September 2014

A newsletter for Bistre East Ward residents
From Cllr. Arnold Woolley, DipIM, MCMI
(Member of the Independent Alliance Group)

Please do take the time to read through my observations.
They are intended to keep you, the ratepayers and voters
of the Town and County, up to date on current affairs.

1. General

Sometimes, in order to see what is ahead, you have to look back.
That may be a bit of a contradiction in common sense terms, but life is often all about contradictions and how we manage them.
Thirty years ago, in 1984, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government was still basking in the warm afterglow of their 1983 election victory. An electoral victory that saw her and her party re-elected with an increased majority, on the back of Great Britain’s successful 1982 defence of the Falklands Islands against the Argentinian invasion.

More importantly for the nation and for us living right now in the United (?) Kingdom or the UK as it is shortened to, between 1983 and 1984, the nation’s trading accounts swung from credit into debt, creating a budget deficit. To cover that gap, the government sold more long term bonds to internal and external investors. Those bonds, known as gilts, have to be repaid in full, with interest, when they mature in years ahead. When all of those outstanding borrowings, plus interest due, are totalled together, the figure becomes UK’s National Debt.

Incredibly, that borrowing habit continued, unabated, under John Major’s Conservative Government of 1994. It even increased when Tony Blair and Labour took over in 1997. Under the present Coalition government, in power since 2010, that dangerous and unsustainable habit has continued, despite the financial dramas of 2008 and the more recent several years of “Austerity” policies.
In March 2014, public sector net debt was £1,268.7 billion, equivalent to 75.8% of gross domestic product (GDP). The major problem is that not one single government of any political colour has invested those borrowings wisely, so as to produce growth. Instead, the State has been wasting our money for decades, with weak, short-sighted politicians looking only as far as their popularity ratings and the date of the next general election. Because of that, we are heading towards a need to make interest payments alone in the order of £50 Billion every year, before even one single penny is spent on “us.”

That £50billion is a figure higher than we currently spend on defence and not much less than our total education budget. I suspect that future generations will not thank us, or the governments we elected, for burdening them with the bills for past political party lunacy or downright bad management of the nation’s affairs over three decades or so. Those decades have also seen an ever widening gap between rich and poor, which of course each party in turn did promise to deal with as a matter of urgency.
That foregoing scenario is of course “The Big Picture.” If you are a believer in Maggie Thatcher’s dictum that “Little people should not trouble themselves with big decisions,” do please ignore this newsletter and stroll onwards into the future, warmly and comfortably wrapped in your blanket of complacency, which is almost certainly going to be pulled away from you in the next few years of hard and harsh fiscal austerity, which is unlikely to end anywhere short of 2020 at best.

With Health, Social Services and Education consuming around 80% of public funding at this time, which is one of rising demand and increased expectations, along with an ageing population, it can only be the non-statutory areas of service provision from where future economies will have to come. If the annual savings needs of the Wales Government do reach the predicted £280Million mark by 2018, then service areas such as Libraries, Leisure/Sports Centres, Music & Art Provision and even Domestic Waste Services will all become targets for off-loading, out-sourcing, commissioning, co-operative or mutual style operating, or face being cut out, partially or completely.

The Wales Government appears to believe that funding and control need more centralisation, to avoid wasteful duplication. They wish us at county level to shrink and save, while they expand and spend. That is not how true democracy works. Local Government needs to be just that, “local” or it fails the “Voice of the People” test. However, it must not be wasteful, expensive or inefficient. There are two sets of people who can, if they can get their minds away from party political dogma and a general apathy, create the necessary changes towards a more “Localist” style of local government. Those are your local government representatives, like me, and you yourselves.

2. Let’s Think Local

“What’s in it for Buckley?” That is a question that I often ask myself whenever the latest set of policies, strategies and proposals appear on paper or in electronic form from our county council. Sadly, the answer usually is “Not a lot!” Unfortunately, I suspect that will be the situation with the 100 new council houses which the present Labour Administration is borrowing money in order to build, over the next six (6) years. If any of them appear in our town, or for the use of Buckley’s residents, I shall admit to being a very surprised, but pleased, town and county councillor.

