Previous Newsletters

A Taste of Honey, or a Waste of Money? (Autumn 2005)

A Honeypot for Some, A Heartache for Others (November 2006)

Mighty Mouse or Mickey Mouse (Autumn 2007)

An Open Door or a Closed Book (December 2007)

Goodness Gracious Me (July 2008)

A going Concern or a Gone Goose (August 2008)

Ahead of the Game or Head in the Sand? (Summer 2009)

Incomparable or in Chaos (August 2010)

Rough Waters Ahead, Safe Harbour Beyond (November 2010)

Awesome or awful? Only Time Will Tell (March, 2011)

An Open Door or a Closed Book (June 2011) (July 2011)
Careful Collaborators or Complete Charleys? (November, 2011)

Safe Hands or Butterfingers? (March 2012)

Short on Cash or Short on Courage? (November 2012)

A Small Cog? or a Big Wheel? (May 2013)

Up for it? Or Past It? (November 2013)

September 2014

Buckley, Flintshire and Beyond (December 2014)

April 2015

August 2015

December 2015

March 2016

Agile? or Fragile? Time will Tell!! (August 2016)

November 2016

1. General:

By the time you are reading this latest newsletter from me, Halloween and Guy Fawkes nights will just be memories for this year. Pleasant ones I hope. Now we can look forward to the joys and delights of Christmas and the New Year. You will have to forgive me if I refuse to adopt the ubiquitous phrase “Festive Season,” for fear that somebody who gets hold of a copy of my newsletter might take exception to the reference to the clearly Christian festival.

 

Many of us in the local and greater community take no offence when we read of Passover, Ramadan, Dewali or the Hadj and neither should any reasonable member of our variegated society. Sadly, it would seem to be unacceptable to a few that we many should wish to live peacefully side-by-side, in understanding and tolerance, rather than indulge in perpetual conflict and bloodshed. Thankfully, those few are just that, a few. We, the majority, need to ensure that we are all good neighbours to each other, regardless of colour, creed or ancestry and take every step we can to make sure that no fanatics, of any brand, find hiding places or favour within our society.

 

2. Let’s Start Local:

Buckley is not dead! It is not even dying!! So I have to ask readers the question, “Why are so many local residents, particularly those addicted to what is now generally called the social media, trying to bury it?” I suspect that a lot of the detractors have news editor blood in their veins. After all, the only “news” that ever gets broadcast by the assorted mass media is the stuff of doom, gloom, despondency and disaster. According to the newsrooms, nothing good ever happens. No such thing as good news. No happy endings, nobody making a success of anything, anywhere. An interesting characteristic about the local detractors seems to be that, according to those who monitor such media and I am not one of those, hardly a single one of them has ever contributed anything positive for the good of the town, especially a bit of time and effort.


What Buckley is doing is to evolve. Inevitably, evolving means changing. Not because we wish to perhaps, but because we have to, for the whole world is changing around us and we need to keep pace with it. Not a comfortable feeling perhaps for the older members of our community: Those who remember when Lane End was the centre of Buckley’s universe, with dozens of shops between Brook Street and Daisy Hill and the collieries, brickworks and potteries were all up and running. Those of course were the days when Buckley’s working people, male and female, could walk to work, because the work-place was in town or close by. All of that is now history. Honour, respect and treasure it, but, please don’t try to live in it, because it is no longer there.


According to some sources, next year it will be 75 years since the last pot was thrown in a local commercial pottery and local residents need to remember that the last brickworks in Buckley, which was at Lane End: closed in 2003. Just as a reminder for those unaware of its history, it had been established in 1792 by John Rigby and William Hancock. In 1956 it became the property of the Castle Firebrick Company who also took over several of the other local brickworks. The Butterley company took it over in 1971 although, at its closure, announced in February 2003, it was owned by Hansons. It had been one of the biggest and earliest in the area, and was the last one in Buckley to close. The last chimney in Buckley was demolished at Lane End Brickworks on the morning of Friday 26th November 2004.

