1. Generally and Broadly:

If you, dear reader, have not yet looked at and listened to one or other of the versions of “The Galaxy Song,” which is readily available on u-tube, may I suggest that you do so whenever you have a spare moment? Or perhaps whenever you next feel a wee bit down-in-the-dumps, which is where we all get to on occasions, hopefully on very few occasions.


Apart from simply being very entertaining, the song, especially Eric Idle’s version, which I prefer, helps to remind me of just what a miniscule, unimportant particle I am, when measured against the magnitude, grandeur, complexity and wonder of the universe of which we are all a part. That thought does not depress me, far from it. It helps me to remember that there are issues and events that I, as a town and county councillor, can help influence, steer or change and those others that I cannot. It helps me to keep my feet firmly on the ground and to concentrate my galactically puny efforts on those matters that are most directly important to local residents in the ward, the town and the county so that our local government works best for the community.


That is not to say that I ignore the bigger picture issues, which I don’t, but, of that, more anon.


The song also helps me to remember one very important part of my graduate level studies for qualification as a manager. That being the essential need to not only look closely and critically at each decision I might make, or be involved in making, but, more importantly, to look even more closely at the probable, even the possible, effects, of those decisions, in both the short and long term.
Without boring you with too many examples, just reflect upon the deliberations of Dr. Beeching and the subsequent railways closures in the 60s, Maggie Thatcher’s decision to bring in the unpopular Poll Tax and the USA’s more recent decision to create Regime Change, here, there and everywhere in the middle east.


Of each of those, the respective decision-makers of the day would no doubt respond, if asked right now, with the trite phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time!”


If the years have taught me that one habit above, they have also taught me to apply one other rule of sensible management, which is that of paying close attention to trends, rather than just the immediate picture now. Unfortunately, both our local and national political leaders have, over the years – probably because of the relatively short term they have in office - appeared more inclined to concentrate upon their “now” picture, gleefully trumpeting as a success any momentarily upward movement, even in a steadily downward trend.


One undesirable trend which this nation urgently needs to correct is that of individual, as well as national, productivity, as compared against those nations with whom we are traditional trading competitors, whether within or without the EU. The latest figures I have been able to obtain, from the ONS, are from February of 2016, as reported in The Guardian newspaper of that date. The report reads :-


“Britain’s poor productivity record has been highlighted by government figures showing the biggest gap with other leading western economies since modern records began in the early 1990s.
Output per hour worked in the UK was 18 percentage points below the average for the remaining 6 members of the G7 group of industrial nations in 2014, the ONS reported.
The gap, up one percentage point on the previous year, was the widest since 1991 and showed a marked deterioration since the onset of the financial crisis and deep recession of 2007-09.”


The report continues that the Commons Select Committee which investigated the matter of national and individual productivity levels noted that in their opinion, the government’s Business Secretary’s plan for 2015 was not worthy of the name. That comment alone is hardly good news for any of us because, if we, individually and nationally are not highly productive in real terms when compared to our competitors, life for us all can only become more austere – and none of us wants that!

 

In “big-picture” terms, it appears clear that it has been “Politics” with that capital P that has failed both us local residents and the nation, over the past forty or more years. It is no use the grandees and members of the main parties each pointing their accusatory finger of blame at each of the others, for each in turn has had terms and opportunities at national government level and each has failed us.


The austerity programme that besets us now is something which should have been foreseen by those in power in Westminster at least as far back as the turn of the millennium, if not a few years before. That is because the measurable downward trend, in productivity levels, uncontrolled over-spending, both individually and nationally and in our perceived international reputation as a gilt-edged nation, has been there to be seen, ever since 1976 when the Wilson/Callaghan government decided to take the nation into borrowing 6% of GDP to balance the budget in order to finance its political aspirations. Never before had the UK borrowed money to balance its budget. However, since then, each successive government has increased the borrowings and kicked the can of corrective measures down the political road ahead of it, rather than bite-the-bullet and introduce the corrective measures necessary.


