“Agile? Or fragile? Time will tell!”

1. General:

There are several similarities between the present situations of Flintshire County Council and the European Union. Two of them being that both are facing uncertain times and both are cash-strapped.
That may create problems for those at the top of each organisational tree, in either administrative, or political branches; but they are usually the ones who are best placed to safely survive any stormy weather blown in by the ever-present winds of change. My greater concern is for everyone way down at the bottom of the ladders of position, power and influence: Those far greater numbers of us who make up the every-day working and volunteer body of the communities, societies, cultures and nations of this questionably civilised world.

My hope is that by the time you finish reading this latest newsletter, you will at least be a little bit better informed about the present situation of both the county and the EU, because decisions likely to be made at both levels will affect us all in times ahead. More on the similarities later on.


2. What about Buckley?

(1) A little feed-back:
One of my undertakings as a Town Councillor is to attend the quarterly meetings of the North and Mid-Wales Association of Town & Community Councils. With 37 members across north wales and down to Oswestry, the association does represent the residents of a fair portion of the principality. We believe that it is necessary for the voice and views of the northerly part of the nation to be heard, loudly and clearly down in Cardiff. However, we are unloved by those striding the corridors of power “down south” because we insist on standing independent from the association they appear to prefer, which is “One Voice Wales.” Despite the Minister refusing to meet andtalk with us, our officers and secretary do sterling work in communicating with the more reasonable individuals in and around the Cardiff bubble.

From their latest conversations we now know more about two issues of concern. The first being the much publicised proposed re-organisation of county councils, from the present 22, down to 8 or 9, with the definitely unpopular proposal to combine Wrexham County Borough Council with Flintshire County Council. You will no doubt recall that the previous minister for local government, Leighton Andrews, who lost his seat in the elections last May, was replaced by Mark Drakeford, A.M. In the weeks following the May elections, the information then emanating from Cardiff was that with the disappearance of the last minister, that person’s proposals for re-organisation of county councils had disappeared too.

However, what is being uttered more recently is that the new minister intends to make a statement in the autumn, setting out his proposals for county council re-organisation, which, so the word goes, will not be dissimilar to what was on the table prior to the May elections, which proposed changes to be in place around 2020.

I do not intend, in these pages, to speculate on detail, but, with a probable move towards a halving of the number county councils and a parallel halving of the number of county councillors, I suspect there will be problems in maintaining the level and quality of service delivery as it presently is and, problems in getting younger people, those of working age, to step forwards to take on the representation of the residents at county council level involvements, simply because of the time demands needed.
Inevitably, for Buckley Town, that means change is coming down the line in terms of county name, county council name, headquarters location and whatever services the new entity decides, in the fullness of time, to deliver or not to deliver. Watch out for that autumn announcement!

The second item links in with that re-organisation of county councils and appears likely to run alongside it. In essence, The Local Government (Wales) Bill contains a statement that sets out that a review of Town and Community Councils is long overdue. Arising from that, there is now in existence a Boundary Commission, whose task is to consider the boundaries of the proposed new Town and Community Councils, which are likely to be called “Common Councils.”

Bear in mind, please, that in the majority (55 to 44) of the communities around Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, there are no actual Town or Community Councils. Next kindly consider that the population of Wales outside of those three urban centres is around 1.25million persons, who are presently being served by some 735 Town and Community Councils. A simple calculation provides that, presently, the average T&CC is serving around 1700 residents. That is most certainly not a great number of people.

In the middle of this year, the North and Mid-Wales Association of Town & Community Councils met with the Boundary Commission in order to attempt to gain some idea of how the process of re-organisation might be likely to proceed.
From those discussions, it would appear that the Welsh Government is seeking to reduce the number of T&CCs, from the existing 735, down to as close to 100 as can reasonably be achieved. Given that as the stated aim, a rapid calculation of 1.25million divided by 100 provides that the numerical size target for the new Common Councils is likely to be targeted at an average of 12,500 residents. It would also appear that the aim of the Commission is not to disturb existing ward or council boundaries, but rather to amalgamate wards, or councils.