 

That marked the end of a 250-year era of robust and prosperous industry for the town. Similarly so for the coal mining industry, which thrived for many a year. After centuries of working, starting as surface activities, the last real colliery in Buckley closed before WWII started. Despite all of that, Buckley has grown from a population of 14,569 in the 2001 Census to 15,665 in 2011 and, if you care to believe it, a current 19,639 according to Wikimedia. Greater population growth is planned for. The battle for us councillors is to ensure that the ward and town infrastructure keeps pace with the growth of population.

 

To achieve that, we need the combined best efforts of town and county councillors, developers, planners and entrepreneurs, aided by expertise from County Council and from the WAG, to say nothing of any necessary funding needs. The obtaining of agreement among that diverse range of persons and interests gets to be no easy task. Throw in the need to comply with all of the current rules and regulations governing any major development, which inevitably creates delays and readers might gain the realisation as to why whatever does happen seldom happens quickly.

 

2.(a) The Old Medical Centre Site:

Numerous residents have asked me what, if anything, is happening with the old Padeswood Road/Precinct Medical Centre site. The simple answer is that, as reported in my last newsletter, the plans for a couple of dozen maisonettes, submitted by the social housing organisation called Grwp Cynefin, were approved months back and were only waiting for agreement on Section 106 monies. I am glad to say that, on that item, agreement was reached. However, an unforeseen snag has cropped up. Of the whole area of land involved, which we all thought was totally owned by the Betsi Health Trust, it seems that the legal searches have thrown up that a few dozen square metres of the intended land area are not owned by the Betsi Heath Trust. In fact, so the story goes, nobody seems to know for sure exactly who does own that oddment of land. It could just be a Crown Estate item. Until the legal people have sorted out that snag, which we all hope will be a temporary one, there will be no attempt to develop the site according to the approved plans.

 

2.(b) The Etna/Globe Way Refuse/Recycling Centre:

I am more than happy to be able to report that I have seen the plans for the proposed new layout of the existing site. The Wales Government appears unwilling to agree to any enlargement of the existing footprint of the site, but has agreed to a fresh layout, which will separate the cars of residents who are delivering material to the site, from the heavy goods vehicles moving the skips to, from and within the site. The heavy vehicles will enter and leave the site via a further gateway at existing road level, which will be positioned between the present “in” and “out” gates.

 

After the proposed re-design work has been completed, targeted for the end of March of 2017, incoming private vehicles will enter where the present “in” gate is and drive up a ramp which will put them at a higher level than the assorted empty skips. Materials from the vehicles will be able to be thrown down into whichever skip is appropriate, thus doing away with any need for clambering up and down rickety metal steps, which is a bugbear at the site as it presently is. Once any refuse material or recyclate has been put into the appropriate skip, the cars will continue on along a one-way route which will take them back down to road level and out about where the present “out” gate now is.


Ward residents please be warned and take note that although the WAG has provided £1Million for the re-development of the sites in Buckley and Nercwys, that cash has to be spent before the end of March of 2017. Because of that, the contracts are being negotiated swiftly, so that work can commence as of the second week in January of 2017.
That means that both the Nercwys, Mold, site and the Buckley site will be closed from 2nd week in January, right through until the end of March of 2017, meaning some inconvenience for all of us who regularly use either one..
The nearest available refuse and recycling facility open and available for residents of Buckley and Mold will be that at Sandycroft

.

2.(c) The Precinct:

Not a great deal of change since my last newsletter. The planning permissions that have been granted still stand, awaiting some activity from the owners of the Precinct.
We have 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 long leases. The arrival of a nationally recognised name would certainly increase the footfall within the precinct, which is exactly what is needed.


Your councillors, at town and at county levels, are all willing to help, in whatever way we can, because white-washed windows, with empty units behind them, are not in the town’s interest, nor that of the precinct’s owners.

