1. General

In this latest newsletter I am going to ask you to kindly start by reading through my update on local issues. That is those directly “in the faces of” Buckley residents, day by day, before moving on to a few regional, national and European issues, each of which is capable of affecting our individual and collective lives in serious ways, over long time-spans. Overall, my usual guidance still stands; make your way through these many pages in bite-sized chunks, please. Attempting it all in one go could cause indigestion of the eyeballs and brain, which I would not wish upon anyone!


2. What’s Going On in Buckley?

1) The Precinct:
One positive and very welcome occurrence has been the submission of a planning application, which I have supported, for extensions involving the now empty NicePrice, NatWest and one or two other premises within the Precinct. If those intended alterations create one larger unit which successfully attracts an established retailer of national, or even regional standing, it will be of the utmost benefit for both the Precinct itself and for the Town in general.
That clear, positive move is totally different to the matter of the long talked-about appearance of a Costa Coffee Shop in the vacant premises previously occupied by the Parish’s Vegetable and Flower shop. This particular development really has been an “on-off, will it or won’t it” item ever since it was first mentioned many months ago. The latest information circulating is that a ten year lease has been signed and alterations and actual development will start shortly. Those residents who enjoy the Costa brand can, hopefully, look forward to an official opening sometime after Easter.

Now that the dust of Aldi’s arrival in the town has settled, it is clear that the store itself is busy. Good luck to it. However, there has, as a matter of logic, been no sudden rise in household budgets, or rise in consumer needs of the population. So, what spend is now going into the new retail store is, logically, not going wherever it previously went. Aldi in Mold appears to have suffered somewhat, as have some local retailers in Buckley. All that can be done is to hope that the town does not lose any local retail entity because of the impact of Aldi.

2) Buckley Old Baths;
The three directors of the project have now established a formal limited company, opened a business bank account and applied for formal charitable status. On the evening of 23rd February, 2016, Buckley Town Council agreed to provide the money, ten thousand pounds, needed to carry out certain urgent repairs, help the directors obtain charitable status for the company and also to take out an insurance policy to safeguard the building in bricks and mortar terms and to cover public liability issues also.
That is very welcome news for all who wish to see the Old Baths Building successfully saved and, in time, re-configured into an attractive, multi-purpose community hall with a viable long-term future. It is also a clear gesture, showing that your town council is prepared to play a positive and supportive role alongside the directors of the project’s company.

That is not to say that the job is now all done and dusted. Far from it. There is a real need for local people with project management, fund-raising, architectural, construction and public relations skills to step forwards and volunteer to assist in what is, arguably, the most significant endeavour that any voluntary group in Buckley has ever undertaken.
Putting together a viable business plan, working with CADW, who clearly wish to see the building preserved and put to good community use and obtaining the serious total sum of money needed, has all yet to be done.

3) Community Asset Transfer Proposals:
As I have related in previous newsletters, Flintshire County Council is trying to offload the burden of running costs of assorted non-statutory services, from play areas to cemeteries. They are not the only top tier local authority doing that. However, they are only offering a 27 year lease proposal, not the freehold of any of the properties listed, which some other local authorities are offering. There are conversations ongoing between the county
council’s officers, the local football club, the bowling club, the cricket and boxing clubs and your town council as well. Keeping open such items as the cemetery, skateboard-park and the 11 play areas around the town, without massively increasing the town’s precept burden on residents’ pockets will not be easy. Neither will it be done as fast as the county council might wish it to be.

On the positive side, there appears to be no current threat of closure of the library or the leisure centre and new baths complex.


4) Barclays Bank:
As if the closure of the NatWest and HSBC banks was not enough, along with the downsizing and re-locating of the Post Office, we have now learned that our Barclays Bank branch intends to close its doors on the 21st of May, 2016, citing fewer customers through the door. That will leave us with only a branch of Lloyds Bank still located within the town. It may be a pain for us older folks and the business people handling real cash, but, coming along fast is a generation that uses only smart phones, tablets and laptop PCs. That generation wishes to do personal banking solely on-line.


Those of us who still wish to actually go into a local bank can opt to use the mobile NatWest bank, which appears alongside the town hall each Tuesday morning, or perhaps move our bank accounts to Lloyds. Only time will tell whether or not residents and business people have made that change in sufficient numbers to make Lloyds continuing physical presence in the town worth that company’s while.