Alongside of the geographical changes, there will be a significant down-sizing in numbers of councillors, by half or greater.
There many issues likely to arise during this process, such as how will they deal with locations such as Buckley, where the population is over that 12,500 marker? What smaller councils will they “wedge together” in order to reach their preferred average size for a Common Council? How will they manage rural areas where reaching up to or near that 12,500 marker might create a geographically huge area? Will there be any new powers, or duties, handed down to these new Common Councils and if the answer is “yes,” where will the additional financial, material and human resources come from. I am ever wary of the habit of those up above of handing downwards lots of new duties, without lots of new funding. Where that occurs, it is inevitably the community charge payer who gets lumbered with the bill.

Fortunately, the Boundary Commission appears willing, indeed eager, to get the views of Town and Community Councils before it submits its own report, in autumn, to the Welsh Government. To assist them with that aim, the Association of Town and Community Councils of North & Mid Wales has recently written to each of its 37 member councils, seeking comments, observations, recommendations or objections about the proposed new Common Councils. Each councillor in Buckley has received a copy of that letter. If you, as a reader of this newsletter, have any strong views on the proposed changes to County, Town & Community Councils and those who might wish to serve on them, please do let me know. I will gladly incorporate them into the report that I shall be compiling in weeks ahead.

(2) Who Did It?
Some readers, perhaps not all, will be aware that in Bistre East Ward, just a few years back, a Community Woodland was created, by FCC, on a location downhill from but close by the Wales Natural Resources Office on Chester Road. (The Dirty Mile). Just a couple of acres of wilderness, with trees, bushes, a modest pond and a few pathways, some of them wheelchair-friendly.
By the entrance, a fairly detailed visitor explanation board was set up, with quite a deal of local history recorded on it. To facilitate parking and encourage visitors, particularly for those who do use wheelchairs or mobility scooters, a public car-park for six or seven vehicles was set close by the entrance.

To my knowledge, a number of individuals, plus a local walking group have accessed the place, some on a regular basis and there is also evidence that a number of dog-walkers find it useful too. Sadly, not all of them appear to pick up their dog’s droppings, as they should do.
On a recent visit there, over a weekend, much to my amazement I found that the public carpark was full of vehicles, but was chained off, with a notice advising that usage is now limited to Natural Resources Wales staff, only. I have inquired as to why this change has occurred, without any word to either of your two county councillors for the ward, or any information to anyone at our town council. It appears that the car-park has been leased by FCC to Natural Resources Wales. I am still awaiting some explanation as to why there was no discussion about the intention to bar the public from the car-park, which was established specifically to facilitate the usage of the woodland by the public as an amenity area. I intend to dig deeper and will report back what explanations I eventually receive.

(3) The Etna Recycling Facility:
I doubt there is a single resident of Buckley who is not aware that, some several weeks back, the Labour administration at County Hall published proposals to re-organise and allegedly improve recycling centres around the county; including to close our local recycling facility.
Suffice to say that every town and county councillor for Buckley, as well as lots and lots of other local people, were, quite frankly, astounded by the proposal in respect of the Etna location, which, in the view of many, had the whiff of political manipulation about it. The proposals were based on a lengthy report submitted to the county following a visit to the county’s recycling facilities, by officials from WRAP Cymru, based in their regional Cardiff Office. For those who are unfamiliar with the WRAP organisation, they are The Waste and Resources Action Programme, which is registered as a company limited by guarantee in England & Wales. The organisation works with government, local government, charitable organisations and businesses to reduce waste and maximise recycling throughout the UK.

As a past chairman of the community pressure group called the Zero Waste Alliance, UK, I fully support their overall activities. However, the report placed before one of the meetings of FCC’s Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee, at the end of May, was so full of factual errors, suppositions and projections presented as fact, that it really did beggar belief.
With support from sympathetic county councillors in both the LibDem and Conservative groups, a few of us Buckley County Councillors not normally on that Environment OV&S committee were able to be there as substitutes. We all made our views known, quite firmly and factually. It was good to experience an instance where party and personal issues were put aside in the interests of a community cause. In fairness, I need to report that Cllr. Ian Roberts, a Labour stalwart from Flint, got in first and did an excellent job himself in rubbishing the WRAP report, in defence of his own local facility in Flint. Us Buckley councillors built upon his welcome foundation.

