Friday, 15 January 2010

Plaid AM joins the Crusade

Rugby League is coming to Wrexham on Friday, January 29, when Crusaders take on reigning Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos at the Racecourse (kick-off 8pm). And self-confessed rugby league fan Janet Ryder AM was one of the first in line to get her season ticket ready for the big kick off.
 North Wales regional AM Janet Ryder, who is also patron of the Welsh Rugby League, picked up her season ticket for the 2010 Engage Super League Season at the Racecourse Ground from Crusaders Head Coach, Brian Noble, along with First Team Coach Jon Sharp.
Janet, a huge League Rugby enthusiast, said:
“Nothing beats the atmosphere and excitement of watching a live rugby league game and I can't wait to see the Crusaders in action at the Racecourse. The support for rugby league in North Wales is potentially huge and I'm expecting the curtain-raiser against Leeds Rhinos to be a sell-out.
“North Wales has been starved of major sporting events in recent years and I'm sure the people form all over the region will turn out in force to get behind the Crusaders.” 
Mike Turner, Commercial Director of the Crusaders praised the support and help that Janet Ryder had given to the club.
“Janet has been one of the main champions of rugby league in Wales and the club has been very grateful for her support. She has worked tremendously hard to raise the profile of the game in Wales and we're delighted to have her on board.
“We always knew that bringing Super League to Wrexham would be well received by the public, but we have been truly overwhelmed by the support from the local community.
“Ticket sales so far have been very encouraging. We are introducing Super League to a brand new set of fans in Wrexham and are looking forward to people across the region coming out and supporting the Crusaders.”

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Anger at hotel name change

The decision to rename a Flintshire hotel previously known as 'The Gateway to Wales' as 'Days Hotel - Chester North' has been branded as a "creeping Chesterfication" of north-east Wales by Plaid Cymru politicians.

North Wales Assembly Member Janet Ryder said the decision by Wyndham Hotel group to change the hotel's name was a slap in the face for Flintshire, as the county's effort at economic regeneration was being undermined by this unjustified "Chesterfication".

She added that she would be raising the matter with Welsh planning minister Carl Sergeant:
 "As minister for planning law, does the AM for Alyn and Deeside intend to do anything to prevent his constituency from being slowly absorbed into England?"

Janet Ryder added:

 "This re-branding is one of the unforeseen consequences of councils like Flintshire signing up to a long-term plan called the West Cheshire/North East Wales strategy.

"We've heard about Liverpool MPs calling for a Mersey mayor that includes Flintshire and Wrexham. Now we see businesses re-branding themselves as Chester based when they're in Flintshire. Where does it all end?"

Her concerns were echoed by Plaid's General Election candidate for the Alyn and Deeside constituency Maurice Jones:
 "This isn't the first company in Flintshire to mislead the public. The Holiday Inn calls itself Chester West, despite being between Ewloe and Northop. Are they ashamed to be in Wales? The Gateway to Wales was able to market itself using the dragon on the bridge and companies coming to Wales should recognise where they are located."

The West Cheshire/North East Wales strategy is aimed at increasing ties between Cheshire and north-east Wales and there has been huge opposition to it in many communities in Flintshire and Wrexham, where thousands of new houses have been built partly to meet the needs of Cheshire-based commuters. A 15,000-strong petition to the Welsh Assembly Government opposing the strategy and the related Mersey-Dee Alliance has been collected, the largest ever presented to the petitions committee. It will be debated in the Assembly next month.

Plaid's candidate for the general election in Wrexham, Arfon Jones, added: 
"With an election coming up we need to know where our two local Unionist MPs, Mark Tami and Ian Lucas, stand on this creeping Chesterfication of north-east Wales. Do they know whats happening? Or is it they dont care that Welsh identity in this part of Wales is being eroded and they are acquiescing to all of this?"

Council must respond to Bodelwyddan housing referendum - Plaid AM

Plans to treble the size of a Denbighshire village should be thrown out after a massive "no" vote in a local referendum.

Janet Ryder, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: "First of all, I'd like to congratulate the people of Bodelwyddan for braving sub-zero temperatures to vote in their hundreds against a plan that would treble the size of their village.

"This was an overwhelming message as 94% voted against the housing scheme. Denbighshire County Council has decided, without regard for local housing need or any sustainability assessment, to impose an additional 1700 homes on a village of just 800 houses.