5) Dog Fouling:
Although neighbour disputes, housing problems, parking issues and benefits concerns, plus a whole variety of other troubles too, do frequently provide cause for residents to complain to me and demand action, the most persistent and frequent complaint is that of the dog-fouling of our streets, play and recreational areas. Until recently, our anti-litter enforcement officers had to actually catch a dog and its owner in the act as it were before action could be taken. The irresponsible few were street wise and worked on the facts they would not get caught by officialdom and that their neighbours would not wish to go to court against them. Prosecutions were indeed few and far between.

All of that potentially changed when DNA technology became available and, more to the point, when the company able to do the dog DNA analysis opened up in Broughton. That enabled me to present my Notice of Motion to full council at the end of last year, to investigate the feasibility of establishing a county-wide dog DNA registration scheme. My Notice of Motion was widely supported. As a result, a task and finish group was created. I am a member of it. The group has now met four times and is working with interested partners to progress the proposals.

Our first aim is to convince the numerous reasonable and law-abiding dog owners that there are many benefits for them in participating in the scheme voluntarily and assuring them that costs to them will be kept to an absolute minimum. Current cost of the initial dog DNA sampling and registration is under £35 per dog Given the average lifetime of most well-cared-for canines, which is probably 10-12 years, that is not a huge annual amount. Our second aim is to convince the few anti-social, idle and lawless dog owners that within the foreseeable future, in terms of time-scale, there will be a 100% guarantee that they will be detected, tracked down and financially punished, substantially, if they fail to properly clean up after their dogs, or fail to dispose of cleaned-up dog dirt properly by binning it.


In our consulting so far, several people have asked what about dogs that are turned loose, morning, noon or night, to just “do their own thing” without an owner anywhere in sight? What about bagged dog dirt dumped where it should not be? The answer is simple. Eventually, all dogs will be required to be DNA sampled and registered. There will be a marker on each registered dog, visible or invisible, able to be electronically read. After a warning period with adequate publicity, Enforcement Officers will be empowered to impound unregistered dogs. Dog dirt left lying around, or bagged dog dirt thrown into gardens or stuffed into hedges or hung on trees, will be sampled and a link made, with enforcement following on from that.


If you have any strong views either way on this matter of dog DNA registration, do please contact me. My contact details are at the end of this newsletter. The Task & Finish Group needs your opinions, please.


6) Rats!
In recent months, I have been on the receiving end of several reports of the sighting of rats, in public places or on private land; a couple apparently at uncomfortably close quarters. The reports have originated throughout the ward, from Lane End to the Co-op car-park and Spon Green.

I can assure you all that we are not being over-run by the pesky rodents and that action has and is being taken by our Rodent Control Officer, Leslie Phillips, who is contactable by phone via 01352 701234 and our team of Environmental Health Officers.


They are all busy visiting locations where rats have been reported and sorting out the best way to deal with the unwanted creatures. One of the first hurdles they have to overcome is the issue of areas of land not owned by the council, but by absentee owners from individuals to companies, which have been left neglected, uncontrolled and overgrown for years. Legal ownership has to be established, which is sometimes not easy and those responsible tracked down, served with enforcement orders and made to clear and clean their properties so that the basic habitat that rats thrive within is no longer available to them. That all takes time and effort. Just one word of caution, if you require rats to be cleared by our FCC team, from your own garden or other land you own, there is a £25 charge if you are receiving certain benefits, or a £48 charge if you do not qualify for any benefit-related rebate.

7) The Closed and Sealed Brookhill & Standard Landfill Sites:
Planning Applications are proceeding for a 400kw solar array on the Brookhill Site and a 645kw solar array at the Standard Site. For those of us in the community who welcome any move away from coal, oil and gas-powered energy sources that is good news indeed.

8) A Positive Item on the Horizon:
The “doom, gloom and bad-mouth-Buckley brigade,” all of which our town seems to have a good supply of, may not like to hear it, but, although certain confidentialities and commercial sensitivities bar me from providing much detail, FCC’s planning officers are engaged in serious pre-planning discussions with a respected trading company, looking for a suitable site in our town. You may take it that those of us who have any say, sway or legitimate influence, will be doing all we can to encourage and nurture that promising seed of interest to grow, until it develops strong roots and bursts into full flower. By the time you read this, the name and site might be published!