To cut a long story short, the matter has now been re-considered by FCC’s Cabinet, at their meeting on 19th July, when proposals were brought forwards to improve, expand and develop the Etna Recycling Facility, that work to be supported by funds to be made available by the Welsh Government. To all residents who wrote me letters, phoned me, sent me emails, signed the on-line or paper petitions, in connection with this particular issue, my sincere thanks.

At this point, readers might well expect that the issue was all over as of 19th July. In a hopefully short time, Buckley will have a much improved recycling facility, with no rickety iron steps to clamber up and down and a separation of private vehicles wishing to deliver recyclable or rubbish material from skip lorries rotating full skips for empty ones.

However, arising from the June meeting of Buckley Town Council, a fairly strong, but factual, letter was sent to WRAP, in Cardiff, copied to the appropriate WAG Minister. That elicited a response in which WRAP stated that their detailed report to county council was only a “Draft Report” for consideration; certainly not a final report with firm proposals, as it was represented to be when made public by Flintshire County Council. You may take it that our Buckley Town Clerk, Mr. Martin Wright, has asked FCC’s officers which way they viewed the document when it became an Agenda Item on the OV&S committee. Those asked have replied that, as far as they were concerned, the WRAP report was a final document, not a draft one. I pass no further comment!

(4) A Glimmer of Progress!
Many of you will be aware that the old, now disused, Padeswood Medical Centre has been, for several months, the object of a sale agreement between Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and Grwp Cynefyn, a social housing provider, wishing to pull down the old structure and replace it with 21 or perhaps 24 Maisonettes. Despite best encouragements from Cllr. Richard Jones and from myself, the planning application has moved somewhat slowly, partly because of disagreements over community benefit payments, wrapped up within what we call Section 106 Agreements.

On 20th July just gone, the Section 106 issues were finally resolved and the necessary agreement all signed, sealed and delivered as it were. We now look forward to seeing some demolition work on the site, followed by construction of the new maisonettes, a few of which will carry the “affordable” tag, meaning potential purchase at something like 15-20% below standard market price.

(5) The Precinct:
As previously reported, planning permission has been granted for the owners to re-shape the front entrance area, where Nat/west Bank and Nice Price once were, to form a single larger unit, of the kind that attracts certain well-known brands of companies whose business plans are based upon retail outlets of some 4,000sq ft. of floor space. The Precinct’s owners seem content to let that one just sit, which is not what us councillors, or the town’s residents at large really appreciate.

(6) Lane End & Prince of Wales Court Parking Problems:
Cllr. Richard Jones and I are not unaware of the several problems caused by cars parked at the roadside, close to the junction of Chester Road and Brook Street, including the re-routing of certain Arriva buses, on safety grounds after four minor collisions. We have had our two heads together with officers of several departments at FCC, to see what better use might be made of the modest piece of green space adjacent to the children’s play area just off Jubilee Road, alongside the cricket ground boundary. Plans are now in hand to adjust the total size of the play area, without losing any useful equipment, to shift some kerbstones, certain lighting poles, tarmac some few dozen square yards of the area and re-organise the layout of parking bays, in order to make available something close to 18 off-road parking spaces.

Fortunately, both of us were aware of a modest pot of money sitting within FCC, which will be adequate to cover the cost of the project, presently estimated at around £25,000. We had hoped to compensate for pinching the few feet of the play area at the inner end by expanding it at the Jubilee Road end, by moving the fence-line along Jubilee Road just a few feet, to take in the present small stretch of green grassed area between the existing play area fence-line and the inner edge of the actual pavement. However, to move that fence, lawfully, just those few feet, would, so we are told, mean that our helpful FCC officers would have to submit, to the FCC Planning Department, a formal application for change of use of the small area of grassed land involved. Undertaking that purely internal process could delay the whole project by many weeks, possibly months. Given that none of us involved, councillors or officers, wish to see any delay in getting the project completed, we have all agreed to forego the moving of the few yards of fence-line involved.

Barring any unforeseen problems, the whole project should be completed within the next ninety days or so.