It is arguable whether it was quiet words from the Bank of England, or the IMF, or the embarrassment of having the international financial ratings agencies down-grade the UK from the AAA status, which had rightly been ours for many years, to AAB, which finally forced the present government into taking at least some corrective measures to hopefully reduce our present GDP borrowings which are at 91% of annual GDP.


Whatever the final straw was, it had to come.


Just how 2017 will work out for the majority of us in this great nation is difficult to predict. With the assorted uncertainties of Climate Change, the Brexit process, President Trump’s future policies, local elections and threats of fanatical religious terrorism extant, it will certainly be a lively one, in which all of us are likely to be called upon to play our part, greater or lesser.


In relation to our own local government elections, at both town and county levels, my greatest concern is that of a low turnout of voters, regardless of who the voting is for. There are strong voices urging that voting should, in future, be made compulsory, with penalties for those who fail, without good reason, to exercise their right to vote. If that compulsion to vote were ever to be brought in, I suspect there would be an awful lot of deliberately spoiled papers, unless of course, the authorities were wise enough to add, at the bottom of each candidate list, a box entitled “None of the above!”


Lots of crosses in such a box would certainly suggest to candidates that they were “off course” as it were in connecting with and gaining the interest and support of their local community. It is those last two words that drives my interest in hopefully continuing to represent Bistre East ward. “Local” and “Community”. If some un-thought-through decision out of Westminster or Cardiff or our town and county levels, clearly needs challenging, those of us who are truly independent members can make those challenges, without fear of being “whipped-in” or passed over later when opportunities for advancement and increased allowances might appear.


My wish for the forthcoming local elections is that ward members should feel sufficiently interested and engaged enough to please register their votes, remembering that, aside from a personal visit during the day to your local polling station, postal and proxy voting opportunities are available. Don’t miss out on them if you need them. If you have such a need, give me, or any other councillor a call or email, or visit the Flintshire Connects office at the Buckley Library. Provided that you make the request in good time, the appropriate arrangements to enable you to exercise your right to vote, in the manner most convenient to you, can be arranged.


Within the six-week campaigning period leading up to the 4th May, I shall be delivering briefer campaign leaflets, seeking your support once again. Meanwhile, if these occasional, longer newsletters of mine have helped to keep you better informed about local and more distant issues over the past few years, they will have been worthwhile.


2. Within The Ward:

There is sufficient activity of all sorts ongoing in the ward to keep both myself and my fellow independent county councillor for the ward, Cllr. Richard Jones, both busy. Both of us being members of the Independent Alliance Group helps us to work supportively alongside each other and, when needed, to put our combined thoughts, voices and efforts to best effect in getting problems solved and projects initiated.


(2a) Lane End
By the time you read this newsletter, work should be well under way on one of our combined efforts, that of providing more off-road car parking for the residents of the Prince of Wales flats complex at Lane End, where kerb-side parking pressures, the growing volume of traffic using the Chester Road/Brook Street junction and the needs of buses and heavy goods vehicle to turn safely have each combined to create accidents, congestion and the inconvenient re-routing of valued local bus services, because of safety issues.


When completed, that project will provide 14 additional car parking spaces, safely off-road. Following on from completion of that work residents will also see some alteration and improvements to the children’s play area there and the provision of some £20,000 worth of new items of equipment within that play area, made possible by your town council agreeing to a matched funding arrangement with FCC, whereby both parties will put up £10,000:00 each to cover the costs.
This newsletter provides an opportunity for both myself and Richard to say a great big thank you to local residents and those local councillors who have supported us, as well as FCC’s officers from assorted departments, all of whom have worked hard for a year or more to see both the parking and play area projects through to completion.


(2b) The Land Between Budgens and Manor Drive:
This piece of land, where our town’s new medical centre should have been built, had, until recently, three owners in various portions, Moore & Becket, Medical Centre Developments (London) Ltd and FCC. The majority holders being M&B and the London company, with FCC holding a slim ransom strip adjacent to the Manor Drive houses. Over the years, the town’s development plan has always reflected that the area should be held for retail/commercial development.