 

Regrettably, the whispers circulating at street gossip level at this present time suggest that, with the high costs of the leases being demanded for units, along with the serious burden of business rates as currently set, but unimpressive footfall figures, the precinct’s units are not, currently, wildly attractive to the smaller, would-be local entrepreneurs. Sadly, the recent move of the disabilities facility shop and the latest closure, that of the Balinese shop, both re-locating to Mold, somewhat proves that point.

 

2.(d) A Sign of The Times:

While setting out issues relating to the area of the Precinct, I wonder how many of you readers have actually taken a look at the explanatory sign by the small tree, close to where NatWest Bank used to be? Buckley Town Council asked officers at Flintshire County Council for a suitable notice to be produced and erected to explain to visitors why the town had elected to have mining trolleys for people to sit on rather than standard benches or chairs.


To give them their due, FCC’s appropriate officers did produce and install such a notice and in a correctly bi-lingual format. The only problem is that the overall size of the notice is 21cm across, by 17.5cm deep, (That’s 8 inches and a quarter, by 7 inches in old measurement) with the lettering in a type size barely any bigger than the words you are reading now, while the whole thing has been set with its top only 45cm (15 inches) above ground level, so that it is impossible to read it, without kneeling down and using a magnifying glass.


You may take it that a polite request has been made, from Buckley Town Council, to FCC officers, to please re-consider the matter and hopefully install a larger notice at a sensible height, in a readable
type size. The replacement to be at FCC’s cost. Whoever organised the present inappropriate item surely blew both the rules of common sense and FCC’s “value for money” policy right out of the water!

 

2.(e) Another Sign of The Times:

When I first became a town councillor, way back in 1994, a wise and helpful councillor of many years standing, now sadly no longer with us, asked me how I handled frustration. At my puzzled frown he went on, “You’ll need to learn that there will be many things that you want to do for the people who elected you, but you will not be able to, usually because there’s a fool, or a rule, that will stop you cold. It’s frustrating, but you have to learn to live with it.” The other thing he warned me about was not to get too upset by the lawmakers telling us councillors to do something one day and the opposite thing the next day.


It has been one further, recent, episode of the latter point that made me recall that conversation. Not very long ago, there was a review of town council boundaries and sizes, set under way by the WAG. It ended up noting that Buckley was a wee bit light in councillor terms and recommending some changes. Those were to lose one councillor in Bistre West Ward, but add one to Pentrobin Ward and add two additional for Mountain Ward. Those changes being effected in the 2017 elections. More recently, another boundary commission has been set in motion, by the WAG. That is currently ongoing. It has the task of reducing the present 735 Parish, Community and Town Councils to somewhere near 100 and whittling down, probably quite severely, the numbers of councillors in the surviving 100 or so entities, to be known as “Common Councils.” Recommended changes to be implemented in 2022.


So, in 2017 Buckley Town Councillor numbers will rise from 18 to 20, but, for the next local government elections, indicated for 2022, the number of town councillors will likely be a good deal fewer than 20. All of the cost, time and effort put into the first review will have been totally and completely wasted. Did I hear somebody say, “Three loud raspberries for the Wales Government?” If so I’ll gladly join in.

 

2.(f) Ongoing Activities:

There are of course a number of local ward/town issues, all of which I have mentioned in previous newsletters, which are ongoing, but presently without any visible progress. Those include:
a) The Community Woodland and Car Parking matter.
b) Renewal of assorted Faded Road Markings.
c) Clearing of Overgrown Highways Signs.
d) Buckley Old Baths Building Project.


Each one is work in progress by individuals and groups. I do assure you that as movement or even progress appears relating to each, I shall report such at the first opportunity.


After a few conversations with StreetScene staff, the roadside drain at the bottom of West View, which regularly vanished under a large puddle whenever it rained, has finally been upgraded from just a soakaway which is all it was. It has now been linked in to the main drainage system. Hopefully, the perpetual puddle whenever it rained, will prove to be a thing of the past. In that same area, StreetScene have removed the much abused and misused yellow salt/sand/grit bin on the south side of Meg’s Lane. That will not return because Meg’s Lane is now on the list of roads that, in winter, will be gritted whenever the criterion for gritting activity is met and gritting lorry activity triggered. For the convenience of dog-walkers in that area and on the green space on West View, a Dog-Dirt Bin will be sited where the now removed salt/sand/grit bin once was.