Staying with “What’s in it for Buckley?” I look at the rising new medical centre each time I drive past it, wondering just what it will or will not do for our town’s pedestrianised centre and the retail outlets there. It is not only the Roseneath and Bradley Medical Practices that will be moving away from the town centre to the old Belmont School site a half-mile away, but also Lloyd’s Chemists, presently located within the Precinct, close to the Library.

Whether or not patients attending the new medical centre will make that half-mile journey, by one means of transport or another and continue to make retail purchases, transact financial business at the banks, or take time for a cup of tea or coffee somewhere along the pedestrian way, is uncertain.

What is certain is that if that relocation of the medical centre reduces the footfall in the areas of Buckley Cross, the pedestrian way and the Precinct, it will not be good news for Buckley residents and shoppers, or for any of our existing retail outlets. Uncomfortably, only time will tell!

My concern about which direction those attending the new medical centre will go in, after treatment, is added to over what will become of the present Padeswood Medical Centre site once the transfer from there is over and the building is boarded-up and secured for safety? We do not need another long-standing eyesore in the town centre. The old Legion Building is already one too many. Finally, watch out for the imposition of car parking charges here in Buckley, no matter how much councillors like me may oppose it.

Not that everything is negative in relation to what the county council is doing for Buckley. £118k of EU funding has been allocated for town centre improvements. One of the planters opposite the Spar store is destined to disappear, to be replaced by a feature, part of which is intended to display the town’s historic heritage in brick, tile and pottery. I hope the designers will not overlook the contribution made by the coal industry and the numerous local miners employed over many years until the 1960s.

We also have movement in the matter of the Flintshire Connects office, to be located within the present Town Council Building and the front/top portion of the Old Buckley Baths. All the county council services that local folks need will be represented in that hub, with computer access for those who are IT savvy, with county council employees behind desks to answer queries and provide assistance for those who are not. Unfortunately, after a whole lot of negotiations, cost estimates, a feasibility study and so forth, the North Wales Police Force has decided not to take up an option to occupy space in “The Community Room” located on the 1st Floor of the Town Council Building. The county authority and the police force have both indicated that it is still their intention to remain fully committed to the Flintshire Connects Scheme in Buckley. Once the Connects Office is up and running, Flintshire Connects Customer Service Advisors will receive North Wales Police inquiries during normal office hours, including reports of Lost & Found items. As far as timing is concerned, it appears that the detailed design work is now proceeding, with formal tendering for the work element of the project set for September. Perhaps by Easter of next year, 2015, the facility will be up and running.
Finally, for this section, if the first thing on local peoples’ minds is “The Superstore” then the second is “The Old Baths Building.” On that particular issue, problem, or project, however you wish to describe it, getting the transfer of a portion of the car park from FCC to your Town Council is proving something of a problem. To get any fund-raising started, the new charity has to have clear title to the land and building. The Town Council, the County Council and CISWO, the Coal Industries Welfare Organisation, have each agreed to hand over their bits and pieces of land and property to the properly constituted Board of Trustees. Those Trustees are Cllrs. Carol Ellis, Dennis Hutchinson, Richard Jones and Mike Peers. They will now need to work hard to build upon the enormous amount of good work put in over the past few years by our town clerk, Martin Wright and his wife Mary, without whose efforts the building probably would have been sold off by the county council, to make way for another block of flats. Despite the agreement, made three, nearly four, years back, the legal eagles at FCC have still not cleared and completed the necessary land transfer paperwork. Nobody seems to know why. That is not making the task of the Trustees any easier.

Once that land/property hurdle is cleared, the Trustees, of whom more will be needed and who should preferably not be councillors, will then have the task of steering the charity along the pathway of progress to, a) find the funding required and, b) arrange for the building to be structurally altered, so as to turn it into a multi-functional centre for the use of Buckley residents. How long that will take will depend upon the “time and dedication” factors that the trustees bring to the project, plus a whole lot of good luck, which I am sure we all wish them.