3. Welsh Local Government – Re-organisation Proposals:

I doubt there is a single person in Wales who is not aware that we are heading for the next Assembly level elections early in May. Ministers and Members have suddenly started dashing here and there, announcing developments of one kind and another and raising their party and personal profiles in the media at large.


While I certainly shall use my vote and urge you to do the same, because the voice of the electorate needs to be heard and taken notice of, it is the parallel movement towards a proposed Local Government Re-organisation that I wish to concentrate on telling you about here.


It might have skipped your notice, but, our present Wales Government has already started on the legislative process needed to reduce the number of County and County Borough Councils from the present 22 down to 8 or 9, with a probable halving of the number of councillors at that level. The final number of first tier councils depends upon whether we in North Wales see a re-emergence of the original Clwyd and Gwynedd Local Authorities, or end up with Anglesey/Gwynedd, Conwy/Denbighshire and Flintshire/Wrexham.


White Papers and Bills appeared in 2015 and a nationwide consultation was commenced last November, which ended on the 15th February, 2016. I attended the formal consultation day event for councillors, held at Llandudno on 4th February, 2016.
My concern is that ordinary residents are not aware of what is intended below the 8 or 9 first tier councils, should there be no change of political direction in May.


At the top level, in each local authority area, Local Service Boards have existed since 2008. They are not statutory boards, but simply a voluntary arrangement. Those boards meet quarterly, when senior representatives of those agencies and organisations delivering public services in the county or county borough, such as Local Government, Police, Ambulance, Fire & Rescue, Health Board and so forth, get together to try to co-ordinate projects and to make sure individual forward work arrangements do not conflict. The LSBs consult for the purpose of better communication, service delivery, mutual support and best value for money for the public pennies in the interests of the community. Having attended the Flintshire LSB meetings between 2008 and 2012, the work undertaken is all good stuff, believe me!

Presently, the LSB oversees the Single Integrated Plan (SIP) for the county, which focuses on the two themes of:-
* People enjoying good health, well-being and independence.
*People are safe

What I heard at Llandudno was that under the proposed shape of things to come, in accordance with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, from 1st April, 2016, the present LSB partnerships will cease to exist. In each county, they will be replaced by a statutory body, in our case Flintshire Public Services Board. That body will have a statutory duty to produce, by March, 2017, an Assessment of Local Well-being and, by March, 2018, a Local Well-being Plan, which will replace the SIP I mentioned above.

Interestingly, from the information provided by the facilitator in Llandudno on 4th February, each new PSB will also be charged with creating a number of Area Interest Committees. These areas appear to be based upon “communities,” with the number of those depending upon how many “communities” each PSB identifies within its own area of involvement. If I understood the presentation correctly, such “communities” might take in several rural wards, or a town, or a geographic area, or even a “community of interests.” Size or number of seats upon those committees not yet firmly set.


The thinking appears to be that one or more county councillor will sit on each of those Community Interest Committees. Just how any ordinary resident might be selected, appointed, or elected appears not yet to have been considered. Whether private enterprise, retail associations, voluntary organisations or non-public corporations will be represented has not yet been resolved. At what level the Community Interest Committee would connect with their County Authority, (councillor, overview and scrutiny committee, Cabinet or Full Council) seems not yet to have been considered.

The purpose of these committees would appear to be to take on certain “Functions” presently undertaken by the county councils. (Through willing volunteers of course!) and to put forward to the county authority, once a year, prior to county budget setting time, a prioritised wish-list of works, projects and improvements that these committees somehow establish that their community wants or needs. How these entities are to be funded and administered seems not yet to have been thought much about. How often they will need to meet has yet to be considered. Certainly, those several of us who asked detailed questions at Llandudno on 4th February, received nothing by way of satisfactory answers to our numerous questions.