With the medical centre located elsewhere, the land has lain dis-used and neglected, to the stage where it has become rat-infested and in need of clearing; both of the verdant overgrowth and the vermin underground. Prompted by questions from Richard and from me, county officers issued the necessary orders, which of course provide time for action to be taken. No action appeared, other than a large board sited on the London company’s portion of the land, offering the property for sale for either residential or commercial development, so FCC proceeded towards legal action and a court order.


While all of this was going on, somewhat mysteriously, the dead body of a young male badger appeared on Jubilee Road, adjacent to the land in question. The find was reported to the police, to FCC and to the local badger protection group. That raised the possibility of the presence of urban-dwelling badgers on the land in question, in addition to the rat problem. Talk about complications!


At the end of November, somewhat to the surprise of both of us county councillors and many others, a Hymac machine arrived and commenced clearing a small area of the Medical Centres Developments London (Ltd) land, adjacent to Jubilee Road. To keep this short, it transpired that certain FCC Planning Department officers had been approached for “pre-application discussions” by Edwards Homes Ltd, of Connah’s Quay, who have bought the land from the London company and now wish to erect 14 houses on the property. Shortly after that information came to light, formal letters from the new owners arrived with me and with others, inviting discussions and steering us to inspect documentation lodged at Buckley Library.


If the development of that intended housing estate eradicates the rat infestation, all well and good, but as I write this, nobody has yet established whether or not there are badgers, a protected species, present on the land. If there is a badger sett there, matters become complicated, because rats need clearing, but badgers need protecting and nobody is permitted to build houses on top of a badger sett as far as I am aware.


2.(c) The Old Medical Centre Site:
Planning permission has now been given and the legal query over a wee bit of land’s rightful owner has been cleared. It is now up to Grwp Cynefin to get a move on and progress the project to completion, forthwith. 24 maisonettes will at least be of some benefit to the town.


2.(d) West View & Meg’s Lane:
(i) The damage to the young trees on the green square on West View, which was drawn to my attention by local residents, has been inspected by a Streetscene supervisor, who has agreed to arrange for protective bark wrappers to be fitted to each of the surviving trees prior to any grass-strimming work this year, in order to prevent any further damage. My thanks to those who drew the matter to my attention.


(ii) I was promised that the agreed additional dog-dirt collection bin, to be located on Meg’s Lane across from the junction with West View, would be in position for Christmas 2016. That target was missed, but it did appear early in the New Year, all ready for local residents who do walk their dogs in the area to make good use of it, so I am happy to say a “thank you” to the local residents who spoke up and the FCC officers involved.


2.(e) The Precinct:
The Precinct, its success and survival is important for the whole of the town. Regrettably, there has not been any improvement in occupancy since my last newsletter. The planning permissions that have been granted still stand, awaiting some activity from the owners.


We still have the reported promises and assurances that the entrance at the Precinct Car Park end will become the main entrance and that there will be significant changes to the portion that once housed Nice-Price and NatWest Bank. I have no doubt that the owners of the precinct, as shrewd business people, are doing all they can to attract retailers of national profile, with their need for larger units and willingness to agree to long-term leases. The arrival of a nationally recognised name would certainly increase the footfall within the precinct, which is exactly what is needed. That need to re-invigorate our local retail and commercial offer has not been helped at all by recent upward valuations of property in terms of business rates payable.


Just why and how our town has seen an upward pressure over rateable values when that cost burden on other towns, such as along the Deeside strip, appears to have stood still or reduced, has puzzled some of us councillors. Questions have been asked.
Given the recent business activity report which showed that new business start-ups in Wales fell by some 26% last year, it might be reasonable to have expected that the Labour Party administration in control of FCC would be taking steps to encourage new businesses and safeguard those already here. Sadly, the entire business regeneration team at FCC, all of them, apparently returned to work after the Christmas and New Year break to find 90-day redundancy warning notices waiting for them.

 

It seems that the latest idea out of the present Labour administration is to reduce the team to one single officer, to save another chunk of the annual wage bill. In my view, that is a very bad decision.

 

3. Around Buckley:

3(a) Budgens Store:
Ever since the store opened, townspeople have expressed concern over its ability to effectively compete with Aldi, just across the road. As this, my latest newsletter, is going to print, there is unconfirmed, but sadly credible information that the store will shortly close. If that closure happens, let us hope that a more keenly competitive brand of retail store fills the void, for competition is good for us consumers.