There is also some progress on the matter which both Cllr Richard Jones and I have been trying to drive along for a couple of months or more, which is the development of additional off-road parking at Prince of Wales Court. That of course is aimed at easing the over-parking pressures at the Chester Road and Brook Street junction, which has caused all sorts of problems for the bus companies and their many passengers on routes previously using that location, but now stopped, because of safety concerns. The formal planning application for alterations to the parking and play areas off road alongside Jubilee Road has now been submitted. All being well, actual work on the ground could begin inside of a couple of months.

2.(g) Next Year’s Fun Day:

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, to keep Sunday, 21st May free so that you can attend and enjoy yourselves.

3. Moving On To Flintshire:

Here, briefly, are a few facts about the county you live in. One or two may surprise you.
* More people per square mile than in Wales as a whole.
* A higher percentage of people aged under 16 than in Wales as a whole.

* A lower percentage of people aged over 65 than in Wales as a whole.
* The 5th lowest percentage of people claiming benefits in Wales.
* A lower Average Band D council tax than in Wales as a whole.
* The longest average travel to work distance in the UK.


One of the reasons why your county is regarded as wealthy by the WAG and is therefore grossly underfunded in comparison to some other Welsh counties is to do with earnings. For our county the latest Office of National Statistics figures for gross weekly income indicate that Flintshire is up among the leaders in the matter of weekly earnings:
Flintshire Wales U.K.


Full-time employees average £528.3 £484.4 £529.6
Male Full-time employees £548.2 £517.4 £570.4
Female Full-time employees £466.5 £431.1 £471.6


This county’s problem is that it costs as much to run a secondary school in Flintshire as it does to run one in any better-funded county down south, something that “the formula” used for distributing local government support grants seems not to be able to grasp. As I am sitting preparing this newsletter, in the middle of October, the gap in the county council budget for 2017-18 appears to be in the region of £6Million, at least. If the WAG does not do some drastic re-thinking on which county gets what in future funding terms, the suggested cut-back on refuse collection services, from fortnightly, to monthly, will be one of the least painful coming over the horizon.


On the bigger picture, both councillors, council staff and residents are still unaware of exactly what the future shape of local government in Wales is likely to be. Some three or four years back, the WAG set in motion the Williams Commission. It cost a packet of money from the public purse, had an allegedly good look around and came up with recommendations that Wales is far too small in population numbers to sustain 22 distinct county councils. That commission recommended a downsizing to 8 or maybe 9, meaning mergers all around.


At that time, the then Minister for Local Government, Carl Sargeant, warned the existing county councils to “Get on the collaboration train, or else!” Flintshire has not been slow in doing just that. But, for good governance, staff morale, best service delivery and value for money, we need some clarity and an ability to plan well ahead.
That essential clarity is simply something we are not getting. The present Minister, Prof. Mark Drakeford, on the face of it, appears to have recently kicked the recommendations of the Williams Commission into the long grass, but the question has to be asked, “Has he really done so?”


That is because, in apparent statements published in the latest edition of the management journal for local government business, the Minister has been quoted as saying, among other things, “I am conscious that local government has been through an extended period of uncertainty about its future and the corrosive effect this has had on
morale. By the New Year I hope to have identified, with local government, recognised trade unions and other partners, a viable way forwards. There is a lot to be done. I have set out a fresh approach and the building blocks for reform with the aim of securing a resilient and renewed local government in Wales. The Welsh government will also consider how the funding system should be aligned to support the change programme.”
So, once again, it is a matter of “Watch This Space!” That is hardly good enough for the people of Wales, one and all.