To me, it seems to be an attempt to re-invent David Cameron’s “Big Society” dream of some years back. That fell flat and, according to the two-hundred or more people at the consultation event in Llandudno, so will this present proposal. What was very clear to us all and much protested about and objected to, was that if this proposal goes ahead, it will set up yet another level of bureaucracy in Wales, with time, cost and effort involved. Not only that, but where does this seemingly un-necessary, additional layer of public engagement really sit? It seems to replicate, duplicate and potentially clash with Town, Community and Parish Council activities, about which, please read on, because those representational bodies are due for a monumental shake-up, should present proposals actually come to pass.

In respect of Town, Community and Parish levels, should the present proposals go ahead and the new shape become established, perhaps by 2020 at the earliest, the purpose of the present Wales Government is to rationalise them, with the intention of creating “Activist” Councils. No present definition of that word, but we were informed that the wish at WAG level is to make these re-shaped town and community councils more activity/decision centred, rather than being mostly discussion/advice orientated.

Presently, there are 735 Town and Community Councils within Wales. In total there are around 8000 town and community councillors, representing the interests of the wards and communities they serve. Statistically, they cover something close to 94% of the land area and 70% of the population (Yes, you did work it out correctly. That does leave 6% of the land area and 30% of the population currently not covered by this closest level of local government representation.) However, the communities presently covered vary from small rural ones to large towns and their budgets range accordingly. Of more concern is the fact that many of the smaller councils, some with as few as 8 members and even some larger ones, have not had actual elective contests for years. Sitting members are returned each time, uncontested and, in order to fill the proper number of councillor places required, co-opted members are numerous. Fortunately, Buckley has had healthily contested elections for at least the last quarter century or so.

It is that number and diversity that the WAG appears to wish to dispose of. To achieve the change, a Boundary Commission is now in existence, charged with examining current arrangements. Its remit appears to be to propose the creation of fewer, larger and “more active” councils, by clustering, eliminating or amalgamating present councils. Thus, theoretically, Buckley’s Council might end up covering Penyffordd and Argoed. Mold might subsume Gwernafield and Leeswood. Such newly expanded councils would, in the forward thinking of the WAG, hopefully gain the right to take on, take over, or have delegated down to them, certain services and functions currently delivered by county councils. In addition those new councils would be able to aspire to gain a General Power of Competence or Chartered Status.


That status would be obtained by:- 1) Employing a qualified Clerk, (It has not been specified what particular qualification, but probably CIPFA, SILCA or such). 2) Presenting unqualified accounts for two consecutive years (Meaning that your Auditor has not found any major fault). 3) Having at least two-thirds of sitting members actually elected, not co-opted and, 4) Making a request for the upgrade. That enhanced status would mean in real terms that such a council would then be able to undertake anything within its resource ability that it was lawful for it to do. Think in terms of Rubbish Collection and Recycling, Litter and Dog Fouling prevention, Street Lighting, running any Flintshire Connects Offices and perhaps even minor road re-surfacing and repair work, to suggest but a few.

What was made clear was that there would be increased responsibility, but not any guarantee of increased authority and certainly no additional funding to accommodate what would be a larger administrative staff, greater workforce numbers and the collective pension liabilities arriving with the larger workforce. What was also pointed out to us, which most of us knew anyway, was that, unlike county level, where an annual limit of a 5% increase in community charge exists, there is no such cap at Town and Community level. From that, any increased Town Council cost-line could, according to the intimation from above, be covered by increased contributions from local residents. As I and others pointed out, this proposed Local Government Re-Organisation appears to be largely aimed at passing functions and services downwards to unpaid volunteers and picking the pockets of working people and fixed income pensioners in order to pay for those things. To me, that is Double Rating, which must not be allowed to happen.


4. EU Membership – The “In-Out” Referendum Question:

Three years back, David Cameron was under strong pressure from growing public support for UKIP, whose clear “Let’s get out of the EU” clarion call found a strong resonance in the hearts and minds of many UK voters. Conservative voter support was bleeding away. So, quite fairly and a little cleverly, Mr. Cameron came up with his manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the subject of in or out of the EU. In 2013, when he opened his campaign for reform of the EU, although he spoke warmly of the benefits of being within the free trade area that was agreed to by UK voters in 1975, he stated his wish to get significant reforms relating to a list of topics.