(7) Up The Pole?
When local residents come to me with problems, I do try my best to resolve them. If I cannot get a positive result, I always ensure that I provide feed-back about why no positive result can be achieved. Recently, one of our Older Citizens, a mobility scooter user, asked me if a volumetric mirror might be mounted on one of the street lighting poles along Brunswick Road, to facilitate safer crossing of that road in the area of the now Budgeon’s Store, given the illegally high speed of many motorists and the presence of a bend limiting vision.

When I put the question to the appropriate Officer, I was advised that the fitment of a volumetric mirror on to a street lighting pole would be impossible, as no signs whatever are allowed to be attached to them because it would be illegal to do so.
While I chose not to argue the point, something way back in the far reaches of my mind started niggling and itching. To assuage the niggles and itches, I drove a short distance around Buckley, looking at assorted roadside lighting poles. In under a couple of miles, I discovered lighting poles which had speed camera warning signs on them, public car-park direction and information signs, road layout change advice signs, house building project signs and even a “Property for Sale” sign, all firmly hitched to such poles.
You may take it that I have passed my observations back to the Officer concerned, with a request for an explanation. As at date of going to press, no explanation has appeared. Readers may take it that I do not intend to let the matter rest there. Watch out for an update in my next newsletter.

(8) Up the Creek?
Several of you have, in recent weeks, complained to me about worn-out painted road markings, particularly at road junctions, overgrown hedges obstructing pavements, trees and bushes obscuring all manner of roadside signs and umpteen drains/gullies being bunged full of grit, mud and plastic discards, in and around Buckley Town. All I can offer is the fact that I do report these issues as they arise. What seems to create some slow, or no, response, is that if there is no immediate danger, such workloads are added to a “scheduled” work list, to be undertaken whenever the “class” of reported item is next due to be routinely attended to. The longest outstanding item on my list of “still awaiting attention” is the collapsed armour-guard set on the bridge over the A494 halfway down Aston Hill. First advised by me to county in April of last year and still not put right. Latest advice, dated 9/6/16, being that the matter is still one of discussions about who owns or is responsible for that particular portion of road and the roadside furniture thereon. Said discussions are apparently still ongoing, between FCC Highways officers and the North & Mid-Wales Road Traffic Agency (NMWRTA).

(9) The Budgens Store:
At the time of writing this newsletter, the new Budgens Store has been open barely one week. Some starting gremlins meant that the place had barely opened when a row of freezers failed, resulting in quantities of stock having to be binned. No permanent manager has been allocated to their new outlet as yet and that the whole store is still in settling-down status, so it is far too early to comment on likely long-term success or failure. I wish them well in competing with Aldi, Iceland and other firmly-established local retail outlets, because the jobs of staff who transferred over from the Co-op to Budgens depend upon this new venture being successful and also because local shoppers need healthy competition in retail choice within the town.


3. Flintshire C. C., its Finances and Future Service Provision:

One of the unchanged circumstances in these times of almost perpetual change is that Flintshire has been and still is a basically under-funded county. It was that way when I was Leader between 2008 and 2012 and it is still that way now, with Cllr. Aaron Shotton as Leader. In round terms, using the simple, if crude measure of average financial support to each county from the Wales Government, in terms of what is commonly called the Rates Support Grant, which feeds in to our Revenue Account, as against our Capital Expenditure Account, this county is some £17million per year below the Wales average of county funding.
The effect of that has been that this county, compared to better-funded counties, near and far, has had to move more rapidly and dig deep more deeply than others as the year on year cuts in funding have appeared.

Being all too well aware of the financial reality facing us, the county’s various administrations have, over the past 8 years, been among the foremost to accept the need to undertake changes in order to make efficiencies and create necessary savings, so as to stay within the legally required balanced budget provision, in the face of substantial year-on-year cuts in our Rates Support Grant.
So far, that has been achieved by adjusting administrative structures, consolidating office and site provision, downsizing the workforce, adopting Agile Working and Hot Desking processes; accepting the need for Community Asset Transfer activities in respect of appropriate assets and moving towards certain Alternative Delivery Methods for suitable service delivery activities.

