision was made, not to implement and hope for the best, not trade anecdotal stories, we should be working on hard evidence.”

The debate moved on to specific points, including asking if council enforcement was a seven day operation (it is) and it noted that if proposals proceed then Blue Badge

parking on double yellow lines in Ty Mawr could increase. The meeting was told the

yellow lines were brought in as a response to improve child safety at the park, and thus the proposals were seen by some as increasing risk on that front.

The meeting headed past the two hour mark and just before 6pm Cllr Bithell left, leaving Cllr Marc Jones and Mr Isted to have an interesting exchange over revenue raising and cuts proposals recently.

Cllr Marc Jones said he had ‘sympathy’ with officers on the proposals: ‘We are told we have to do these or do worse, and we are told to come up with alternatives. We are told ‘if you do not support this you have to find something else’. Really, we pay council officers to give us options. What are the other options?”

Cllr Marc Jones contrasted the health aims of Wrexham Council to the policy of charging for parking at country parks, and also pointed out it was not equal if councillors were able to park in the town centre cheaper than disabled people, adding: “How the hell is that equality?”

Mr Isted replied pointing out the goal of the lead member was likely to ensure no loss of services or core services and thus the proposals: ‘We used to call them efficiencies, then efficiency savings, and now we have to accept they are cuts.

“We went through a long list years back of ‘green’ things, like we used to do twinning, that went. Then we did the ‘amber’ things, and now we are in the ‘red’ area.”

Hinting at the ‘alternative options’, a grim pointer towards cutting of ‘core functions’ was made which the meeting was told would be made up of ‘largely reducing staff in core

activities’, with the ‘worse case scenarios affecting the core functions of the council’.

Mr Isted concluded that the committee would not be wishing to do that, and thus the suggestions and proposals put forward

Clr Jenkins cites Northamptonshire Council that recently started emergency spending controls – says Wales is 3-4 years.behind England, says ‘watch this space’ for Wrexham, “If austerity continues there is no point having councils”.

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With the doom and gloom and two and a half hours of debate appearing to sap the will of the committee to keep going, despite the frustration of Cllr Wright who pointed out he had ‘many more questions to ask’ proceedings headed towards a vote.

The choice before councillors was clear to some, despite the attempts to form a specific recommendation.

Finally it was basically agreed for a simple success v failure vote on the 2nd 3rd and 5th points of the call-in notice contents, and if the ‘case’ had been successful.

The motion was proposed by Cllr Davies and seconded by Cllr Marc Jones, with Cllr

Mannering attempting a counter motion. The vote was about to proceed before Cllr Atkinson spoke to explain his view on the various points, explaining that he felt officers were aware of risks and the financial issues raised had been ‘clearly explained’.

A point of order was called by Cllr Wright to point out the debate had ended and a vote was due and the Chairman Rodney Skelland should not allow further debate.

After two and a half hours the vote saw the proposal to refer the decision back to the Executive Board fall, with the councillors for and against neatly falling into party and administration alliance lines.

The Plaid Cymru (Cllr Marc Jones), Liberal Democrat (Cllr Alun Jenkins) and Labour (Cllr Paul Jones, Cllr Adrienne Jeorett and Cllr Dana Davies) members present voted to refer the decision back to the Executive Board.

Members of the Conservative group (Cllr Andrew Atkinson) and two Independent groups (Cllr Trevor Bates, Cllr Geoff Lowe, Cllr I David Bithell, Cllr Nigel Williams, Cllr Sonia Benbow-Jones and Cllr Tina Mannering) voting to reject the report going back to the Executive Board.

We don’t think the Chairman Cllr Rodney Skelland (Conservative) voted as per convention – however due to the layout of the room it was unclear due to the architecture, and we have no video or pictures to show you as the Councillors do not allow filming or the taking of pictures of raised hands.

A final decision is set to be made at Full Council on Wednesday 21st February. The meeting is open to the public

 

In the Shade

I was recently contacted by a journalist for the Sun newspaper who wanted to speak to me about my Blue Badge campaign after reading the following blog by Vox Political.  I was delighted that my story was taken up by Mike Sivier at one of the leading political blogs, but I was most surprised and conflicted by the subsequent interest of a dubious tabloid title.

After much thought of the pros and cons of associating myself with a Murdoch publication, I wrote the following email to the journalist involved:

Hi,

This is a rather difficult email to write. I do no doubt your journalistic credentials and your ability as a writer for the biggest tabloid in Britain. I would like to thank you for your interest in telling my story and wishing to highlight the issue of disabled parking in council car parks across Britain. The opportunity to have my say in a national newspaper would usually be welcomed, but I possess these annoying things called principles that prevent me from speaking to this particular title.

I do not feel that the newspaper in question is very sympathetic to the struggles of disabled people and your readership most certainly is not. It would therefore seem most unusual for you to support my anti-austerity campaign against a Conservative/Independent council.

Living in North Wales, I enjoy frequent day trips to Liverpool and feel I must show camaraderie with the City’s residents who boycott this newspaper. I will remain silent as a mark of respect to the 96 people who lost their lives at Hillsborough and their families.

Thank you for the opportunity and I hope you can understand and respect my decision. Let me take this chance to wish you all the best in the future.

Nathan Lee Davies
Disabled Activist and Author

Links and updates

his is a busy time for me, so I would like to keep you up to date with my recent activities by sharing a few links with you that show the pressures that I have been under and the local celebrity status I have been creating for myself ūüôā

Blue Badge Petition

Independent Living Debate with Ian Lucas

Daily Post Feature

The Leader

I am also looking forward to the following two events which I am busy trying to organise. The first of which is a #SaveWILG Art exhibition at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales. This event runs from January 24th to February 12th and includes art, poetry and pictures from a wide range of disability activists and artists. The official media day for this is on February 2nd. I am very proud of what we have put together in such a short space of time.

A leaflet for the Theatr Clwyd event has also been produced by Heather Wilson.

Our North-East Wales WLG/M comrades are centrally involved in organising this great event. It will be a fantastic occasion, but we need to get as many people there as possible! This is a day of entertainment and information. There is alcohol, soft drinks and food on sale at the venue and there is full Disabled access and a Disabled toilet. Some of our comrades are performing, but we would love to hear back from you or anyone you know how is in any way creative and/or a performer. Please do get in contact with either Vic Grout (vic.grout@glyndwr.ac.uk) or Louise Bosanquet (louise.bosanquet@hotmail.co.uk) if you would like to perform or know someone who would. The least we hope anyone can do is promote this event by sharing the flyer and printing it off and putting around your area, disability groups, CLPs etc etc. Raising awareness of the event is crucial to the campaign’s success! The event is FREE to all. Please do help in any way you can!