Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Support for labour insider Sophie Howe from IWA Anna McMorrin worked and played with Former Minister Natural Resources Alun Davies

Surprise, surprise! An immediate outburst of support from the not so independent IWA for labour insider Sophie Howe by Anna McMorrin Former Minister Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies partner

Find the IWA article here 
Support for Sophie Howe political appointment as £95k Future Generations from Anna McMorrin. Not mentioned is that Anna McMorrin is the woman the Welsh Government moved to another role 'as she was a specialist adviser involved in a relationship with her Minister Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies who left his partner with whom he has a young child for her.' quote from the article So not unbias!

IWA The Institute of Welsh Affairs claims to be an independent, membership-based think tank
- its director since April 2013, Lee Waters a former Chief Political Correspondent for ITV Wales and BBC Wales producer. Lee waters is also the Welsh Labour & Co-operative Assembly Candidate for Llanelli.
#Labour aristocrats

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Unqualified labour insider Sophie Howe given £95k top sustainability job

Sophie Howe (@sophiehowe) tweeted at 7:31 AM on Tue, Nov 03, 2015:
'Thrilled to be appointed as 1st Future Generations Commissioner. Massive opportunity for Wales to lead the way on sustainable development'

Any one who cares about the environment and sustainable development will be horrified in the Hello - Who is Sophie Howe See her CV on Linkedin  No experience of anything to do with the environment. From labour councillor to former First Minister Rhodri Morgan adviser to Former adviser to Carl Sargeant  Deputy Police to deputy Crime Commissioner to Alun Michael 
BBC reports 'Labour insider' gets Future Generations Commissioner £95k  job
The advertisement for the Future Generations Commissioner stated the new post holder 'will act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales at a salary of up to £95,000.  See  New £95k Welsh government commissioner role criticised

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (the Act) The Act which led to this job being created puts in place a ‘sustainable development principle’ which tells organisations how to go about meeting their duty under the Act. 

Sophie Howe has No qualifications to deliver on that remit as she has no expertise in this area or even shown an interest. Sad that this is such a blatantly a labour party fix, the nepotism is indistinct from corruption   .... appointment. Sophie Howe linkedin CV leaves out her early history - straight from Uni to political job   'a
fter graduating from University, Sophie worked as a Research/Casework Assistant for both Julie Morgan MP and Sue Essex AM. She is currently employed as the Legal Services Manager at the Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales, where she manages the Legal Department and helpline' ...Her EHRC job has been spun up in her linkedin CV.  

Friends of the Earth Cymru said there was a "real danger" the role could be compromised.
. says as new Future Generations Commissioner sends signal that there's no interest in challenging government.

Linked to this - Which other labour luvvies/insiders have been appointed to the new natural resources Wales board
iolo ap dafydd (@apdafyddi) tweeted at 8:41 AM on Tue, Nov 03, 2015:
#NRW. Lots of comments about lack of conservation expertise of some new board members appointed by Welsh Gov. Even   "who r they?" quips.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Cardiff liveable/most deprived city under Labour/Bale

The truth about Cardiff: 

Reality Check 
  1. Only two other councils in Wales have a higher proportion of people living in deprivation
  2. More than 60,000 Cardiffians are among the most deprived 10% in Wales, particularly in areas such as Ely, Caerau, Adamsdown, Splott and Llanedeyrn.
  3. Just under a quarter of children live in low-income families – a figure which masks the huge disparity between Ely’s 48% and Lisvane’s 3%.
  4. Housing is relatively unaffordable, with the average price being six times that of the average salary. NO MENTION OF THE WAITING LIST for housing 
  5. Cardiff substantially trails other UK core cities including Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool in terms of average incomes.
  6. Average overall life expectancy is 11 and a half years longer in Radyr compared to Butetown.
  7. A city addicted to its cars - Cardiff does not rate well when compared to other cities in terms of carbon emissions, and also has a relatively few people commuting by bus or train.
The report has been commissioned by Cardiff Council, with obvious bias to the issues that give them a good mark.  It nevertheless shows poor performance, including NEETs and deprived communities that relate to Cardiff's emphasis on business and profitable developments.