The size of the financial gap, year by year, was influenced by the combined effect of:
* Reductions of the Revenue Support Grant from Welsh Government.
* Reductions in specific grants from Welsh Government.
* No provision within the Local Government Settlement for pay and price inflation.
* Limited or no provision within the Local Government Settlement for nationally recognised demand led or policy led cost pressures in services, e.g., Council tax reduction scheme, charging caps within Social Services.
* Local services and corporate financing cost pressures.
What all of that pre-amble really means is that there is a currently estimated £14million gap in the provisional budget figures for the 2017-18 financial year.

There are no more conveniently low-hanging fruits of efficiencies nor economies to be picked off, no more structural changes or downsizings available to close the impending gap, without some significant cuts in staffing levels and service provision.
Putting it bluntly, unless the Welsh Government seriously and quickly revises both its ideas of and its funding for Flintshire County Council, significant cuts in public service delivery will have to be made next year, right across the board, including education and social services provisions! That does not sit comfortably with those of us, officers or councillors, who came into local government hoping to contribute, as best we might, towards making life just a little bit better for all members of our community.
Over the next few months, serious discussions will take place between this Local Authority and the Welsh Government about additional
funding. Every resident in the county needs to hope and pray that the representations made do not fall upon deaf ears.


4. The EU and Brexit:

I believe most readers of my periodic newsletters are aware of my background as a police officer. Perhaps not as many will be aware of my hobby, given the chance, of archaeology, to the level of having spent nearly a year being a professional one. Experience teaches one that in any argument there are usually three sides to it; those of the protagonists and then the truth or the facts. That probably accounts for my habit of seeking out evidence and fact, rather than just relying on the gossip, rumour, bias and prejudice being spouted by the would-be opinion-makers on either side of whichever argument.
Thus it was over the EU Referendum issue, in relation to which, once it surfaced as a real event, I went digging! What I winkled out was both fascinating and illuminating.

Forgetting the fact that both sides “played the man and not the ball,” which is, unfortunately, common in political campaigns, both sides delivered some fairy-tales that the Brothers Grimm or Roald Dahl would have been proud of. From the Leave camp the greatest was the “£350Million per week could go to the NHS!” From the Remain camp it was “The EU is our biggest trading partner!”

Simple mathematics destroys the credibility of the first one, but the second one needs a closer look. The “55% of our trade is with the EU” claim is, nominally, supported by available figures, but, as I discovered, that figure does not allow for “The Rotterdam/Antwerp” effect, or the Netherlands’ “Brass Plate Companies” effect, both of which are real. In the first case, as far as material goods are concerned, when a shipment for a company or government in South America or the Far East is despatched, it usually goes via Antwerp or Rotterdam, in which case it is counted as trade with the EU: Similarly so, with a plethora of “Service Activities” such as IT, Finance or Management Consultancy, billed to and paid from corporate “Addresses of Convenience” located in the Netherlands, but actually delivered to working locations scattered all around the world.
Our UK Office of National Statistics appears to keep no accurate figures of this oddity of statistics. However, their own observations suggest the figure represents something of the order of 11 to 15%. Remove either of those figures from the alleged “55% of our trade is with the EU” claim and a more factual 40 to 45% figure appears. Thus the EU is clearly not our biggest trading partner.

As well as the volume of trade being of interest, I did concern myself with whether or not the trading has been profitable over the years.
What came out there was a bit of a shocker. Apart from one early year, when the balance was in the UK’s favour, year on year our nation has made a financial loss in trading with the EU. Without boring you all to tears with statistics, in 2014, that loss was 59billion Euros. We did make a useful £26billion profit that same year, in trading with the rest of the world. Translating that last figure into the then exchange rate, that comes out at about 33billion Euros. To cover that difference of 26billion Euros, this nation of ours has had to borrow, by offering gilt-edged bonds, on the open international financial markets, incurring us in a growing national debt, along with annual interest repayment burdens.