 

3.(1) Private Properties, Grants & Loan Facilities:

In these times of austerity, uncertainty, zero-hours contracts and regrettable lack of job security, there is some comfort for council house residents in that the cost of maintenance and improvements is not a personal burden as the county takes care of it in terms of slowly but steadily improving housing quality standards. For the private house owners in our community, of which I am one, the struggle to maintain their property in good order can be burdensome. With the introduction of austerity some years back, the previous availability of several grants for private home owners disappeared. In 2010 a fresh Renewal Policy, moving away from grants towards a series of loans, was introduced. That policy was updated in 2012. In Flintshire, the following grant assists are available, which some readers might wish to take note of. The officer who knows all about them is Gavin Griffith, who can be contacted via the main switchboard on 01352 752121.


1) The statutory Disabled Facilities Grant. This has a cap at £36k and is for works to adapt a property in order to meet a disability need, following a recommendation by a qualified Occupational Therapist.
2) A discretionary Disability Relocation Grant. Also capped at £36k. Offered in cases where it is impossible to adapt an existing property to meet the disabled person’s individual needs.
3) Affordable Warmth Grant. This grant, of up to £5,000, is to provide energy efficiency measures for households whose occupants are calculated to be in fuel poverty, (Spending more than 10% of income on fuel.) but who do not qualify for any of the national schemes as they are not in receipt of the required benefits. This one is administered on behalf
of FCC by the North Wales Energy Advice Centre.
4) The Property Repair Fund. This grant provides funding of up to £1,500 for urgent repairs, where the cost of loan set-up would be disproportionate to the value of the work required. This item is administered on behalf of FCC by Care & Repair North East Wales.
In addition to these, there are a number of loans on offer, which I shall set out briefly, as follows:
5) Disabled Facilities Grant Discretionary Top-Up. A discretionary loan, available where works to adapt a person’s home will exceed the £36k grant maximum.
6) Empty Property Loan. Designed to assist those in the county who own a long-term vacant property, (6 months or above) which they wish to renovate and bring back into occupation.
7) WG Houses into Homes Loan. A Welsh Government funded item which provides county council with a recyclable loan fund. It can be used to improve the condition of vacant properties (over 6 months empty) to bring the property back into occupation, or for sale or let.
8) Property Appreciation Loan. Available to vulnerable households, defined as those able to access a means tested benefit. It involves an equity charge, repayable upon sale or disposal of the property.
9) WG Home Improvement Loan. This is a loan more geared to middle income households and private landlords as it must be repaid over a defined period.
As with all such loan arrangements, the proviso is that terms and conditions apply to each. For details of those, Gavin Grifffith is the man who knows them.

 

3.(2) Dog DNA Registration Proposals:

The FCC Task & Finish Group, of which I am a member, met again on 3rd October, 2016, to consider further just how we get it across to the hopefully small number of dog-owners who simply refuse to acknowledge that they have a moral and ethical duty NOT to allow their pets to defecate on public green spaces or walkways, without clearing up the mess before they head off home. Proposals coming forward are likely to place exclusion orders on certain public open spaces, such as recreation areas and sports grounds, banning ALL dogs from those locations, as a first step in trying to deal with the number one complaint we councillors
receive from the public, that of dog fouling on pavements and green spaces all over the county. Further green spaces may eventually have orders placed upon them permitting access to dogs, but ONLY if they have been DNA sampled and registered. There is more work to be done and nothing will become official until somewhere in 2017, whenever full county council, hopefully, approves of whatever the final proposals are.

 

3.(3) Community Speed Watch Scheme:

If dog dirt is the greatest complaint us councillors receive, then the thoughtless parking and unlawful speeding by vehicle drivers are items two and three. That is why I have taken on the role of co-ordinator for the Buckley Community Speed Watch Scheme. So far, four of us have stepped forwards, been trained by North Wales Police and are operating. Other applicants are awaiting training.