Bus usage has dropped significantly (4.2% drop in ridership in one year), due partly to cuts in Council subsidy.  Increased traffic congestion is also hitting bus service viability.  Assessing congestion is essential, as it worsens liveability for car-users as well as bus-users.

It uses dodgy cycling statistics to claim third place behind Bristol and Manchester. Cardiff uses telephone surveys (AskCardiff) which come significantly higher than the Census and traffic counts.  The recent Sustrans claim from a telephone survey of a 28% jump in cycling in one year is improbable.

Housing is relatively unaffordable in Cardiff while the city scores badly on the multiple deprivation index. So nothing is said about the housing waiting list and low fraction of new-build affordable homes.  The latter reflects Cardiff's high propensity to exempt house-builders even from the low 20% fraction.

Cardiff Council in 2014 had the highest number of applicants waiting over five years or over, with 1,297 people waiting over that time. Try the waiting time Calculator

Pavement parking is rife in Cardiff, along with damaged pavements and poor pedestrian facilities.  Cardiff boasts of its traffic enforcement powers, but makes limited use of them, so respect for traffic law remains low.  The use of cameras to detect trespassers on bus lanes is viewed as a money-raising racket, while rotten conditions for walking remain unaddressed despite pretensions on 'active travel'.

Cardiff suffers from traffic pollution, with central streets (Westgate and St Marys Streets AQMA) suffering NO2 levels above the legal maximum.  Action is required to address this issue, but Cardiff cynically worsens it by planning ever more traffic from its Central Square developments.

Cardiff claims the Metro major project will add to a prosperous city, yet they've excluded Metro-trams from the integrated transport hub.  The planned interchange is so small and cramped, with congested accesses, to take just half the city buses and few, if any, coach services.
Satisfaction is one index in which Cardiff scores highly.  Does this reflect low expectations of Cardiff residents or the success of Cardiff's publicity machine ?

A city addicted to its cars

Cardiff does not rate well when compared to other cities in terms of carbon emissions, and also has a relatively few people commuting by bus or train.                                 However, only two cities – Bristol and Manchester – have more commuting by bike.
The report of it walesonline.seems to have other headline statistics in it, which are dodgy, eg. 28% increase in bike use in one year, probably from Cdf Council.

A one-off telephone survey (1100 only) should not be compared with survey by different methods (certainly not without careful cross-checking) - the comparison of last year was probably the AskCardiff survey of the council panel.  Those who agreed to participate in this survey may have been biased by the purpose (Bike-use survey).
  It was a survey in early summer of memories of trips and trip-numbers in the previous 4-weeks, plus opinion-survey questions that are biased by peoples' guilt-feelings on not cycling more.
  Journey-to-work fraction is far higher than earlier surveys (50% rather than 24% of all trips). Headline trip-number 11.5million p.a. is probably low (should check with Council figs) but can only be crude as grossed up from such survey figures.
  The purpose of such a 'survey' is publicity and promotional; Cardiff is sponsor and is misusing statistics.  Sustrans is promoting their preference for separate paths and cycling on pavements, against cycling in bus lanes, with answers dominated by those who seldom/never cycle, often because of excessive concerns over safety. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cardiff planners indulge in legalised practice of fiddling figures that represents “a wholesale fraud on the public purse

UPDATE  - Of course Plans for 23-storey apartment building in Cardiff city centre approved by 7 to 1 

The committee at yesterday's meeting were assured 36 social housing units would be built with the £510k. ....14,167 each???