Again, keeping this simple, the year-on-year trading losses we have incurred with the EU represent between one half and two thirds of our current gross national debt, which, as I write this, stands at a little over £1.3trillion, the interest bill for which has now reached £1billion per week, which, incidentally, is more than our nation now spends on either defence or education!
Looking at the philosophy behind the “European Project” which is the purpose of the EU, proved interesting. It was set out openly and clearly in The 1969 report to the Commission produced by Pierre Werner, then Prime Minister of Luxemburg, one of the six original signatories to the EU’s 1957 founding agreement. That report, presented to the Commission in November of 1970, is available on the www. It has some three dozen pages. On page 13 at paragraph 2, it reads, “The transfer to the Community (Commission!) level of the powers exercised hitherto by national authorities will go hand in hand with the transfer of a corresponding Parliamentary responsibility from the national plane to that of the Community.” (Think Finance, Defence, Foreign Affairs, etc!)
Interestingly, that report was never allowed to be published in the UK. It was kept out of sight of the public, firstly by Edward Heath and then by Harold Wilson, both of whom advocated that the UK should join the then so-called “European Free Trade Area,” which most voters of the early 1970s were happy enough to do.

I then took a look at who gains and who loses in relation to their basic annual contributions to and largess received back from the EU, which entity’s purpose is of course to create equality of economies, social justice and welfare across member nations. The table of 2014 was the latest I could find. Without burdening you with all 84 sets of figures, some of the examples of how
the money gets taken in, given out and used up, let me give you a sample or two, showing the top contributors to and recipients of the EU’s contribution income.


The figures are all in billions of Euros:
Germany put in 29.376, received back 13.056 (44.44%) and was the largest nett contributor at 16.32billion. The UK put in17.068, received back 6.308 (36.95%) and was the second largest nett contributor at 10.76billion. France put in 23.291, received back 14.239 (61.13%), which made that nation the third largest contributor at 9.052billion.

Of the total, that year, of the contributions amounting to 139.739billion, 134.608billion was handed back to assorted nations as development grants, for instance to Poland which nation contributed 4.214billion, but received some 16.179billion in support payments, or nearly four times what it put in, to build roadways, hospitals, etc., as directed by the Commissioners. Other major recipients of EU largess in that year were Hungary, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia and Greece.

However, of greater concern to me than the total amounts contributed or received back, was the audit report from the European Commission’s own Court of Auditors, which stated that they were unable to account for some 119billion of that 134.608billion, due to poor, or a lack of, financial record-keeping in the less developed member nations. What my searching also threw up was that the situation has been the same for the past 19 years. Serious questions of delay, incompetence, or even misappropriation of billions of Euros clearly arise, but, equally clearly, nobody within the system appears to be willing to even ask, let alone follow-up on where the money has really gone to. Nobody seems to wish to rock the boat.

However, my inquisitive ramblings led me to the fact that when the EU was having problems in the 1980s, our UK government lent them the services of an eminent economist called Bernard Connolly. He worked for the Commission for 9 years, until 1995, when he published a very serious book, called “The Rotten Heart of Europe,” on why the EU, busy driving Project Europe, simply could not, in the long run, survive. For his efforts, the Commission sacked him. He argued British freedom of Expression Laws prevented them from doing that. They claimed that while the UK worked on individuals being able to do anything, provided there was no law against it, over on the continent they worked it that unless there is a law that says you can, then you cannot. Thus, as there was no law saying Bernard Connolly could criticise them and Project Europe, his book and his actions were illegal and they could rightly fire him. It all ended up in the European High Court, where, in 2001, Judge Colomer, head of the panel, eventually ruled that “British case history and legal precedent had no force, effect or standing at European level” and found in favour of the Commission.

Those aforesaid ramblings also threw up Mikhail Gorbachev’s critical comments in the 1990s and in 2000 in London, following the collapse of the USSR and taking down of the Berlin Wall, when he questioned why Europe was trying to create the same kind of totalitarian state which he had been instrumental in dismantling because it was simply unworkable. His criticism was echoed when Vladimir Bukovsky, a notable critic of the USSR, expelled to the West in 1976, asked literally the same question. His comments appeared in the New York Times on 7th April, 2007.

Until this all started, I had not registered that, in entering the EU in the 1970s, the UK, the 5th largest economy in the world, gave up its individual seat at the World Trade Federation and accepted representation by the EU. What also came to light was the wish of the EU to create its own defence force and its preposterously impertinent vote, approved by MEPs, in November, 2015, that both France and the UK should give up their individual seats at the UN Security Council, in favour of a single EU representative, because, when nearly 500 of them declared that France and the UK, “do not represent European views enough to warrant their places.”