3. The Voter Apathy Problem.

Well, Well! The latest round of European Parliamentary Elections, and, across the border in England, several local government authority elections, all back in May, are now history. After the run-up weeks of assorted media attention, during which Nick Clegg unwisely fed himself to the UKIP wolf in front of the TV cameras and the nation at large, the entire country seemed to be clamouring for an “In/Out” Referendum on our EU membership and demanding better control over immigration. Both commendable aims in my personal view. However, while “The Media” would have us believe that “Everyone”, wants that “In/Out” Referendum, only 36% of voters even bothered to turn out to vote in those May elections. If you were one of those 64% who deliberately chose not to vote, do give a thought, please, to emailing or phoning me to tell me why. That request I make in all seriousness, because, my purpose, as one of your councillors at Local Government level, is to represent you, your needs, hopes and aspirations, to help deliver the kind of high quality, value for money, community services and sensible national/international policies that we all wish to support. I really do need to know what is turning off the vast majority of you and causing you to disengage from local and national electoral processes. So, pick up the phone and push the buttons for 01244 549421, or vent your feelings on your PC keyboard and send the results to me at

It may be, that, like me, you feel that “Government of the People, by the People, for the People” has vanished and been replaced with something akin to “Government of the Elite, by the Financiers, for the Corporations.” If so, tell me about it, please.


4. There Goes My Quill Pen!

I am quite prepared to have a go at the county council organisation, councillors or officers if there is evidence that they have goofed in one way or another. However, “getting it wrong” cases are usually isolated and far outweighed by the good work done, day by day, mostly without fanfare. A couple of recent bits of good news are worth drawing to your notice. The first and most important is that after a whole lot of hard work over several years, by many, many officers, councillors, unionised and non-unionised members of staff and externally based consultants, an approved Single Status Pay and Conditions Agreement came into force as of 1st June of this year. Under it there will now be far more equality in relation to basic pay scales, overtime, holiday and sickness/absence entitlements and so forth. Well done to all involved! The only regrettable point is that the county council will still be paying several hundred of its front-line and support staff an hourly pay rate that is below the “Living Wage,” which I attempted to introduce, but lost the vote over when the Labour Administration and their supporters approved instead an amended motion to “Work Towards The Living Wage.”

Another step in the right direction is the impending issue to all councillors of a personal Ipad computer tablet. The ever-rising cost of posting hard-copy papers of all Agendas, Committee Reports and miscellaneous papers of all kinds to every one of seventy (70) councillors has been one driver for this. A second one being that presently, the county creates its hard-copy paperwork only in English, which situation has been adversely and potentially threateningly commented upon by the Welsh Language Commission.
If the county were to literally double its present postage costs, which would be the effect of printing paper copies in both languages, that added postage cost would decrease the cash available for other, more essential needs.

A couple of months ago, Executive Members and Group Leaders were each issued with the item, as an experimental trial. That trial exercise has apparently been successful, with lots of positive feed-back. Based upon that, identical Ipad tablet computers will now be issued to the rest of us county councillors, including the dozen who, currently, do not have computers at home.
I am happy to confess that I far prefer the feel of a paper page to the look of an electronic screen. However, in this day and age of wholesale environmental vandalism, normally perpetrated in the name of alleged progress, (Which usually means corporate profit!) every tree saved and every sheet of paper that does not end up in an Energy from Waste plant, is a benefit to humankind. Based on that thought, I will retire my quill pen and give the electronic gizmo, once I receive it, a chance to shift me one step closer to the modern world. Mind you, while I do have a website, using the corporate Ipad will not convince me to join Facebook or Twitter.


5. A New Direction For Buckley?

Having only a year or so ago finally put to bed the much argued and long-drawn-out process of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the county, Flintshire is now beginning to fight its way along the process that will lead to its Local Development Plan (LDP). That plan, once approved, will control development in the county for the foreseeable future. The number of units of housing will be of utmost interest to the examining Inspector, who will be keen to ensure that Flintshire meets its predicted/required number of houses needed to be built in each of the years ahead. Buckley, being “up a bit” and unlikely to suffer from flooding problems, has a high proportion of the overall number allocated to the county, perhaps as much as 30%.

