Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Lib Dem Leadership

Jenny Willott changed her mind quite quickly about Charles Kennedy. First of all on Friday she was backing him, then her name was on the list of 25 calling for Chatshow Charlie to quit. The BBC's Wales at Westminster Weblog also picked up on this. There was a story in yesterday's Echo on the same subject, but I can't find it online. I'll have another look in a bit.

Lembit, one would imagine, is not a happy man.

So, who will Jenny support in the leadership election? Emperor Ming? David Cameron's best friend Mark Oaten? The will-probably-stand-but-who-really-knows Simon Hughes? Or will she do a Boris and vote more than once?

Your guess is as good as ours...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Glamorgan Cricket Club's plans on ice

It's unlikely that Sophia Gardens will be housing the temporary ice rink for the Cardiff Devils.

An executive meeting of Cardiff County Council has recommended that it be built at the International Sports Village.

I say unlikely, because the executive decision still has to be approved by the planning committee on January 18th, although it would be very strange if the committee went against the recommendations of the executive in this case.

Just to clarify what's going before the planning committee - it's the application to build a temporary ice rink in the International Sports Village down at Cardiff Bay.

It is NOT the Sophia Gardens application, which was meant to be discussed at this month's meeting but has been put back until February because it was lacking various bits of information.

But regardless of where the ice rink is built, this won't affect Glamorgan County Cricket Club's application one bit - they'll still go ahead with the same plans they've submitted with, I'd imagine, a conference facility and indoor arena where the rink would have been. The 17,000 seater stadium and other facilities will also remain in the application.

The club also hasn't given up on it's ambitions to host test cricket, and says it will be look to work with the Welsh Assembly as well as the council. The club is still looking for public money.

But, having seen acopy of that executive report, it's also worth nothing a few interesting bits and pieces that weren't picked up in the Echo.

Although a £2m figure has been quoted, GCCC actually requested an extra £0.5m. The source of this half a million balance has not been identified by the council, if they were to enter into a contract with GCCC. The club also hasn't finalised arrangements for any third party funding.

The Ice Rink facility itself would not have been ready until 2007, which is too long if the Council is to honour its promises to the Devils and its fans.

But, most interesting of all, is the line "GCCC's chosen contractor has limited financial substance and to date details of its funding for this project have not been identified". The club have proposeda turn-key contract, which means no payment will be given to the contractor until 8 months after the project is started. This means costs will rise to £3.5m.

The contractor has also not been able to provide a contractors bond, meaning if the company got into further difficulties, this could delay the development even further.

The above all leads to the conclusion in the report that the venture at Sophia Gardens would be too risky.

EDIT: You can download the pdf of the executive report here, although some of the appendicies remain confidential.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Halal school meal provision

Another press release from Plaid Cymru, more of a release of a letter, actually. Been sat on it for a few days but was reminded listening to Primetime (yes, Primetime, the Saga radio station for the over fifties) where it came up on the national news. Also on the BBC, Muslim pupils given food apology.
Hugh Knight
Chief Schools Officer
Room 317c
County Hall

Dear Mr Knight


It has been brought to my attention by the parents of Muslim school children of Mount Stuart Primary School, that yesterday the School served the Muslim children pork sausages, etc (non-halal meat), which is completely forbidden by their religion.

I believe Mount Stuart Primary School was the first school to introduce halal school meals for children. The Muslim communities in the Butetown, Grangetown and Riverside areas are very upset after hearing of this incident.

Would you please investigate this matter as soon as possible and make sure that Muslim school children are not served any more pork (non halal food) in future.

I would appreciate your comments on this matter.

Yours sincerely


Cardiff Central Watch reports back

Some time ago I got the Lib Dem 'Delivering our promises to the people of Cardiff' leaflet - 'Liberal Democrats on Cardiff Council report back'. And now we report back.

It hasn't been scanned in yet because it's of a very inconvenient format. It begins with a nice group portrait of the Lib Dem Council group following the 2004 elections, including the Cathays councillor who later defected to Plaid Cymru. On the back is the obligatory 'Only the Liberal Democrats can beat Labour in Cardiff' graph.