I did take a look at the EU Working Time Directive and other labour protection laws and other claimed benefits of being in the EU, but found many of the so-called benefits, such as freedom of travel, quite laughable. I was travelling around Europe in the 1960s without any difficulty at all. Similarly, the claim that the EU has kept the peace in Europe since WWII. Sorry, peace owes much more to the existence of NATO than it does to the EU.

I also took a good look at how this business of the EU funding UK industrial activity to go abroad to less developed EU nations has worked out. That seems to have damaged this nation considerably, with dozens of companies and thousands of jobs leaving then UK to go to lowly paid countries, whose workers are heading to this country where even the minimum wage is higher than that in their own nations.

For example, Cadbury moved to Poland in 2011, supported by a sizable EU grant. Crown Closures (Metal Box) also moved to Poland from Bournemouth, on the back of an EU grant. The list to date is lengthy.

Finally, I ventured to read the comments made last February and April, by David Foulkes-Landau, Chief Economist of the Deutsche Bank, in which he advised a serious change of course was needed from the EU and its European Central Bank, because its present course was unsustainable and its purpose unachievable.

At the end of my investigation, the evidence weighed heavily one way, which is why I became an active campaigner for the Vote Leave cause. Not that I am anti-European; far from it. One half of my ancestry lies over there. Nor do I wish to be associated with those xenophobes who are using the Referendum result as a “Get the foreigner out!” weapon.

Now we need a UK Government that will honour the democratic will of the majority, get us out of the EU on the best terms available, remembering that on the balance of trade figures, they need us more than we need them, because, if we have 3,000,000 jobs at risk, if barriers are stupidly put up, they have equally at risk, some 5,000,000. While that is going on, over the next couple of years or more, we need to get on and do what we British are good at, which is, as Napolean once accused us of – and, in 1805, attempted to stop us being – world-wide traders!


5. Business As Usual!

While the doom and gloom merchants have been claiming that Brexit will cause all sorts of disasters from the collapse of global economy to an invasion from Mars, calmer heads have kept their eyes on reality.
Taking advantage of the temporary decrease in market value of the £, a Japanese company, Softbank, has agreed to buy UK’s ARM for £24.3 billion, securing a slice of virtually every mobile computing gadget on the planet and future connected devices in the home. The Japanese company is offering 1,700p in cash per share or a 43 per cent premium to Friday's closing price, according to a statement on Monday, 18th July. The deal would be the biggest ever for SoftBank, which will gain control of a cash-generating mobile industry leader who gets royalties every time clients such as Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. or Qualcomm Inc. adopt its designs, which are considered power-saving and efficient.

SoftBank has pledged to keep ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and its senior management team and to at least double employee headcount in the UK in the next five years. Softbank had been considering making the purchase of ARM before the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Phillip Hammond, MP, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer commented, “Just three weeks or so after the referendum decision, it shows
that Britain has lost none of its allure to international investors.”

6. The Other Referendum:

Just in case you have missed it, there is a wee bit of a spat going on between Rome and Brussels. I say “a wee bit of a spat” with my tongue firmly in my cheek, because this particular spat could even bring down the Eurozone!
Okay, now that I have your attention, the story goes like this:
Once upon a time, in 2008, there was a banking crisis, caused by the USA’s sub-prime mortgage activities going pear-shaped. Many of you will remember it. Those who read my last newsletter will recall that, in it, I set out matters of the EU banning further “Bail-outs” of banks and bringing in the “Bail-in” rules, and the collapse of four Italian banks in November, 2015, with tragic consequences.

Most EU nations, such as the UK, Ireland, and Spain, who were caught up in the 2008 crisis, which we are all still trying to fully recover from, each bit the bullet and cleaned up their banks and banking systems, promptly. Italy did nothing of the kind. In a way, Italy’s authorities had good intentions. When loans turn bad and banks lose money, someone has to pay. It should be the banks’ investors, the shareholders and bondholders, who take the risk of investing, for the chance of making a profit. Unfortunately, in Italy, householders are keen investors in bank bonds and they who would have been badly burnt in cash terms if they had then been required to face up to those evident losses.