In current figures, the population of the county is, at present, around 150,637. That is expected to rise to around 153,210 by 2026. In terms of households, the current number of 65,880 is predicted to rise to 68,807, by 2016. That means a need to build something like 2,927 new units of houses/flats/bungalows, by 2016, because according to current analysis of future trends, people wish for smaller, individual residences, rather than larger family-sized homes.

One of the LDP submissions relates to a “Buckley South Village,” covering the land currently farmed/ranched for many years by the Fisher family, plus a bit more to the west of Padeswood Road South, as well as the land downhill from both Marleyfields and Spon Green. That last one being roughly the area of interest in the failed “Jimsul” application.

Other thinking seems to be looking towards the Prenbrigog area of open land, loosely between the Mold Road and Bryn Road.
Whatever the outcome, you may rest assured that I and I hope other councillors, will be closely scrutinising the plans, so as to ensure that, along with any necessary housing, there is some full provision of all of the other infrastructure needs, such as school places, medical services, dental services, adequate mains water and sewage services, along with open spaces for recreation and exercise. Some thought has to be given to bus services also.


6. An Aldi Store in Buckley?

I doubt there is a single shopper in Buckley who would not welcome such an event. However, their £3Million purchase, a couple of years back, of a parcel of land in Broughton; land that is firmly zoned for Housing, appears to be a bit of a stumbling block. As of the date of this newsletter going to print, there is gossip that the company has, apparently, just produced a formal letter to prove that they do have a purchase agreement relating to The Potter’s Wheel. That, despite their representative at the recent public open event stating to me and others that they did not intend to buy that property unless and until they obtain planning consent for a store, which could well depend upon some successful progress of their Broughton planning application. They did put in a formal planning application relating to the Broughton location, some weeks back. That application may or may not succeed. More recently they have submitted another planning application relating to Buckley. That is a good sign, but how the two will work together or against each other has yet to be played out. Previous attempts to obtain a change of use for that Broughton housing land have failed and, from where I see the issues, change of use is unlikely.

If the company is serious about a presence in Buckley, regardless of the Broughton issue, they will certainly need the car park area between The Potters and The Old Legion Building. FCC indicated a willingness to sell that land long ago as part of Buckley’s proposed Master Plan, so there should be no problem there. Local councillors are supportive of the project, so once again, we are all just waiting to see how it plays out.


If for some reason, their Potters Wheel plans fall through, it might be possible to interest Aldi in taking over the present Co-op site, for there are strong rumours circulating that that company, armed with their planning consent from 18th April, 2014, are now trying, so far unsuccessfully, to offload that location. The reason probably being that, with permission to move parking from the Precinct Way side of the building to the presently unused land basically between Lexham Green and the Co-op building and expand warehouse and retail floor space, that potential new outline would take the location way above and beyond the Co-op’s current business plan for size of store.
Part of that planning permission is a Section 106 Agreement that will give £200k towards improvements in Buckley Town, the moment the first shovel-full of soil is moved in progressing the potential development, regardless of the name of the company that moves it.

The most intriguing thought for us shoppers in Buckley and around is, if an Aldi store does appear, who, in retail food-store terms, might be tempted to buy out the Co-op building in order to compete with them?
Two major retail stores in Buckley? What a delicious thought!


7. Personal Finances.

Personal debt in Britain now exceeds £1.4trillion – almost the same amount as Britain's annual national economic output – according to a recent report that warns debt is wreaking havoc on people's mental health and wellbeing.
Poorer people are "bearing the brunt of a storm" during which average household debt has risen to £54,000 – nearly double what it was a decade ago, the report by the Centre for Social Justice think tank warns.
The report, entitled “Maxed Out,” found that almost half of households in the lowest income rating spent more than a quarter of their income on debt repayments in 2012. More than 5,000 people are being made homeless every year as a result of mortgage or rent debts.

Christian Guy, director of the think tank established when in opposition by the work and pensions’ secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said: "Problem debt can have a corrosive impact on people and families. Our report shows how it can wreak havoc on mental health, relationships and wellbeing. Across the UK people are up until the early hours worrying about their finances and bills."
The report, written by the former Labour work and pensions minister Chris Pond, found that:

• Personal debt in the UK, including mortgage lending, stands at over £1.4tn – an average of £54,000 per household compared with £29,000 a decade ago.