Speeds of 24mph or more in any 20mph zone, 35mph or more in a 30mph zone and 46mph or more in a 40mph zone will not get you a fine, but they will get you a polite letter from the North Wales Police, requesting that you pay a wee bit more attention to where you are and the legal speed limit at that location. On roads where our activities record notable percentages of drivers being heavy-footed on the accelerator pedal, the Go-Safe vehicle is likely to appear as a back-up. Getting nobbled by their camera- equipped speed recording system most certainly will cost you cash. So, drivers one and all, my earnest request is that you tread lightly on the accelerator pedal, please, in the interests of road safety and the contents of your wallet.

 

3.(4) A Temporary Blue Badge:

A couple of years or so ago, we had the problems of the then new application process for Blue Badge holders, which proved something of a nightmare at the time.
Now the WAG has come up with another thought about Blue Badges, but, this time, a useful and sensible one. Namely an arrangement whereby individuals who have a temporary need for a Blue Badge, because they have encountered a time-limited disability, can actually get hold of one. In technical terms, there has been a change in The Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (Wales) Regulations 2000, which covers the Blue Badge Scheme. As of 1st October, 2016, the scheme has provision for Blue Badges to be issued to individuals who encounter temporary mobility impairments. The time limit on any first temporary badge is 12 months, although renewal is available if needed.


Impairment in this case is not defined by diagnosis or condition, but by the physical barriers faced by the applicant due to their limited mobility. Some examples of the cases expected to be covered by the new criteria are:-
* A person recovering from a complex leg fracture.
* A person recovering from a stroke or a head injury which has impacted upon their mobility.
* A person recovering from any spinal trauma which impacts upon their mobility.
* A person with a serious illness undergoing treatment which may be debilitating.
* A person with severe functional leg impairments, who is awaiting, or who has undergone complex joint replacement surgery. (Unilateral or bilateral knee or hip replacements.)
Detailed guidance can be found on the www at:-


http://gov.wales/topics/transport/road-users/bluebadgeschemeinfo/?lamg=en

 

3.(5) Refuse Bins, Recycling & Pennies In Your Pocket

Every household should receive, towards the end of each year, a flyer from county council, setting out the collections over the Christmas/New Year period and the months when brown bins will not be collected.
StreetScene officers have advised that the latest flyer, for Christmas and New Year 2016 and on into 2017, will appear as usual, probably in December, 2016. So please keep an eye open for it. If you have not received one by the middle of December, start chasing somebody, on telephone number 01352 701234.


While most householders are doing their best to recycle whatever they can, it is a regrettable fact that a significant number are presently not doing so. That situation cannot be permitted to continue, because the EU, of which we are still a member and will remain one at least for the next two and a half years, has set strict limits, dwindling annually, on the tonnages of refuse that nations are permitted to send to landfill. Along with that go rising demands for recycling. Nations that go over the annual landfill limit will incur a £200 per tonne Infraction Charge. Responsibility for getting down to their allocated tonnages has been passed down from the WAG to each of the 22 county authorities. Counties over the limit will have to cough up the Infraction Charge cash.


With the county being cash-strapped already, steps will inevitably need to be taken to steer erring households towards a more community supportive attitude. On the table are the options of increasing the overall county community charge to cover any Infraction Charges, which would be a wee bit unfair on those many who are being supportive and recycling all they can, or fining the individual householders who clearly are not playing the game. Either way, officialdom’s extraction of more pennies from our pockets looms, which nobody wants.


The final reason for maximising kerbside sorting and recycling is of course that the county can sell onward the good quality re-cyclates of many kinds and earn an income from the sales.
So, let us all maximise recycling, please.

 

4. Across the U.K.:

Aside from being an “Older Person” myself and naturally able to keep a finger on that particular pulse in the community, I also have concerns about how sensibly, or otherwise, government and local government are treating our national teens and twenties group right across the UK. I have concerns that they are not being educated well enough, skilled well enough or supported well enough by provision of youth services. My personal concerns have recently been confirmed by a new report on youth service cuts, recently published by UNISON.