3(b) Parking Charges:
As you, dear reader, will hopefully be aware because of the newspaper and social media reports some weeks prior to Christmas, your town council forked out over £5,000 of ratepayers’ money to the county council, to keep Buckley’s car parks fee-free for the month of December. We believe that free parking is essential for the convenience of residents and the well-being of retail and commercial activity within and around the town. That we were proved right is self-evident from the comments of visitors, residents and traders.


3.(c) Community Speedwatch Activities:
I can confirm that we do have a CSW team operating in Buckley. I co-ordinate the activity and Cllr. Richard Jones is one of the trained team, which has grown to be seven in number. Our activities are part of a UK-wide effort to improve driving standards, correct anti-social driving habits and make our roads safer for everyone, whether they are motorists, pedal cyclists, or pedestrians, without imposing fines or slapping penalty points on licences. We only function on roads and in locations where residents have complained about excessive speeds, after each location has been inspected, approved of and registered by North Wales Police.


When operational, our job is to monitor, not enforce, adherence to or breach of the local speed limit, on roads which have 20, 30 or 40mph limits. We are a lot more friendly than the Go Safe vans, who will slap points on your licence and a fine, or an invitation to a driver awareness course, depending on speed detected, above a ten percent allowance. If, as a driver or motorcyclist, you do encounter a CSW team in high-viz jackets, pointing a radar gun at you and you are exceeding the local speed limit by a ten percent plus one mph limit, the team will record your speed, the date, time, location, registration number, make, model and colour of your vehicle. That data will then be checked through DVLA records. If the data recorded proves correct, which it does about 85% of the time, that information is then fed through to North Wales Police, who will follow it up to identify the driver at the time and location on record and serve that individual with a polite letter suggesting that they please try to be a more aware driver in future. Our process is painless as far as drivers’ pockets go, or points on their licences!


CSW activities are primarily designed to persuade drivers to be more obedient to speed limits, for road safety purposes. After four months of activity, we are beginning to reveal a picture of some 38% of local drivers exceeding the 10% plus one mph limit. The speeds on record are often significant. Perhaps the best one so far was the young gentleman driver who motored past us doing 49mph in a 30mph zone and then, some twenty minutes later, drove past us the other way, doing 40mph. We have also recorded a number of speeding vehicles lacking current tax, MOT and insurance cover. As for the personal behaviour of some of those behind steering wheels and handlebars, not wearing seat belts and/or listening to mobile phones are the least of the bad habits observed. We have seen ladies doing their make-up, gentlemen eating take-aways and both sexes driving along busily concentrating on smart-phones perched on their steering wheels, apparently sending/receiving texts, rather than concentrating on the road ahead. One individual was actually eating a pot-noodle as they speeded past us.


If you add that collection of misbehaviours when behind the wheels or handlebars of potentially lethal machines to the ever-growing number of drivers formally stopped and checked by uniformed police officers, who are being found unfit to drive through the presence of alcohol and drugs in their bloodstreams, it is a bit of a wonder that we are not having more accidents than current figures indicate.


If any reader of this newsletter fees like adding him or her- self to the local CSW team, do get in touch with me. Training is free, simple and painless. The time burden is as much or as little as you wish to offer, right down to a single hour per week, at times convenient to you.

 

As for me, the increase in erratic, poor and even illegal driving behaviour that I have witnessed over recent years has caused me to install a twin-directional camera recording system in my car, which comes into action automatically when I turn on the engine and holds up to four hours of recorded material, just in case I, or any other road user might need it.