But it's the stuff in between that's the most interesting. We're just going to take a quick whizz through.
Allowances have been cut back to a more reasonable level
Without making judgements on councillors allowance, what the leaflet fails to mention is that total allowances for 2004/5 are £1,079,902.44. Berman takes home £43,202.04 while another section of the leaflet crows about Russell Goodway's £72,000 from 2000. Allowances payments PDF from Cardiff council.
After years of inaction under Labour we've started construction of a new £4 million recycling plant to enable us to provide free kerbside recycling for every street in Cardiff by September 2007
Don't have to go far to peak under the bonnet of this one... City's push to recycle waste, icWales, 3rd Nov 2005. 80% of houses covered by summer 2007, £4 million on the recycling plant plus over £3 million for the recycling scheme itself, in order to meet Assembly targets of a 40% reduction in wate by 2010, a target introduced by the Assembly in 1999, see Plan for Wales targets from Assembly.
Consulted through surveys and focus groups
Council tax consultation surveys are still up on the website, see the survey itself and the background information. In the grand tradition of public consultation its fairly obscure, would you like to see natural and built environment services increased, decreased or kept the same? All the consultation earns admiration in a News Wales article, Cardiff residents to have say on council tax.
the Lib Dem Council's crackdown on stray horses
I read this scrutiny report (PDF) a while ago but didn't think it was that important. Obviously it is to the residents of Pengam Green, Pentwyn, Llanedeyrn, Rumney and St Mellons.
action to de-silt Roath Park Lake at long last!
As far as I can tell from bits and bobs of news the lake was last worked on in 2003 (BBC, Green lake blamed on duck feed) and the current work began in the summer, a press release from Capital Times, The Jewel in Cardiff's Crown, covers the recent work carried out by Land and Water.
Drawn up plans to emply dedicated community support officers
The promise was for 'council-employed community support officers' but the only information on community support officers is on a national scale, as part of government initiatives. Indeed there is an episode on Hansard where a Leeds MP reveals that his local Lib Dem - Con council tried to claim responsibilty for these new officers (second section down) and more on community support officers in Wales specifically (second section down, again). More on that TOGETHER conference from the Government News Network. This part needs a little more digging.
Started taking steps to stop £3 million a year being wasted on empty classroom places
There is a Schools for the Future report (PDF) from July of this year which - as well as being fascinating in its own right - sheds light on these education themed pledges. It puts the surplus as £2.75 million which would double within seven years as class sizes continue to decline. £400 million needs to be spent on repairing run down buildings, plus £60 million for a backlog of repairs: 'investment at this level is accepted as unaffordable over the next five years, so priorities will need to be assessed and choices made' (page 10).

Referenced several times is the Report of the Joint Review of Social Services in Cardiff (PDF). Also useful would be the 2004 Lib Dem manifesto, from Cllr Montemaggi's Grangetown page.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

In the news

The Devolution Bill:

End of the devolution question? (8th Dec, WM) Another new dawn for devolution by Peter Hain (8th Dec, WM) 'Like other parties we want to keep a few surprises' (9th Dec, WM) Tories relax on devolution but what of the bill? (10th Dec, WM)

And more specifically the dual candidacy issue:

Labour's 'cynical election ploy' under attack (9th Dec, WM) Assembly could lose best politicians (9th Dec, WM) Plan to ban dual candidacies rejected (9th Dec, WM) which Peter Black also discusses in Where have all the top quality politicians gone

And the new Shadow Welsh secretary:

English MP shadows Wales (again) (9th Dec, WM) Wales shadow is England MP (9th Dec, WM) Cameron's Welsh woman denies slur (10th Dec, WM)

And Glenys Kinnock on Hong Kong's WTO talks: Failure means suffering and injustice (10th Dec, WM)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In the news

Pledge on Cardiff congestion charging (SWE, 1st Dec) and 'Cardiff streets will be a lot safer' (SWE, 1st Dec) for a bit of anti-car news.

Leanne Wood stirs it up a bit #2348: AM's jibe at fury over assembly daubers (SWE, 1st Dec).

Hold on to your chromosomes... Nuclear fall-out as Wales and Blair disagree (WM, 26th Nov).

Pension crisis? What pension crisis? Pension crises worse in Wales (WM, 1st Dec).


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