• Consumer debt (Credit Cards!) had trebled since 1993. Recently it reached £158.9bn;
• More than 8m households have no savings, including half of low-income households;
• Outstanding debt on credit cards has almost trebled since 1998 to reach £55.6bn. That is UP by £2.9billion since November 2012;
• There were 300,000 arrears on mortgage in 2012 – with 34,000 homes repossessed. This is a reduction of 30% from the peak of the recession but a 60% overall increase since 2006.

Pond said: "With falling real incomes and increasing costs of basic essentials, many – especially the most vulnerable – are sliding further into problem debt. The costs to those affected, in stress and mental disorders, relationship breakdown and hardship is immense. But so too is the cost to the nation, measured in lost employment and productivity and in an increased burden on public services."

The report found that the decision of mainstream banks to refuse credit to the less well-off has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for short-term credit – from payday lenders, pawnbrokers and doorstop lenders – which is now worth £4.8bn a year. More than 1.4 million people have no access to a bank account. They are “effectively excluded from the entire financial sector". This contributes to the "poverty premium", a £1,280 annual surcharge on everyday goods and services faced by low-income households.

Payday lenders have increased their business from £900m in 2008-09 to more than £2bn – accounting for around 8m loans – in 2011-12. The number of people resorting to loan sharks increased to 310,000. That and the increasing gap between rich and poor are not signs of a healthy economy.
The report says: "For the most financially excluded, there is often no option but to turn to illegal moneylenders. It is estimated that over 310,000 people borrow money from these criminals each year. Illegal moneylenders extort money from their victims, often arbitrarily raising interest rates, demanding payments or charging undue penalties. Their use of violence and intimidation terrorises people and communities, enforcing a 'veil of silence' that allows them to escape detection. This is an inexcusable crime in modern Britain.

Many of the side effects of problem debt can also work to drive people further into debt, creating a vicious cycle. While it is often hard to prove causation, there is a clear relationship between the following situations and problem debt: unemployment, family breakdown, addiction, and poor mental health. Similarly, many of these factors are interrelated, meaning problem debt can have diverse causes, requiring multidimensional support in order to fully resolve the underlying problems."

8. Housing Crisis? What Housing Crisis?

Well over two-thirds of the nation rented their homes in 1954, but for those who wanted to buy, the average UK house price was £2,750. These days it's £250,000, or about 90 times what it was. A weekly wage was the standard form of payment back then, and Mr Average (because it was almost always Mr) took home £9.25. Presently, Mr. Average takes home £556:00 per week, or 60 times what it was. Relative to wages, buying a house now is 50% more costly than 60 years ago. If that 50% is going into house buying, it has to come out of everything else, such as food, furniture, clothing, motor cars and holidays. Unless that is, there is a whole lot of borrowing going on, by which Mr. & Mrs Average and particularly the poorer Averages Family, are compensating for that Disposable Income shortfall, which, from 7 above, it seems they are.

No nation, or individual, can safely borrow their way through life. You either increase earnings through exports nationally or earn more, via wages, individually. If you cannot do either of those two, the only option left is a period of austerity, which is what we are facing right now.
So, why have house prices raced ahead of wages and why has each Government in turn done nothing about it?

To answer that question, we have to go back to the figures in 7 above. Each Government in turn has known full well that in the face of slack export performance, the internal market has had to be driven hard. In other words, Government, the media, the advertising gurus and the retail and commercial giants have all been pushing Mr. and Mrs Average to spend, spend, spend! However, with wage constraint in place, borrowing was the only answer, so borrowing had to be made easy. Despite that easing of credit, lenders needed and still demand surety. What best surety is there? Well, housing and land are at the top of the heap. Only problem being, if your house is mortgaged to the hilt, there is no spare equity to borrow into. National solution? Keep house prices rising. How do you do that? By artificially creating a shortage so as to guarantee that, by and large, house prices steadily rise, so that lots of spare equity appears. Add the introduction of the awful “Equity release Schemes” with their compound interest arrangements and there is the answer to the governmental dilemma of a stagnating internal economy.