3.(d) Future Policing Patterns:
Before Christmas, I sat in, as a member of the FCC’s Corporate Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee, when the new Crime and Police Commissioner for the region came along to explain how he sees policing patterns and priorities over the next few years and answer any questions. I followed that up by attending a public presentation in Mold, given by C/Insp Bowcot, responsible for community policing in this Division of the county. What I perceived from those two events, apart from the statistical fact that the force strength of NW Police has gone down, in ball-park figures, by some 10% in recent years and now sits at about 1420 rather than 1560 or so, is that the old style of regular, warranted officers being seen “on the beat” is dead, dusted and gone. The best we are likely to get is the occasional PCSO seen here and there and even on that score, C/Insp. Bowcot lamented that, as he was speaking, where he should have had 14 on his operational strength, he was down to 8.
Police forces across the UK and elsewhere, now have to put their priority efforts into such matters as the prevention of terrorist activities, organised drug smuggling and money laundering, the cross-border trafficking of minors and adults for purposes of vice and work slavery, as well as the prevention of domestic violence and, of course the incredible growth of cyber-based crime, from assorted scams to the sale of drugs via the internet.


It is of little or no use at all for us older ones to spend our time making comparisons and wailing over the loss of past policing patterns. We need to throw away the old mantle of growing old gracefully, in order to make our voices both heard and worth listening to by being progressive in outlook, by setting good examples by way of language, manners and socially acceptable habits and being unafraid to shop the criminal elements who wish to make profit from selling fraudulent cigarettes, sub-standard foodstuffs or duping our younger generations into believing that illegal drugs are some necessary and indeed beneficial part of a decent quality of life. On which particular topic, do take on board the item a few pages on.

 

3.(e) The Etna/Globe Way Refuse/Recycling Centre:
Our well-used local recycling facility at Globe Way closed on 8th January of this year to enable improvement work to be carried out before the end of March and the current financial year, at which time it will re-open, in an improved and more user-friendly shape. If you have not yet received one of FCC’s detailed information leaflets about what materials you can recycle and where to take them while we all wait for the Globe Way unit to be re-opened, please drop in to the Flintshire Connects office in the library and obtain a copy.


3.(f) Dog DNA Registration Proposals:
I did try! Honest I did! Taking note of the many, many complaints to me about dog-dirt on pavements and elsewhere, I put a formal Notice of Motion to county council in November of 2015. What I proposed was a detailed investigation of the problem, the health threat of canine toxicariaisis and options to bring in preventive measures, including that of a Dog DNA registration scheme to cover the whole county, at a cost of £3 per dog per year to owners. A small Task & Finish Group, of which I have been a member was created. The members of the group, ably assisted by our administrative facilitators and an assortment of officers, have put in many hours and many miles of effort aimed towards discovering how best your local authority can get it across to the small number of irresponsible dog-owners involved that they have a moral and ethical duty NOT to allow their pets to defecate on public green spaces or walkways, without clearing away the mess before heading off home.


On January 5th of this year, we held an afternoon workshop on the subject, open to all 70 county councillors. 25 attended. I was one of that number. That workshop was chaired by Cllr. Veronica Gaye, as chair of the Task and Finish Group. It looked at the options currently available, from the introduction of a pilot scheme requiring all dogs to be DNA registered, down to doing nothing.
The proposal to further consider bringing in a pilot scheme, requiring all dogs out in public within a specified area to be DNA registered, was turned down by a vote of 16 to 9. Other options which were supported included:- Dog exclusion orders on certain public open spaces, recreation areas and sports grounds; coloured paint marking of dog faeces; warning notices in dog fouling hot-spots; regulations that will make it a finable offence for dog walkers to be out and about with dogs without being in possession of bags suitable for use in clearing away dog faeces and the siting of multi-use refuse bins so as to assist dog walkers in legally disposing of cleared dog faeces without needing to cart it too far. Councillors present also supported the use of plain-clothed activities by our enforcement team members in dog-fouling hot-spots.


On Wednesday 11th January, the 15 councillor members of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny committee, of which I am not a member, also turned down the option for a pilot scheme relating to Dog DNA registration. They did however, endorse the implementation of the other preventive measures discussed at the workshop the week before. Councillors hope that the measures which will shortly come into force will be effective in greatly reducing, if not totally eradicating, the anti-social occurrence of dog-dirt fouling of our environment, which is the cause of more complaints to us councillors than any other single social issue.