"This effectively creates a dormitory town on the A55, ideal for commuters to Chester and Liverpool. It's a worrying development that does not fit in with our determination to reduce the carbon footprint, develop sustainable communities and improve community cohesion in Wales. The people of Bodelwyddan have quite rightly rejected this undemocratic scheme out of hand."

Speaking in the Assembly chamber, she made a plea that the Business Minister Jane Hutt bring forward a debate on the West Cheshire/North East Wales Strategic Plan, which emphasises the need for 20,000 additional houses in North-east Wales, mainly based on the housing demand in North-west England. Janet Ryder added that the village referendum was an explicit rejection of that plan, which had not been endorsed by the people of Wales.

She also challenged Denbighshire County Council to bow to the democratic will of local people and amend their draft Local Development Plan accordingly.

Full result:

Voters 425
Turnout 25.8%

No 394

Yes 30

Spoilt 1

Total 425

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Communities First public inquiry demand by Plaid AM

Serious failings in a multi-million-pound Communities First regeneration project demand that a full public inquiry is held into the entire scheme.

That's the view of Plaid Cymru AM Janet Ryder, who first raised concerns about the Plas Madoc Communities First project near Wrexham. Two senior officers at the project, including chief executive Miriam Beard, have since been suspended while a Wales Audit Office investigation takes place into allegations of misuse of public funds.

Janet Ryder, the regional AM for North Wales, made her request for a public inquiry during First Minister Carwyn Jones's first day of questions in the Assembly today.

 She said: "In light of the ongoing investigation into Plas Madoc Communities First, which has involved the suspension of two senior officers and has raised serious questions about accountability to the local community, I would like the Minister to look at the implications this has for the Communities First programme as a whole.

"Specifically, there appears to be a lack of appropriate checks and balances, partly due to a deficiency in the complaints procedure, and this has implications for other projects throughout Wales. The Auditor General has conducted two investigations into Communities First and found problems.

"I think it's about time we looked further than matters of financial probity. Will the Minister therefore agree to a throughgoing review by WAG into the governance and accountability of Communities First throughout Wales by holding a public inquiry?"

The First Minister confirmed that Communities First projects throughout Wales will receive a further £25m over the next three years.

He also said that the Wales Audit Office have now completed their investigation into Plas Madoc based on "the problems you have uncovered there" and confirmed the report would be released next month. 

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Review into FE barriers facing young people with autism

From the Western Mail:

PARENTS, sufferers and professionals will help an inquiry into autism in further education.
The Welsh Assembly Government will assess the barriers facing young people with autism when they reach college.
The review, conducted by the Assembly’s Enterprise and Learning Committee, will take place in February over two sessions.
It will invite oral and written evidence from affected parties.
The move has been welcomed by the Assembly’s Cross-Party Autism Group (CPAG), which commissioned a damning report on education providers in May.
It revealed that 75% of schools surveyed felt there was a lack of adequate local help available.
Some 58% described FE provision in Wales as inadequate.
Group chair, Plaid Cymru AM Janet Ryder, is backing the new inquiry.
She said: “The research published by the CPAG demonstrates dissatisfaction amongst young people, parents, and schools and colleges with how people with autism are supported in further education.
“All too often, college life for a young person with autism can be one of isolation, where their educational requirements are not understood or accounted for.
“We also know that there are examples of good practice in Wales, often when colleges have improved their awareness of autism, backed up with the appropriate guidance.”
She added: “I look forward to seeing the findings of the inquiry, and expect the Welsh Assembly Government to take them on board.”
The CPAG study, A Snapshot of Autism Education Provision in Wales, was based on information gathered from 33 education providers.
Contributors included statutory and independent special schools, mainstream schools with autism resources and further education colleges.
It examined topics such as the role of the Assembly’s strategic action plan on autism spectrum disorders, and disparities between state and independent provision.
The study followed a number of concerns raised at CPAG meetings that young people with autism in post-16 education were missing out because of a lack of organisation, awareness and understanding.
Rebecca Evans, policy and public affairs officer for the National Autistic Society Cymru, said: “Further education in Wales can be seen as a bridge from childhood into adult life, yet young people with autism often miss out on the benefits when their requirements are not taken into account.
“For example, we have been told of parents who have had under a week between hearing a decision on a placement, and their child beginning college – this does not take into account the anxiety and distress sudden changes can cause for people with autism.
“Although it is a complex condition, we know that the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference,” she added.
The CPAG was established in 2002 to bring individuals, families, professionals and AMs together to discuss issues affecting people with autism, their families and carers.
Autism affects more than 25,000 people in Wales, of whom 6,000 are young people under the age of 18.