If you think my cynical hypothesis is wrong, take a look at the following figures. Start with the fact that in 1970, some 378,230 houses were built (Completed!). In 2013, 109,370 were completed, or less than a third of that 1970 figure. Incidentally, some 13,000 of those 2013 houses were bought via the UK Government’s “Help to Buy Scheme” which is helping to concentrate house ownership in the hands of the already wealthy.

If you still believe I am wrong? Try this one:

In 2013 a report from the Local Government Association set out that at that moment in time, some 400,000 housing units, with applications that had been approved many months/years before, were still not even started, let alone completed.
Coming closer to home as it were, Flintshire, in 2013 alone, granted planning permission for some 3,796 housing units. Of that figure, less than 400 have actually been completed.

Government of course is busy blaming an antiquated, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic local authority planning system which takes about 27 weeks to get through, for the ongoing shortage in housing and ever-rising cost of housing. They are considering legislating to make it easier for their friends, The Developers, to get planning applications through faster.
Interestingly, they are not talking about speeding along only housing applications, but ALL planning applications. That should totally kill off what little control local people still have over what happens in their locality.

That allegation of housing planning permission delay at local government level is of course pure flim-flam. As above, it is easy to see that, locally and nationally, many thousands of houses for which planning permission has been granted are simply not being built and Government appears entirely content to do nothing about it.

After all, it would be dead easy for the UK Government to simply legislate that, if any house for which planning permission has been granted is not completed within perhaps 24 months of date of that planning permission, then financial penalties of, let us say, the equivalent of the annual community charge value, would be imposed, for each year the house remained uncompleted. That would get The Developers moving!

Why has Government not taken such a step? Well, think a little. If all of the houses that receive planning permission each year were to actually be built, there would be no shortage of housing. House (and land) prices would at least stabilize and might even fall. Oops! Can’t have that. Think of the Negative Equity figures. Think of the damage that would do to the Credit and Equity Release Financial Sectors. Think how much Lenders of all kinds would start to pull in their lending horns. Think of what that tightening up on, slow-down of, or even total cessation of “Easy Credit” would do to Government’s fiscal plans which depend on us lot continuing to spend, spend, spend; way beyond our earnings!

Meanwhile, by sitting on their corporate shovels as it were, The Developers stand to lose absolutely nothing and to gain much, as house prices and land values rocket, year on year, far out-stripping wages.

It will take party politicians of far greater vision, skill, courage, competence – and perhaps integrity? - than those presently on the scene, to sort out the mess that they and their predecessors have plunged the nation into.

Meanwhile, start planning now, please, to make sure your debt and borrowing levels, if you have such, start coming down, just as fast as you can manage it, because, from where I am, the UK’s current, alleged, fiscal recovery, is solely based on borrowings. Billions of £s floating around on plastic cards and in the cloud cuckoo land that exists solely on computer screens.
That is a recipe for disaster!


9. A Matter of Effort?

I do get asked what the workload of a county councillor is. My reply is a routine one, because individual workloads of county councillors are whatever each individual a) Has time for and, b) Wishes to get involved in.

The main constraint on time is for those who genuinely do struggle between still needing to work full time, while wishing to be a committed county councillor. For those of us fortunate enough to be nominally “retired” there is the opportunity to undertake a greater workload, if we so wish.

For the past twelve months for which statistics are available, your Buckley county councillors stack up in workload as follows:-
No. of Meetings Number of % of Actual
Due to Attend Meetings Attended Attendance
Ron Hampson 39 36 92
Me 23 21 91
Richard Jones 18 14 78
Carol Ellis 18 12 67
Neville Phillips 15 13 87
Mike Peers 11 9 82
Dennis Hutchinson 6 4 67

Do give a thought that the bare figures above make no allowance for sickness on the one hand or umpteen voluntary organisation involvements on the other hand, but, they are the figures out in public on the county council’s website, so we are stuck with them.

At County Hall, apart from attending full county council meetings, I sit on the Audit Committee, the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee, the Standards Committee, the Democratic Services Committee and the Constitution Committee. My voluntary sector involvements with 50+ Forum, CABs, Scouts, Welsh Border Community Transport, being a School Governor and a Town Councillor help keep me embedded at community level, which I regard as essential.