The size of those potential losses is significant, something in the order of 360billion Euros (about £300billion). The Italian banks need either a massive injection of liquidity, or to implement the latest Bail-In rules and predate upon their investor and bondholder accounts, as the EU has instructed.

Because of the sensitivity within the population in 2008, nothing, as said above, was done. The many account and bondholders have thus been allowed to keep sight of their savings and the banks have been allowed to ignore their bad loans. That action did save the Italian nation some short-term pain, but the underlying financial problem never went away. Right now, those underlying financial problems have spread to the wider economy and are morphing into a political crisis with implications right across the EU: A political crisis which could bring down the Italian government.

If no compromise is reached, between Rome, which wants to protect bondholders and the EU, which wants to enforce the rules, it could even bring down the Eurozone. One eminent lawyer, who is close to the situation has commented, “This could be a bigger risk than Brexit. Whereas the Greeks are willing to suffer because they are desperate to be anchored into Europe, I am not sure that the Italians are.”

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has taken a political gamble by calling for a Referendum in October, in order to make changes to the upper house of the Italian government, to assist him in dealing with the banking crisis the nation faces. If he fails to win that election, it is almost certain his government will fall. That could cause a general election, in which the parties which wish to leave the EU, could, foreseeably, do very well.


7. Dog DNA Registration Scheme:

Readers may recall that in responding the most common complaint from the public, locally and nationally, that of the dog-dirt fouling of pavements, roads, recreation and play areas, last November, I put in to FCC a Notice of Motion, calling for a feasibility study to look into the possibility of establishing a Dog DNA Registration Scheme here in Flintshire. I have since been a member of the small task and finish group set up to examine what can be done to better control and hopefully eliminate the problem. On June 30th I went with Cllr. Veronica Gay, who is chair of the group, to a seminar on the subject, organised by Barking & Dagenham Council, in East London. The fifty or so of Rules of privatisationus gathered were from all over the world, because the problem is a global one.

Not only because of the filth and smell aspect, but also the more serious issue of the transmission of Toxocara. Toxocariasis is the parasitic disease caused by the larvae of Toxocara canis roundworms, deposited by dogs, which can cause sickness, blindness or loss of limbs in humans.

Issues of specific laws, population education, dog-free zones, enforcement, exhibit processes, court processes and the cost of sampling for registration, presently £35 per dog, per lifetime, were all discussed, during a lively seminar, actively led by the Leader of the host council, who is dedicated to finding a workable solution to the problem.

I cannot say that there appears to be the same enthusiasm within the controlling administration here in Flintshire, where some members of the ruling party have spoken out publicly against such a scheme. While I cannot guarantee the continuation of the task and finish group through to some positive and satisfactory conclusion, in the face of the opposition being encountered, you may rest assured that there are some of us councillors working hard, thinking positively and at least trying to solve this common problem.


8. Be Careful of Whatever You Start:

You are all aware of my strong opposition to the American take-over of world trade on the back of alleged free trade agreements such as TTIP, with its Investor/Supplier Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals outside of national courts, ordering governments and local governments to pay compensatory fines of $millions for “loss of potential profits” to USA companies, even where they have never traded.

Well, a year or two back, the gasoline-hungry USA wished to bring lots of oil by pipeline from Alaska, across Canada to the USA. The proposal was called the KeystoneXL Pipeline Project. To back it and take the profits from its operation, a multi-national financial conglomerate, called “The TransCanada Corporation” was brought together. Unfortunately for that entity, but, fortunately for the environment, the USA senate, not long ago, refused permission for the pipeline to go ahead. Now, using the ISDS rules, the company has entered a claim for compensation against the USA government, in the sum of $15billion. Perhaps a classic case of “The Biter Being Bitten!”


Remember please that I am always available to try to deal with your day-to-day problems. If you wish to contact me, by letter, email or by phone, please use: 75 Bryn Awelon, Buckley, Flintshire, CH7 2QF
(01244) 549421(H), or (01352) 752121(FCC), or arnooldwoolley@outlook.com


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