3.(g) Buckley Old Swimming Baths Project:
The latest information to me from those who are engaged in this project advises that, with the £5,000:00 provided to them by the town council, insurance cover exists and an application for registration as a charitable enterprise has been lodged with the Charities Commission. That body has asked for some expert opinion on the historical/architectural worth of the building and its best long-term future. Formal registration and recognition of the enterprise as a purely charitable and not strictly commercial, for profit, activity will of course be essential to the opening of doors and pathways to finding the sizable sum of money needed if the aim of re-configuring the building to form a multi-purpose community facility is ever to be achieved.


All that those of us not directly involved can do is to wish the team well in their collective efforts to see to fruition this particular project which would preserve and utilise at least a small, visible, portion of the town’s history, of which all too much has been lost in past years.


3.(h) There Will Be A Fun Day Again This Year:
No details as yet, but, a promise that your town councillors and back-room staff are already planning another memorable day of good food, good entertainment and good company. Put a marker, please, on your nice new calendar for the current year, to keep Sunday, 21st May free so that you can attend and enjoy yourselves.


One item that caught my eye last year was the presence of the Quay Watermen with their Dee River trips. It intrigued me because of the clear indication that they could and would cater for people confined to a wheelchair. Having a friend who is in that category, my wife and I arranged to test the promotional blurb.


All I can say is that the trip exceeded expectations all round, delighted our wheelchair-bound friend and taught me a lot I did not know about our nearby waterway.

 

4. Further Afield:
We may regard the traditional African Witchdoctor as a bit of a joke, but, in all of my many years as a police officer in that continent, each and every one of those that I talked with said the same thing of cannabis, which grew there in proliferation. While they recognised that it had some limited benefit in certain circumstances in the short term, in the long term, usage of it, according to their observations, splits both the mind and the stomach. None of them used the substance themselves.


While I could easily equate the split minds with our recognition of schitzophrenia, the reference to “split stomachs” was something that I puzzled over, until very recently, when medical research revealed a clear link between long-term use of cannabis/marijuana and a recognisable and so-far apparently incurable stomach/bowel disorder, the prevalence of which is growing, along with the unfortunate growth of the use of drugs as a so-called recreational activity. Those who wish to take the soft option and legalise narcotics of all types might just take note of the following item, which I came across in January:-.


NEW YORK -- For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea. “The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.


The answer was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. It’s caused by heavy, long-term use of various forms of marijuana. (Cannabis to most of us!) For unclear reasons, the nausea and vomiting are relieved by hot showers or baths. “They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. He co-authored a study showing that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits diagnoses for CHS in two Colorado hospitals nearly doubled. In 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana.


“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”
Outside of Colorado, when patients do end up in an emergency room, the diagnosis is often missed. Partly because doctors don’t know about CHS, and partly because patients don’t want to admit to using a substance that’s illegal. CHS can lead to dehydration and kidney failure, but usually resolves within days of stopping drug use. That’s what happened with Crowder, who has been off all forms of marijuana for seven months. “Now all kinds of ambition has come back. I desire so much more in life and, at 37 years old, it’s a little late to do it, but better now than never,” he said.


It would seem that CHS has only been recognized for about the past decade, and nobody knows exactly how many people suffer from it. But as more states in the USA move towards the legalization of marijuana, emergency room physicians like Dr. Heard are eager to make sure both doctors and patients have CHS on their radar.


Over here in the UK, our NHS has sufficient stresses and strains on its systems already. Let’s hope that the nation keeps cannabis and the other, heavier drugs that cannabis use is a gateway to, just as they are now - illegal.


On that particular point, if any readers know of and have concerns about drugs being traded in the area and do not wish to link in to the available police channels, feel free to have a discreet and guaranteed confidential word with me. It might help to prevent some youngsters being started off on the road to a ruined life, or keep a few drug-impaired drivers from our roads, because narcotics impair judgement far worse than alcohol.


Which traffic thought brings me back to where I started a couple of pages ago. It is not only our world that goes around in circles!

 

6. “Brexit”:

It would seem to me that, were we to believe the continual utterings of assorted Europhile politicians and the sensationalist acres of printed media pages, last year’s UK referendum result is the cause of all of our nation’s ills, if not those of the entire world.
Not only that, but once Article 50 is triggered our UK trade and industrial activities will shrivel to the level whereby we shall become a third world nation and the current “Austerity” situation will be made to look like a period of comfortable living. What a load of tosh!