10. Watch Out For Your Vote!

No, not a matter of who you might vote for at the next set of elections, but a little worry of mine about a nation-wide change of system that came into effect on 10th June, 2014. The changes in system, sorted out by the Cabinet Office in conjunction with The Electoral Commission, is entitled, “Individual Electoral Registration” or IER for short.

To quote from the leaflet, recently issued to all county councillors and the like, IER is all about – “Instead of using a household form to register to vote, everyone will take individual responsibility for their own registration.” The leaflet goes on, “With IER, for the first time, people will also be able to register online. IER will make registering to vote safer and more convenient.”
As of June just gone, any new application to register will be made individually. It can be made online at, or on a paper form.

Crucially, for all of us currently on the Voters’ Roll (The Electoral Register!) we will have our name and address checked against government records so that they can be confirmed under IER. The vast majority of those on the register will be confirmed and will be automatically transferred to the “IER Register” without having to do anything.

Each elector will then receive a letter from their local Electoral Registration Officer to let them know that either:-
• They have been confirmed and successfully transferred to the “IER register” – and do not need to do anything further,
• They need to provide additional information to their Electoral Registration Officer in order to be registered under IER.
If you have missed the publicity campaign for this change, you need to look out for a letter from your local Electoral Registration Officer relating to this change. If, by the time you read this newsletter, you have not had your letter, please start asking some questions. Ask me, or phone the Electoral Registration Officer on 01352 702327, to make sure your vote can count when you need it!


11. TTIP

Those few letters stand for the “Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” which sounds all fine, dandy and innocent enough. After all, everyone believes in “Trade & Investment,” surely?
Well, there is an old wisdom that sets out, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy!”
Older readers will be able to cast their minds back to the 1950s, when our politicians at national level talked to us about joining EFTA, a European Free Trade Area, which sounded such a good idea that our nation went for it, totally unaware that without either further consultation, or the informed consent of the population of the British Isles, that entity would swiftly and surreptitiously morf itself into the European Union, clearly aiming to become “The United States of Europe” which most sensible Europeans do not want.

Well, TTIP is the thin end of a very nasty wedge of corporate take-over, instigated by the USA. The negotiations are being carried out in secret, by the unelected European Commissioners. The details of the proposals are even being kept, largely, far away from our elected representatives in Europe, our Euro-MPs.

Not only would it, if agreed and accepted, open up every item of our social fabric and business activity to American corporate clout, starting with the almost guaranteed total privatisation of the NHS, but it would bring with it a form of Investor-Supplier Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that would over-ride our national court system in favour of Tribunals of legal eagles carefully selected and appointed by the pro-USA/WTO/IMF interests. ISDS can be called upon by any corporate entity that believes any sovereign state, County or Town Council has acted in any manner that has diminished or prevented the POTENTIAL profit opportunity of an investor or supplier, usually an American company.

Over the Atlantic, where there is NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Area, involving Mexico, America, Canada and a few South American nations, ISDS arrangement has been in place for a while. Under ISDS rules, a USA fracking company has been awarded $500Million against the Canadian Government, because that government failed to prevent the province of Quebec passing a “No Fracking Law.”

Under the same ISDS rules, the Canadian Government is also being sued for $Millions by a Water Company in California, because Canada has recently limited the amount of fresh water it allows to be exported each year from its lakes and rivers to the State of California.

Under the same rules, the Philip Morris Cigarette Company in the USA is suing the Australian Government for $Billions, for allegedly inhibiting cigarette sales by placing health warnings on cigarette packets.

To bring the issue down to a local level, if Flintshire C.C. were to declare the county a “No Cold Calling Zone,” which action many people would support, ISDS could open the door for “The Texas Pan and Brush Company Inc.” (If there was one!) to sue the county for POTENTIAL loss of profits over umpteen future years because its door to door sales team could no longer operate here. Where would that bill end up? Yep, you guessed it, smack bang in YOUR pocket as an added Community Charge.