There is a desperate need for social and affordable housing in Cardiff yet planners are set to approve a 23-storey apartment building 14/02887/MJR (this Wed planning committee Room 4 - County Hall) in Cardiff city centre 
letting the developers off the 20% affordable housing (36 units) obligation or equivalent £2,206,320 financial contribution NOW reduced to ... £510,000 to ...provide affordable housing offsite,

£510,000 to provide affordable housing offsite, how many units would that provide? Not the required 20% = 36 units of housing ...Scandalous 

In line with the emerging LDP, an affordable housing contribution of 20% of the 180 units (36 units) is sought on this brown-field site. 20% which represents a reduction from the previous requirment of 30% on brownfield sites. 

'Viability assessments' have been well exploited by London developers leading to a huge decline in affordable/social housing units built and now Cardiff.  Much of the reason lies hidden in these developers’ viability assessments and the dark arts of accounting, which have become all-powerful tools in the way our cities are being shaped.
It is a phenomenon, in the view of housing expert Dr Bob Colenutt at the University of Northampton, that “threatens the very foundations of the UK planning system”; a legalised practice of fiddling figures that represents “a wholesale fraud on the public purse”. What was once a statutory system predicated on ensuring the best use of land has become, in Colenutt’s and many other experts’ eyes, solely about safeguarding the profits of those who want to develop that land.
What is the point of planning policies when developers can be so easily flout them and planning officers are all too ready to play along with this 'fiddle' 

Viability assessment “is that it has nothing to do with the scheme’s viability at all, and everything to do with its profitability for the developer”. It is also all perfectly legal. 

For viability read profitablity 

With the private sector now calling the tune on affordable housing, while hiding the score in a locked room, it’s not hard to see why the chief executive of the National Housing Federation, David Orr, recently told his members that developers are “leading local authorities on a merry dance”.

“It’s not so much a dance, as running rings around them,” says planning expert Duncan Bowie, a lecturer at the University of Westminster. “Every consultant knows how to fiddle the figures in their client’s interests, but most planning officers simply don’t get it. Local authorities have really lost the plot on this.”
What has Cllr Michael Michael chair of the planning cmte to say on this? Anybody know? 
Many consultants are now paid bonuses for successfully reducing the number of affordable units in a scheme; indeed an entire industry has grown up around the art of dodging planning obligations. 
Revealed: how developers exploit flawed planning system to minimise affordable housing 

What excuses have they come up with to allow the developers J R Smart 

5.51 However, given the proposed design of the scheme, the unknown proposed future tenure of the units, the likely service charges for this type of residential development and the mixture of commercial and residential, all of the above could affect the affordability as well as the practicality of managing and maintaining affordable housing on-site for a Registered Social Landlord. 

5.52 As an alternative to on-site provision at Herbert Street, we would be willing to accept the provision of affordable rented housing as: (a) Off-site on another site in the vicinity. The site must deliver the equivalent number of units (36 units); or if a site cannot deliver the full 36 units then we would be willing to accept a combination of affordable rented housing units and a financial contribution to make up for any shortfall in units. The site must come forward within the same timescales as the Herbert Street site. For information, any affordable housing scheme should be appraised on a NIL Social Housing Grant (SHG) basis, and, the indicative amounts that a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) would pay for the units is based on an intermediate rent level and is specified below:
 • 24 x 1 bed apartments (at an RSL purchase price of £60,000) 
 • 12 x 2 bed apartments (at an RSL purchase price of £77,548) 

Please note that the above price relates to the properties only and any additional service charges for unadopted roads, public open space, public realm etc will not be due by any future residents of the affordable housing units. 
OR (b) As a financial contribution in lieu of the on-site affordable housing provision. On that basis we would seek a financial contribution of £2,206,320 (in lieu of 36 units) which is calculated in accordance with the formula in the Affordable Housing – Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) (2007). 5.53 Please note that in respect of financial viability, the District Valuer Report (April 2015) advised that the above level of affordable housing contribution was financially viable. 