There never was any precision about his full list, some elements of which still remain rather cloudy, if not downright secretive. However, in general they related to such matters as the working time directive, control of our own VAT levels, Control of Immigration, Eligibility for Welfare Benefits, our contribution to the Common Agricultural Policy, our own right to decide support levels for industry, the supremacy of our own national judicial system, matters of human rights versus democratic process and guarantees that the 19 Eurozone Members would not gang up on the UK and other non-Euro nations to exclude us all from the single market, to name but a few. He spoke as if he meant what he said and that if he achieved those several reforms, or at least his four fundamental demands, he would hold an “In – Out” referendum, on the basis that the “reformed” EU would be worth staying within.


My greatest concern is that UK voters are being bombarded with lots of Party Political and Media hype, but few genuine facts.
Mr. Cameron’s four “Fundamental Reforms” were:
Objective one: protect access to the single market for Britain and others who are outside of the Eurozone, i.e., not using the Euro as their national currency.
What I am picking up from published articles and some insider gossip is that UK Ministers’ biggest fear about the EU appears to be that the 19 countries that have the euro as their national currency might well use their majority in the existing 28-member EU to change the present rules, to the detriment of non-euro nations such as Britain, especially on the financial regulations that are vital to the prosperity of the City of London.
Mainly opposed by France, this one ended up in a fudged deal that falls far short of multi-currency union. The agreement on 19th February was instead a far more limited acknowledgement that the UK has a special exemption from Euro membership. That gives no safeguards to the City of London for its future.

Objective two: write competitiveness into the very DNA of the whole of the membership of the European Union.
This one seems to be the easiest target to hit, not least because it is relatively nebulous. It is also an area where Britain has considerable support from reform-minded northern European nations, especially the Netherlands. The European Commission and its powerful vice-president, Frans Timmermans, appear also committed to reducing red tape on European businesses. Given that, it is not surprising that this objective was largely achieved on 19th February

Objective three: exempt Britain from an “ever closer union” – and bolster national parliaments.
UK Ministers insist those three words, from the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome, are not just symbolic, as others have suggested, but that they have been used to justify EU policies and laws that have reduced the ability of
our MPs at Westminster to set even the internal laws for the UK. What Mr. Cameron sought for the UK was a binding legal exemption from “ever closer union.”

Some agreement here was quite likely, partly because certain other European Ministers regard this as a question of symbolism not substance. But Ministers privately admit that meeting the demand of some Conservative MPs, to give Parliament at Westminster a veto over all EU rules, is effectively impossible.
Unsurprisingly, what appeared on 19th February was far from what Mr. Cameron wanted. The “deal” as such sets out that the opt-out on ever-closer-union and the economic governance section will be incorporated into the treaties when those treaties are revised at some so far undisclosed future date.
As if that was not a grand example of kicking the can down the road, the migrant benefit reforms Mr. Cameron sought, (See


Objective four below: within this section, are not covered by treaty change, leaving them vulnerable to being torn apart by European Court Judges, some years after the all-important referendum result is known.
Objective four: tackle abuses of the right to free movement and enable the UK to control migration from the European Union, in line with the Conservative Party Manifesto.

This is the issue that appears to matter most for UK voters and the one where it is hardest to meet their expectations. Despite hints from ministers such as Theresa May, about controlling numbers of EU immigrants who enter the UK, that is not what David Cameron has been negotiating about. Instead, he has sought agreement to limit such nationals’ right to claim Welfare Benefits, requiring them to work for four years before being eligible for child benefit, tax credits or council housing. Agreement on this request, as it stood, was unlikely.


In the end, what he came back with was far from what he originally set out to get and far, far, from what we, the UK people, are largely concerned with, which is not wishing to see our small, crowded island becoming far too crowded for comfort, or affordability, all round.

Mr. Cameron certainly succeeded in convincing many wavering Conservatives and others, that he was serious about those several issues and, in particular, his four fundamental reforms. However, his original promise to “renegotiate vigorously” across the whole range of those several serious issues appears to have evaporated. Even his basic four demands have become that much watered-down as to be worthless. The more air miles he has clocked up in his rushing around assorted European capitals, the more his original list of issues requiring renegotiation has dwindled; to the point where it has become almost solely a degree of bargaining over welfare rights of immigrants.