The report, A Future at Risk: Cuts in Youth Services, found that more than 600 youth centres have been shut, 3,650 youth staff have lost their jobs, and 139,000 youth places have been lost since 2012. This has coincided with youth services losing an estimated £387 million from their budgets since 2010. The report, which is based on information from 180 local authorities and a survey of youth workers, found that from 2016/17 there will be:


* At least £26m more cuts in youth service spending;
* 45,000 more youth service places removed;
*800 more jobs lost;
*In excess of 30 more youth centres closed.

UNISON is strongly concerned with the social impact this is having. 91% of youth workers said that the cuts were having a particular impact on young people from poorer backgrounds and 77% reported that they had seen an increase in mental health issues. The report points out that:


“Increases in mental health, substance abuse and anti-social behaviour are bound to increase the pressures on statutory services like social care and child and adolescent mental health services. These are added burdens which could be avoided - or at least mitigated - if youth services were maintained.”


UNISON is calling for several reforms including provision of youth services to become a statutory duty for councils, full resources made available to make this a reality, services to be fully funded and kept in-house, and young people to be consulted on changes to services.
If any readers have concerns in this field, the full report is online at: https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/08/23996.pdf.

 

5. Further Afield:

Just remember that this nation’s admirable standard of living has been sustained for years on the back of borrowed money. Something that simply cannot continue uncorrected. Technically, UK plc went bust in 1976, when the government of the day decided to run a Budget Deficit of 6% of Gross Domestic Product. This year, our Gross National Debt stands at 89.2% of GDP. However, before anyone starts panicking and heading to their bank to retrieve their hard-earned pennies and stick them under the mattress, they might take some consolation from the following, which is a list of G7 nations, in alphabetical order and their debt to GDP levels, taking 2007 actuals and 2017 predictions:


Trillions % of GDP
G7 Nation Currency 2007 2017 2007 2017
Canada CAD 1.02 1.27 67 78
France Euro 1.21 2.05 64 86
Germany Euro 1.59 2.25 65 74
Italy Euro 1.60 2.10 103 121
Japan Yen 93.88 129.12 183 250
U/K’dom GBP 0.62 1.84 44 94
US of A USD 9.42 22.51 67 114


With the global financial institutes worrying about that picture already, it is perhaps understandable why the likes of Christine Lagarde, CEO of the IMF and Mark Carney, CEO of the Bank of England, both had the heebie-jeebies over Brexit, because of the inevitable following period of uncertainty, which is not to their liking

 

5.(1) Greeds of Destruction?:

On September 8th, 2016, the USA government revealed that the Wells Fargo Banking Corporation – once the USA poster child for banking prudence – had, between 2011 and 2015, illegally opened more than 2 million Credit and Debit card accounts for existing customers, without their knowledge or permission.


In doing so the bank collected more than $2.6 million in unwarranted fees from unsuspecting clients. Following a Senate Committee hearing during which John Stumpf, the Wells Fargo CEO, was well and truly roasted, the bank agreed to pay $185million in penalties, while exasperated Senator critics were left wondering just what it will take to really reform attitudes within the banking and financial services industries. During the hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren expressed the view, to a decidedly uncomfortable John Stumpf, that, “The only way that Wall Street will change is if executives face jail time whenever they preside over massive frauds.”

 

6. In Lighter Vein:

Recently, Julie Andrews celebrated her 79th birthday by reprising her 1963 hit song, “Some of my Favourite Things” with a slightly altered form of words. She received a standing ovation of over four minutes in length for singing, as only she can:

 

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

 

For the younger element in the ward, do give a thought to the fact that, with a little bit of luck, you too will reach a ripe old age, someday. Don’t be afraid of it!

 

Finally, please remember that if you have problems, I can be contacted at any time, even right across the Christmas and New Year period, just as usual, via my home phone, 01244 549421 or my two email addresses of: <arnoldwoolley@outlook.com> or <arnold.woolley@flintshire.gov.uk>

 

Merry Christmas and A Happy and Prosperous New Year To You All.

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