8.24 Section 106 obligations: The total s106 requirement calculated in accordance with Council policy and guidance is £2,870,506. 
The breakdown is as follows:
 • 20% affordable housing (36 units) or equivalent £2,206,320 financial contribution
 • £153,710 for educational facilities
 • £254,210 for public open space
 • £106,266 for community facilities • £150,000 for highway alterations and improvements

8.25 The applicant provided a viability appraisal, prepared by Savills and dated January 2015, which concludes that any 106 requirements to provide affordable housing or other 106 contributions in excess of the £150,000 offered towards highway alterations/ improvements will have a negative impact on the viability of the scheme.

 8.26 In accordance with the established practice of obtaining an independent assessment of viability appraisals presented in support of planning applications the Council commissioned the District Valuer (DV) to prepare an assessment of Savill’s viability appraisal. The DV’s amended draft report dated 21.9.15 concluded that the level of Section 106 obligations sought by the Council rendered the scheme unviable.

 8.27 Following discussions with the applicant on the nature and extent of the abnormal costs identified in the draft DV report, in particular the design enhancement costs identified by the applicant, and in order to progress the application, the applicant has formally offered the sum of £625,000 to mitigate the effects of the development in respect of community facilities, open space provision, education and the provision of affordable housing

8.30 Having considered the contents and conclusion of the DV’s draft report, and in the interests of progressing the application, it is considered that the sum offered and the terms are acceptable. However in drawing up the UU the omission of standard provisions enabling the viability of the scheme to be reviewed at a later date would have to be conditional on the scheme being progressed within an agreed time period, such period to commence on the signing of the 106

8.25 The applicant provided a viability appraisal, prepared by Savills and dated January 2015, which concludes that any 106 requirements to provide affordable housing or other 106 contributions in excess of the £150,000 offered towards highway alterations/ improvements will have a negative impact on the viability of the scheme. 8.26 In accordance with the established practice of obtaining an independent assessment of viability appraisals presented in support of planning applications the Council commissioned the District Valuer (DV) to prepare an assessment of Savill’s viability appraisal. The DV’s amended draft report dated 21.9.15 concluded that the level of Section 106 obligations sought by the Council rendered the scheme unviable.

Labour's betrayal on "affordable housing" challeng... 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Cardiff council equality officer 'most people drive due to the inaccessibility of Public transport''

Cardiff councils senior equality officer 'most people drive due to the inaccessibility of Public transport'' so refuses to consider bus users accessibility to his own meetings to consider equality impact statements for central Square and the Metro 

Cardiff Council Access Focus Group (CCAFG), was to meet on 02/10/2015
What is this group about - in their own words 
Cardiff CouncilAccess Focus Group Cardiff Council set up an Access Focus Group in 2008, in partnership with the Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People. The Group was set up to make sure that everyone can easily access and enjoy Cardiff's Civic buildings, shops, public places, leisure facilities, streets and public transport network. The Access Focus Group meets once a month and includes a wide range of disability organisations, equality groups and members of the public who are passionate about access for all. The Group gives advice on many different aspects of access to the city centre, and has tested facilities like St David's, Park and Ride, Cardiff Castle and Cardiff International White Water to improve accessibility. The Group has an open membership and welcomes new members. If you are interested in getting involved please contact Dr Robert Gravelle, Cardiff Council Access Officer. Page 1 @:

 Cardiff Councils equalities officer
 'Public transport is inaccessible'   
Cardiff Councils senior equalities officer Dr Robert Gravelle who has a very grand title and boasts lots of letters after his name excludes people from his meeting because they use public transport. Even worse he dismisses the idea of using public transport saying  'most people drive due to the inaccessibility of Public transport '  
He should be sacked as he doesn't understand what he there for.. lacks any insight.  How can he advise on accessibilty? He is letting down disbabled, elderly and public transport users. How can he write an equality impact statement on anything if he dismisses bus users so rudely and excludes them from meetings.