Even on that single issue, all he appears to have gained is some sort of concession to be allowed to ask the other nations of the EU for permission to withhold such welfare benefits, for a limited period of time; if he can prove that our welfare system is overly burdened at whatever time he makes the case.

He claims success in his negotiations for a reformed EU based on other so-called concessions, where no concessions exist. Having to seek approval from the EU membership of 28 disparate nations and obtain agreement from 55% of their number, which is what he has come back with, seems to be a worthless concession, because failure to gain that level of agreement, each time we in the UK might find good cause to ask for it, will leave us inevitably having to go meekly along with whatever we did not wish to go along with and were protesting about anyway. Surely, that is no great achievement?
However, it is perhaps a mechanism that allows David Cameron to trumpet some success. In reality, if UK voters go along with that and vote to stay in, it merely holds us as hostages to future decisions of the EU, which, as I presently see it, is precisely the issue that started this whole “In-Out” argument some three years or more ago.

Whether you believe that the UK will be better off, or worse off, if the vote is for leaving the EU, the fact that the prime minister of the nation that is fifth largest in global economic terms, with the fourth largest army and an established, world-wide, trading pattern, as well as being a significant European nation, has been seen meekly accepting some remnant of his original demands, some crumbs of doubtful concession, from such an organisation as the EU is belittling to both him and everyone else in the UK.

As for those whose clarion call is for ever closer union and for the UK to be a meekly supportive and willing member of the United States of Europe, with their prophesies of doom and collapse if we vote to pull out, they seem to be the same voices that screamed the scare-mongering stories that Great Britain was doomed if we left the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism) in 1992 and demanded that we join the Euro-zone then and there. Fortunately, we left the ERM and avoided the Euro. Having done so, the UK did not fall apart as they predicted.

What, you may ask, has that got to do with Buckley and Bistre East ward? My answer to that is, everything! Because it is the EU Parliament, directed by its twenty-eight commissioners that presently decides our national annual contribution to the EU budget, a nett £10.4Billion this year, our working hours, our VAT level and other impacts on our society and culture, down to matters of prison inmates and their right to vote while incarcerated.

4. Corporate Bullying(1):
I am one of those who has concerns about the EU, with its repeated annual inability to accurately account for all of its funds for starters. However, I do not claim that the EU’s assorted decisions have all been bad. One of the decisions I did approve of was the one, reached in 2001, that put a moratorium on planting and growing of Genetically Modified Crops. That wise decision of the EU and the regulations that flowed from it have long been a thorn in the global biotech industry's side.

Ominously, there are now appearing, ready for distribution, further varieties of GM plants. Those professional lobbyists who are bought, sold and owned by the big pharmaceutical companies, are busy clamouring for changes to the current definition of Genetically Modified Organisms. They are demanding that these new GMOs and the new techniques that have produced them, should be specifically excluded from the current regulations. This goes alongside ongoing industry attacks on the application of the precautionary principle – the basis of EU GM regulations – to novel food production techniques.

These new genetic engineering techniques, which have emerged since Europe’s GMO law was introduced in 2001, are currently being applied by profit-hungry developers to food crops, trees, farm animals and even insects. If the industry’s lobby campaign is successful, new GM organisms and foods – produced by techniques including oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM), agroinfiltration and zinc finger nuclease technology (ZFN) - could enter the environment and the food chain, shortly, untested, untraceable and unlabeled.

Dozens of patents have already been filed in this field by the big agrochemical corporations like Bayer, BASF, Dow Agrosciences and Monsanto. Due to the widespread consumer rejection of GMOs, which brought about the original moratorium regulations, invisibility is vital for the commercial success of any new genetically engineered product in Europe. These giant corporations, turning over £Billions annually, seem to care not one whit for the good health of people, or the biodiversity of the natural environment. The unregulated mass release and growth of these latest GMOs could however have far-reaching consequences for the environment, human and animal food safety and consumer choice. Calls from farmers and environmental groups to regulate these new genetically modified organisms are increasing. The techniques in question each bring their own set of risks and uncertainties. Technical reports and legal analyses by government bodies and NGOs have concluded that GM 2.0 should not escape the EU GM regulations. That is because while some of the known risks are similar to those associated with GM1.0 organisms, there are also serious additional concerns about the GM2.0 lines.