Aside from the matter of the NHS being a prime target and the deviltry of the ISDS arrangements, readers may wish to recall that our EU/UK foodstuffs are of sound, safe and reliable quality, because we carefully keep them, by regulation, as close to “natural” as we can. Our regulations prevent animals being given hormone treatments to enhance meat bulk or milk yields. However, in the USA, synthetic hormones such as rBGH and rBSD are commonly used, with Federal approval by dairy farmers to boost milk yields by about 10%. The problem is that milk from such cows is loaded with IGF-1 (Insulin growth factor-1) which has been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer. Similarly, the USA’s Food and Drugs Agency permits Arsenic in chicken feed because it promotes growth, improves their feeding efficiency and boosts pigmentation, making the meat appear pinker. Here in the EU/UK, Arsenic has been banned from poultry feed since 1999. Those are only two of an almost endless list of “No-No” substance to be found in and on USA consumable produce.

What is leaking out from Brussels is a clear vision of the USA attempting to dismantle the EU/UK’s high and safe quality of foodstuffs, so that standards parallel to those of the USA prevail. That may be good for the USA’s export trade figures, but it is bad news for our long-term health and bad news for our children and the future NHS because it will be that entity and us through an increased tax burden, that will have to pick up the bill. That is unless TTIP is agreed and accepted by the EU/UK, in which case us – and our children will be paying directly for our medical needs, whether we can afford it or not!
You are most unlikely to hear anything about TTIP on the BBC or in our national newspapers, because there seems to be a conspiracy of silence about it.

You really do need to take note of these negotiations and demand that they be stopped, right now. Take the time to tell your MP and your Euro-MP of your objections to these TTIP proposals, which are only good for the American Corporations, not us EU and UK residents.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at the websites of the World Development Movement, or Friends of the Earth, where there is a wealth of information about this particular subject.


12. Wrexham CBC and Flintshsire CC Together?

Well, yes, if the Wales Government down in Cardiff decides to accept the major proposals as set out in the Williams Commission, which it set up in April of 2013. Entitled “The Commission on Public Service, Governance and Delivery,” it reported to the Minister at the beginning of this year.

Sir Paul Williams’ report, published in January, proposes major changes in the local government structure in Wales. It also calls for organisations such as health boards, fire services and educational authorities to be re-organised and shaped along the same geographical boundaries as the primary local authorities, the number of which it recommended as being reduced from the present 22, down to 10 or 12, by amalgamations, with the combining of Wrexham and Flintshire local authorities being just one example.
There are also recommendations that would reduce the number of councillors at primary council level, possibly by more than one third.

As far as Town and Community Councils are concerned, the same report sets out that Town and Community Council representation should be maintained and enhanced. To achieve that, it suggests that many of those council areas should be merged or enlarged.
The Williams Commission’s recommendations regarding Town and Community Councils appear to suggest that certain powers, duties and responsibilities should be devolved downwards from primary councils. That of itself, could be a good thing, bringing decisions about local issues closer to the people they affect. Unfortunately, there appears to be no recommendation for any funding or skills transfer, which suggests that if the report’s recommendations are accepted by Cardiff, the Town and Community Councils would be expected to increase their precepts, in order to fund the additional workload. That would mean more cash extracted from our pockets at street level. That, in these days of financial constraint for most of us, we simply do not need.

Wales has a total population of some 4 million people, roughly the same number as Birmingham, which manages quite well with just one council, so some re-organisation back towards the 1996 “Old 9” would appear sensible. However, as the Welsh Local Government Association has pointed out, the present proposals would appear to mean the loss of some 15,000 local government jobs and require something like £200Million in costs of implementation. Those implications are not good news for ordinary people.
Sadly however, change is inevitable. All we can do is to hope that, after thorough consideration, the final decisions coming out of Cardiff are wise and beneficial for all in this small nation.


13. Thank You!

If you have got this far, well done for perseverance. I shall try, in future, not to let so long pass between my newsletters that they end up this long. Finally, if you wish to contact me, please use: 75 Bryn Awelon, Buckley, CH7 2QF for letters, phone me on (01244) 549421(H) or use either of my email addresses of, or