Email to Dr Robert Gravelle   Lead on Equalities...
Lead Manager Design Compliance - Ensuring the delivery of technical compliance with BSI, Equalities Act 2010 and H&S Directorate wide, including development of Functions, Policies, Work Place Protocals, Scheme Proposals, Works and Planning Applications. Lead Equalities And Access Training and awareness - Policy / Delivery

I've been reminded of a very good point.
Since the buses are on strike, many of us will not be able to get to the meeting and would be unfair on those where the strikes are most impacting to their commutes into County Hall, therefore I highly recommend cancellation of the meeting today.
On 2 October 2015 at 10:30, Gravelle, Robert <> wrote:
 this is not an option Sorry – however you will have opportunity to contribute via email and Post. 
Thanks for your advise
Section Leader H&S, BSI, EqIA / Arweinydd Is-adran (Asesiadau o’r Effaith ar Gydraddoldeb, Iechyd a Diogelwch, Sefydliad Safonau Prydeinig)

Thanks Mate, actually most people drive due to the inaccessibility of Public transport so you’re the only one (bar Gill from the Vale) who has commented.

Hopefully you can attend and 
Thanks Rob 

Dr Robert Gravelle

The Agenda they were discussing  ..
CCAFG Members Invite / Agenda 02/10/2015
The day’s topic is the Metro Station Improvement Project (MSIP) and is being conducted by the Welsh Government in partnership with the contractor Chandler-KBS, for all train stations on the Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil line.

The project is focusing on physical train station improvements and not general train services. In particular, the workshop will look at addressing the needs of the protected characteristics as user groups as defined by the Equality Act 2010. These groups are: age, disability, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and Welsh language speakers.

This Engagement workshop go towards the creation of an Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA), and will help to identify any further changes that may be needed to suit the needs of the wider community, including those with a range of disabilities.

Supplementary Planning GuidanceApproved by Council March 2008
It is intended that your input during this event will assist in the improvements process and add to towards greater accessibility to the train stations regardless of impairment, disability or need.

The meeting will take place on:-

Date -                     2nd October (Friday)
Time -                     1pm coffees – 2pm meeting kick off
Location: -             Committee room 4 – County Hall
Subject: -               Workshop – Metro Station Improvement Project (MSIP)
                                    (meeting not as previously announced)

Agenda Items for Discussion:
1.              Introductions
2.              Central Square Update – Cardiff Council Senior officer
3.              Todays Topic Background – Metro Station Improvement Project (MSIP) (Background information and large plans etc provided on the day)
Presentation and Workshop
4.       CCAFG – Terms and Evolution Discussion
5.       AOB 
6.       Date of next Meeting - TBC

Please confirm your attendance as soon as possible:-
·          BSL / Braille will not be available without your confirmed attendance
·          Car Parking is Free (more is available in the Dragon Centre)
·          Papers provided on the day
·          Tea and Coffee will be provided

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at the below email and telephone number and I very much look forward to working with you all again !!

Kind Regards

Dr Robert Gravelle
Section Leader H&S, BSI, EqIA / Arweinydd Is-adran (Asesiadau o’r Effaith ar Gydraddoldeb, Iechyd a Diogelwch, Sefydliad Safonau Prydeinig)
Room 301 / Ystafell 301
Cardiff Council  / Cyngor Caerdydd 
County Hall  / Neuadd y Sir 
Cardiff  / Caerdydd
CF10 4UW.

Tel / Ffôn : (02920) 87 26 27    
E-bost :   

In 2010, as a result of the major redevelopment of the city centre, Cardiff Council employed a specific Access Officer and created the Cardiff Council Access Focus Group. Both these objectives have been very successful in improving the way that the disabled community's voice is represented in our schemes policies and projects. This also ensures that we comply with our duties within the Equalities Act 2010, building regulations and a number of other legislative requirements. 

Supplementary Planning GuidanceApproved by Council March 2008

Cardiff Bus says NO to Health Minsters promised bus service

What a pathetic service- instead of the major hospital at Llandough providing for a proper public transport service and to make up for Cardiff Bus refusing to drive into the site as Mark Drakeford AM promised. As a result patients needing hip replacements have to walk right to the end of the hospital complex from the bus stop at the gate. The health minister Liebours Mark Drakeford letting patients down yet again. 