To further its cause, industry has set up a dedicated, EU-level lobbying vehicle – the New Breeding Techniques Platform – with the mission of having as many of the new GM techniques as possible excluded from EU GM regulations. This platform is run by Schuttelaar & Partners, a Dutch lobby and PR firm with an interestingly questionable reputation for pro-GM lobbying. At the same time, individual companies have been pressing various European governments to clarify the legal status of the new genetic engineering techniques, while announcing plans to field-trial them in those countries. Furthermore, certain governments, the Netherlands being one of them, have been actively advocating the deregulation of new GM techniques at the EU level.

The ongoing negotiations around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which I am firmly against and have spoken out publicly upon, are an additional source of political pressure on European decision makers. In this context, industry lobby groups have presented the regulation of new GM techniques as a trade inhibition concern to both US and EU government officials. They claim that the innovative nature and competitiveness of the European plant breeding (read: biotech) sector is at stake and warn against any trade-inhibiting regulations being created. If such were to be introduced, lawsuits under the insidious Investor-Supplier Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Agreement would surely follow, with the likelihood of millions of £s or Euros of compensation being extracted, if not extorted, from the public purse.

5. Corporate Bullying (2):
There is little doubt that avoiding catastrophic climate change is the most pressing need and possibly the defining challenge of our time. If we are to have even a reasonable chance of preventing extremely dangerous levels of global warming, much of the world's fossil fuels, upon which our past global industrialisation has so far depended - oil, coal and gas - must be left in the ground, unexploited for profit.

It is clear to all thoughtful, well-informed individuals that each of our diverse advanced cultures, world-wide, needs to move to energy networks based on renewable sources like sun, wind and water. This colossal change will require strong action from public authorities. But their ability to introduce the right laws and regulations is severely constrained by a little-known but very powerful legal system, called ISDS. This international investment regime has ensnared many countries in its legal nets in the last decades, taking huge sums of tax-payers’ cash out of public treasuries in “compensation” for purely theoretical loss of trading income and predicted profit.


A growing number of recent investor-state lawsuits, across the world, have targeted government initiatives in the energy sector, ranging from the phase out of nuclear power to moratoria on environmentally-risky shale gas development ('fracking'). As law firms make money each time that an investor or supplier sues a state, this encourages more and more corporate lawsuits: for example, over legislation controlling the energy sector.

Despite the evident risk to energy transition, even more trade and investment deals are in the pipeline. Each will empower corporations to challenge strong government action on climate change. Amongst them is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently still under negotiation between the EU and the US, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, for which ratification could start later in 2016. Just recently and in the face of many protests, another such agreement has been put in place covering the USA, Canada and much of the Pacific Region.


Regrettably, corporate bullying, of individuals, through to governments and on to international organisations, is nothing new. Richard C. Korten wrote a non-fictional book called “When Corporations Rule the World” way back in 1995. It is worth reading.


6. Cop This Please:

There is no epidemic of burglaries in Buckley. However, burglaries do occur, so it is up to each of us, as responsible householders, not to make life easy for actual or would-be burglars. To give us a helping hand, North Wales Police, under their strapline of “CRIME – together we’ll crack it” are offering advice to householders, by way of leaflets, free crime prevention packs and on-site security surveys. If you have any concerns that your house might be a target in days to come, set your mind at ease by getting in touch with the Eastern Community Safety Unit by phone on 01978 348197, or by their email, which is easterncommsafety@nthwales.pnn.police.uk, to talk through your concerns and perhaps arrange for them to visit you at your home, shop or business premises. There is no charge for the service!

Do remember that it is not only the loss of cash, valuables and tradable property that hits hard at burglary victims. It is also the personal sense of violation, caused by finding clothing, personal effects, files, books and records ransacked and strewn thither and yon that lingers long after any insurance cover has paid up. Nobody needs that kind of mental upset. Pick up the phone, send that email and do whatever you can to keep the burglars out!

In addition, to stop Burglar Bill from adding insult to injury by riding away on you expensive pedal cycle, or even your motability scooter, please remember that the police offer invisible marking of those items, so that, should they be stolen, there is every chance of eventually getting them back.

