Archive for ‘Ewloe Matters’

SEVEN DAYS I REALLY WANT TO FORGET

Anwyls, our voracious developer won yet again, Ewloe Ward yet again taking the hit! The Planning Inspector ruled that it was ok to build 41 posh houses on quality arable land, ignoring all usual planning rules which don’t normally allow houses to be built outside the settlement boundary, in open countryside/green barrier, etc. Ewloe, a B band settlement is way over its statutory limit & has had more building than Holywell; A band category! Having read the detailed report, cynics believed it was a political decision with greater weight being placed on Welsh Government’s imperious demand for a five years supply of land to be secured. Residents were entitled to believe that the 41 houses would hardly swell the shortfall which currently exist as this Council has failed to deliver its ratio. Rather than trundling out ministerial edicts, which certainly means more green belt will be sacrificed for bricks & concrete, steps should be taken to insist that developers stop hoarding land & speed up building on what they own. Croes Atti, Oakenholt is a glaring example of failing to develop less profitable sites. Planning consent has existed since 2006 & if 300 + houses were actually built, the Authority’s …..

January Blog

New year seems so long ago. First engagement as Hawarden community council chair was the celebration of 10 years of the “Hawarden Walks” on 9th January. Walkers have met regularly in Hawarden Institute, their HQ, for 10 years. The walks; ” 60 minutes rapid or slow, or 90 minutes brisk. Something for everyone. The original pioneers of this remarkable success story, including Colin Herbert, were introduced along with Walk Leaders, sporting Day Glow jackets depicting their names. Colin, the chief Hawarden Walker Supremo & Heather, Institute manager produced a cake. We enjoyed a joint blowing out of the 10 birthday candles. Over the years, thousands of walks have been enjoyed. No one is too old, dogs are welcome & the spirit of friendship of the walking fraternity is strong.mI recommend anyone who feels lonely, to give them a try. You’ll be impressed. BLUE BADGE BLUES. A stressed Mrs S rang just before Christmas. Her very immobile husband learnt, out of the blue, that his Blue Badge,(BB), was to be withdrawn in January. Her attempts to get some sensible response from Flintshire officers failed & she was being bounced from one department to another. Hubby was completely grounded without the badge. …..

DECEMBER BLOG

Flintshire’s Council met on 25th November. As the Chair’s pastor was away, Cllr Chris Bithell led prayers. Nothing wrong in how he conducted worship of course. It’s just a pity like a Whited Sepulchre, he didn’t seek forgiveness for himself for making those ghastly smears to my reputation at that stressful Planning Meeting some months ago. See Blog Passim. His disgustingly unfair remarks still await a simple apology which would then draw a line under that unpleasant incident. Cllrs. had to debate the financial future of the North Wales Fire & Rescue Service & what will be their role over the next few years? The six county councils share the Fire & Rescue Authority from council budgets. With all Local Authorities budgets under sever strain, the choices are bleak. Welsh Government have decimated local authority budgets so where do we go to fund this essential service? Freeze or cut the Fire & Rescue Authority budget, OR increase it & protect services? Tricky this: this brave Profession puts its life on the line to save house from burning down or cutting victims out of multiple road crashes. Can we really cut their budgets too? Council leader, Aaron Shotton went for the …..

Welsh Government’s Creditability incinerated And Goals Galore!

Hawarden High School’s Annual Service of remembrance is always moving. The standard for the 7th November event was as high as ever. The most prolific contribution for reading & singing came from a pupil I had interviewed for a Rotary Outward Bound course. This was the icing on the cake to help her goal of becoming Head Girl. Goal achieved. She & the Head Boy read out the list of the fallen. Last Post sounded & a deep silence descended. Clapping was reserved to the end of the service and it was well deserved. MY GOAL. My goal as Chair of the Community Council was to march in parade from Gladstone Playing Fields, climb the steps of Hawarden Cenotaph & lay a wreath without falling base over apex in front of a large crowd. No big deal surely? It’s less then a mile & 5 steps up and 5 steps down! Marching had been off limits because of dodgy legs; plate in ankle, full knee replacements, two previously ruptured Achilles’ tendons & worn back discs. Infuriated when a weighty Cllr bellowed across the room at a Civic Service a few months ago, “you seem to be less mobile than you …..

LABOUR ‘SPINS’, (again), AND MY ADORED FIDGET DIES

Her sudden death is too painful to describe yet so I’ll ease my grief by blogging about amazing recent statements from our senior Labour leaders; including Mark Tami M.P, who claims Flintshire has been “stitched up” over the massive waste burning plant heading for Deeside. This chimes with another accusation. “ All the fault of the previous administration”, bleats, Council Leader, Aaron Shotton. “Our hands are tied” as £71m is the cancellation cost”. Although Flintshire is the lead Authority for the North Wales Regional Partnership, to blame the Coalition for being stuck with just one tender & huge cancellation fees if we pulled out is unfair & basically untrue . Consultants were paid handsomely to advice the Regional Partnership & with our Chief Executive was in the driving seat as Project Head, FCC was the lead authority. Why did they get it all so wrong? Aaron Shotton blames the Deeside incinerator decision onto the Coalition. Waste disposal was aired a committee and if they were not content, Labour cllrs. could have been called in! So who was responsible for bouncing this Authority into the costly Deeside incinerator & ending up with just one tender. A site in Anglesey was earmarked …..