They've spent millions on a car park and  parking bays but cant run a bus service into the grounds leaving elderly and disabled patients struggling to depend on limited charity lifts. 
Under recent proposals, services at Rookwood's neurological and spinal services would move from its current World War Two era site in Llandaff, to a new unit at University Hospital Llandough by 2017.


New shuttle service at UHL

A new courtesy shuttle service has launched at a local hospital to assist patients and visitors around the site.

University Hospital Llandough (UHL) has received funding from the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) to run a 12 month pilot courtesy shuttle service to transport patients to and from the car parks and main entrances of the hospital site.

The volunteer led service will initially run Monday to Friday between 9am and 11am with a view to expand the times offered through the help of local volunteers.

Peter Welsh, General Manager at University Hospital Llandough said: “We offer free parking at UHL but as the site is quite large sometimes patients and visitors can be parked further away from the hospital entrances than they wish. In recognition of this we welcome the funding from the RVS which has enabled us to pilot this courtesy shuttle service to assist them around the hospital site.

“We welcome feedback from any users of the service which will help us to improve what is offered with a hope to extending the pilot next year.”

RVS has been working to coordinate a number of volunteers to help expand the service throughout the week. Any volunteers who would be willing to assist or would like to find out more should contact RVS on 02920 027855 or you can email

Volunteers will have to sign up with RVS and provide two referees and have a clean driving licence before any volunteering can commence.  Times can be agreed in line with volunteers with the aim to enable the shuttle service to run until 4pm every weekday.

RVS is a registered charity founded in 1938 as the Women’s Voluntary Services for Air Raid Precautions. Today they work successfully alongside hospitals, local authorities and other organisations, providing much-needed support for older people – delivered with warmth and friendliness by our dedicated volunteers.

RVS donated £13,000 to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to provide the service at its UHL site. RVS and Cardiff and Vale UHB have worked in partnership on a number of initiatives starting in 1938.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Questions on Wedal Road

Points for today's Cabinet item on Wedal Road 1st October, 2015 2.00 pm

Questions that need to be asked. Duty under the Act to provide HWRCs  "reasonably accessible" to residents of  the area, interpreted as most residents  of Cardiff.

"Reasonably accessible" must be interpreted as applying to "Active Travellers"  by bike and bus, under Active Travel (Wales) Act

Not enough to agree to design the immediate accesses to Lamby Way and B Bessemer close for cycles and walkers - though that's necessary.  Must also locate HWRC sites to be reasonably accessible for cycle access, ie. within 20 minutes or 2-3mile travel.  That includes a road safe for cycling, which Lamby Way full  of lorries is not.

To meet protests over Wedal Rd closure, the Council or its leader have suggested Wedal Rd may be retained to collect recyclable/reusable furniture,   electrical goods etc.  Also suggested a new HWRC for north Cardiff (industrial   area near Llanishen Leisure Centre).  We need similar in west Cardiff, so will they do a u-turn and  look into using Waungron Rd site similarly?
 Waungron Rd has pretty good accessibility for cyclist  and bus users from a Wide area, for whom Bessemer Close is not "reasonably accessible".

There appears to be funding available, from the contingency for waste management, in view of the £610,000 found for the extraordinary item to assist Viridor's recycling


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Rotten Boroughs Cllr Michael Michael story

Cardiff Labour Cllr Michael Michael chair of planning stars in Private Eye Rotten Boroughs article 'Taking the Michael twice' 

We've covered this story here before 

Cllr Neil McEvoy said the application would be lucrative if passed.

 The private story doesn't mention the fact that 

"The proposal seeks to extend the existing footprint forward towards Plas Mawr Road by approximately 5.5 metres and northwards towards the boundary with the neighbouring three storey commercial/residential block. It is proposed to extend over land which currently forms part of a hard surfaced area to the front and side of the building over which there is public access." 

and belongs to the council still as far as we know. I have complained to the ethics committee and Cardiff council but haven't even had an acknowledgement.