Going one step further on that peace of mind theme, the service has available a “Temporary Unoccupied Premises” form that you can fill in and submit before going on holiday or off to visit relatives for a few days. The effect will be that your property will be randomly checked upon by police during your absence. Those forms are available from North Wales Police on 01745 588776, or by email at lpscommsafety@nthwales.pnn.police.uk, so please give a thought to that before heading off or up, up and away.


7. Affordable Warmth.

If you are spending more than you like, or can afford, on keeping warm and producing your hot meals, you really should be having a friendly but serious talk with Steve Woosey. He is the operations manager for the North Wales Energy Advice Centre and he really knows his stuff. The centre is anxious to make better known its “Affordable Warmth” programme, aimed at
supporting Older People and vulnerable households in Flintshire. The NWEAC is located in Mold, so Steve is not that far away. If you give him a phone call on 01352 876041, or email him at steve@nweeac.org.uk (note the double e bit!) he will be only too pleased to visit you, armed with an engaging smile and loads of experience and advice, all aimed at keeping you comfortable and healthy in your home and, as a bonus, saving you money too.


8. The EU and “Bail-In” Regulations.

On January 1st, 2016, depositor “bail-in” regulations came into effect right across the EU. Rather like the ongoing TTIP negotiations, you will hear little or nothing of this on the BBC, but I am sure there will be some readers who will need to take note of these new regulations in order to safeguard savings, investments and assets.

Bail-in was one of four resolution tools prescribed by Europe’s Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) which came into effect on 1st January, 2015. That Directive, which somehow escaped much, if any media attention, established a single rulebook for the resolution of banks and large Investment-firm failures in all EU member states. Member states had the option
of adopting bail-in at that date, but they agreed that it would apply, regardless, to all members as of 1st January, 2016. In fact, all members were required to have ratified and implemented the bail-in regulations by October, 2015. Certain countries have not yet done so and those few are actually being taken to the European Court of Justice by the EU for that failure.
In essence, bail-in is designed to prevent any single “too-big-to-fail” bank collapsing and setting off a chain-reaction meltdown within the US$2 Quadrillion global derivatives bubble.

It is also designed to enable governments to avoid the situation that the UK saw, following the 2008 financial problems, whereby Government used taxpayers’ money to stump up vast sums of cash to save a failing bank, which proved to be very unpopular politically. Instead, if any bank now fails, it will be the deposits and investments of ordinary customers that will be attached (stolen?) first – bailed-in to reduce the liabilities of the bank. “The exact degree of burden-sharing would depend upon the bank losses that would need to be covered and the wider economic situation.”

A European Parliament press release in 2013 stated that in the case of any future bank failure, it would be the “shareholders and bond holders” who will take the first big hits and that “Unsecured depositors (Over 100,000 Euros)” would be effected last. It did offer assurances that “smaller depositors” would be expressly excluded from any bail-in activity. However, that was not what happened when the Italian Banca Etruria, one of four Italian banks that failed at the same time, was bailed-in on 28th November, 2015. One unfortunate elderly customer, who lost 110,000 Euros, committed suicide, leaving behind a letter accusing his bank of stealing all of his life savings, after previously being advised that certain “subordinated bonds” sold to him were safe.

The UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which has no parallel in Italy, advises:- “From 1 January 2016, the deposit compensation limit is £75,000. Depositors may still receive a share of their savings above this limit following any distribution of assets as part of the insolvency process for a failed bank. This would be a matter for the insolvency practitioner to determine and any recovery would, by necessity, vary according to the circumstances of the specific failure….”

In view of experiences in Italy, where over 100,000 shareholders and junior bond holders lost money and in view of the present uncertainty, indeed volatility, of the world trade and financial affairs, let alone the present argy-bargy about whether or not our own or the EU courts have supremacy here in the UK, my recommendation is that it is wise to double-check that whatever you have, wherever it is lodged, it is safely clear of any future bail-in activity arising anywhere within the EU.

Please remember folks that I am here to keep you well informed and to help you if you have problems. My phone is never off the hook and my email is always available for your use:-

(01244) 549421 and arnooldwoolley@outlook.com


Back to top


Home | News | Biography | Independant Alliance | News | Contact Arnold Woolley | Site Map | Local Affairs | Useful Links