Labour Heavyweights Strike Back?

“Revenge is a dish best served cold”. The first item on the Audit Committee Agenda should have been named “Revenge & Retribution” as a new chairman had to be elected for the year. I had been privileged to hold this post for the past two years, courtesy of Labour. Suddenly all that was about to change. Weeks ago, a Cllr shocked me rigid by asking: “Did you know you’re going to be sacked as chair of Audit?” He even named my successor. What had I done to offend my former patrons? Was it because I could not recommend to full Council that the annual statement of accounts had been thoroughly scrutinised way back last September? We had examined this huge Statement of Accounts in June & then saw the papers when they arrived late for the September 2013 Committee I told my Tory group I was worried as the Audit Committee had not been given the time allowed to scrutinise the annual statement of accounts &, thus, I was not willing to ask full Council to accept them. I was unanimously advised to defer the meeting & as chair I was allowed to do so. The power of a Committee …..

RUNNING FAST TO STANDSTILL.

Like buses that always arrive 3 at a time, my council meetings invariably all stack up into a three day whirl of committee papers and meetings followed by a fallow meeting-free week. So, the last days of September have found me immersed in Planning, County Council and Audit committee papers, and then on the Monday 7th, October, planning site visits followed straight away that afternoon by a meeting with Chairs of Scrutiny Committees & then on to chair our Audit Committee. Not bad for one who retired in 1992 as a colleague said. The 25 September was however a black day in my personal councillor calendar, when on strong constitutional grounds and on this occasion a very last minute delivery of the committee papers, I agreed with some members advice that the meeting needed to be postponed as we simply had no time to do justice to a massive document which had some highly challengeable reports and recommendations. We had only seen it in draft form as the committee cycle operated, a few weeks earlier, and when we finally got the papers much had changed. As Chair, I simply could not recommend it to full Council. The rest is history. …..

BACK TO THE BLOGGING

CHEERS FOR NEW LEADER JOURNALIST. At Hawarden Community Council, Monday night, a young woman slipped in and started taking notes. I sincerely hope that she publishes what she heard as without exception, cllrs are sick of being given the proverbial “two fingers” by the Chief Constable who together with his officers have let us down. The elected members are now on a collision course as every request to ask officers to attend the occasional council meeting is just ignored. For 18 months we’ve tried every tack to keep a dialogue going with our local police. Months ago, a community support officer would attend which always led to a useful exchange of information between cllrs and cops but not now. I’ve tried to stick up for them, saying that their time is too precious to meet every month and let’s try a regular email exchange or meeting with us. So often over the months, the police’s grand promises of improved communications have just fizzled out. The best North Wales police can do is to delegate a temporary inspector( sergeant) to drop us a line. We’ve invited the Police Commissioner to address us but that produced a vague letter from his CE …..

BUDGET BLOG. (The usual smoke and mirrors annual event)

The chamber was full for Friday afternoon budget meeting at County hall on St David’s Day. Even a sick member had been dragged from his bed to bring out the vote. Setting a budget is a legal requirement and hard choices are inevitable. But the Lib Dems had located a pot of money available to be spent and my group, as part of the Opposition tabled an amendment that offered innovative ways of helping the community. Four really good schemes were outlined by Robin Guest the Lib Dem leader, buoyant from the Eastleigh election result. He had to demand that our amendment was handed out for members to read and he was cross that Labour had already quickly circulated amazing changes to their own budget proposals. These late submissions made a mockery of the official budget proposal we had received within the proper committee time frame. Our proposals would enable play schemes to continue as before with help from Town and Community councils as grants had been slashed. We would give a swimming subsidy of £23K to help Flintshire compete at all levels, spend £17K on keeping open public loos in Caerwys and Cilcain and give £96K for a one …..

Hunting the Northern Lights. Not only in Norway, by the way!.

My one unfulfilled ambition was to see the Aura Borealis. The papers had been full of promises that this year would be great as the sun was to have a solar spectacular that would ensure a good showing. So I booked last January and gave myself the best chance with Hurtigrutten. (Fast passage). It’s a coastal ferry that travels the length of Norway and goes almost off the planet as far up as the North Cape. 12 days, 8 of which were in the Arctic Circle should do the trick, I thought. The boat , the food and the scenery were brilliant and I was chuffed that I did not guess the exact time the boat cruised into the circle and win the prize of a company flag signed by the captain. The winner was the first to line up on deck to celebrate crossing the “line” . King Neptune, assisted by a crew member in polar bear garb officiated and a large bucket of iced water was produced. In order to get the free slug of brandy, the poor unfortunates had to suffer a ladle of water down the neck. Companion & I followed the bear and we slunk …..