Assorted Europhiles keep trumpeting that the UK is the “supplicant” in this serious issue and that the other EU member states will make the UK pay a stiff price for daring to leave their dearly beloved “European Project” and the single market. That is another load of tosh, as is their much-trumpeted claim that the EU is our biggest trading partner and we need to remain in the single market, etc., for our own economic survival. That last claim is only correct if our trade with the entire EU block is taken as one single trade value, compared with the individual trade values we have with umpteen nations around the world. However, if we look at our total trade value with the EU, compared with our total trade value with the rest of the world, a far different picture emerges, as can be read in the pages of the House of Commons Library’s Briefing Paper No. 06091, dated 13th June, 2016, which reads, in part:-


“In 2015, the UK exported £223 billion of goods and services to other EU member states. This is equivalent to 43.7% of total UK exports. Goods and services imports from the EU were worth £291 billion (53.1% of the total) in 2015. The UK had a trade deficit of £68 billion with the EU in 2015 but a surplus of £31 billion with non-EU countries.”


Aside from the trade figures, there are other areas where they need us more than we need them, such as our military standing and our intelligence-gathering abilities, which are significant in the global scheme of things. In addition to those items, when it comes to families and workers, the latest factual information I can find, from Immigration-Watch, which borrows its figures from United Nations statistics, sets out that there are around 1.2 million UK born people living in another EU country, of which about 800,000 are actual workers and their dependents. That is much less than the best estimated figure of 3.3 million people born in another EU country who now live in the UK, of which some 2.1 million are actually working. Hopefully, neither side will wish to create iron curtains and mass expulsions. However, UK’s numerical control of immigration is essential.


It will take time and careful negotiations to see the UK free of the burdens, limitations and excesses of the EU, while making sure that we do not see any weakening of those sensible EU laws and regulations, such as those relating to equality, worker’s rights and the environment. However, in mid-January, the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, did go public with the comment that Europe needs to ensure that Brexit does not impair the EU’s essential working relationship with the City of London’s banking and financial services sector. A glimmer of realism at last perhaps?

 

This nation needs people at all levels who are positive thinkers, determined to get things done despite the difficulties, rather than those who throw their hands up in despair and claim that nothing can be done, because of the difficulties. Brexit can provide an opportunity for world-wide re-engagement by this nation. Let us get on and benefit from it!

7. The Will of the People?:

I wonder whatever happened to “Government of the people, for the people, by the people,” which is supposed to be the cornerstone of our allegedly democratic system here in the western world?


In the past several months there has been a groundswell, here and in the USA, of resentment against “The Establishment,” which includes politicians, financiers/bankers and oligarchs, all of whom, for far too long, have been busy building their own wealth and power-bases, rather than looking to spread the wealth more evenly around and make better the lives of ordinary citizens.


It is the strong representation of ordinary working-class people which is needed at government levels, if those governments are truly to be connected and concerned with those issues that are real at street level. Sadly, that appears to be lacking in this day and age, where millionaires and billionaires predominate at senior, decision-making, levels in many nations.


Over in the USA, Donald Trump claims to be a billionaire, while declining to publish any accurate and comprehensive corporate accounts. His “cabinet,” as it is presently appearing, is crammed with individuals whose known wealth is astronomical. The present total of their collective wealth/business interests, globally, has been reliably stated as some $14.7billion.


That may not be much compared to the USA’s total national debt of about $19.8 trillion, but, it makes that group of individuals, as a collective, wealthier than the annual income of at least 47 of the member states of the united nations.


Does anyone really believe that they, including Donald Trump himself, will really set aside completely their own personal business interests when dealing with national and international affairs? I leave you with your own thoughts on that matter.

 

If you have problems and need a word of advice, or support over the coming weeks, I am always at your service and available, on my home phone number of 01244 549421, or via email at arnoldwoolley@outlook.com or arnold.woolley@flintshire.gov.uk and my website is available at www.arnoldwoolley.com.


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