Monday, 3 January 2011

Ynys Môn in 2011

Croeso i 2011
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd! Happy New Year to you all!

Making predictions is a perilous business -- however in order to understand what problems potentially lie ahead and to plan effectively to counter them we need to have a view of what to look out for over the year ahead. Accordingly I'm happy to stick my neck out and share with you what I think 2011 has in store for Ynys Môn:

Anglesey County Council

Wales's highest paid civil servant, David Bowles - the Assembly Government appointed Interim MD to IoACC - will certainly leave the council this year. His two year contract will end in September -- though he may very well leave even earlier in order to save costs. There will be no direct replacement; instead in all likelihood Gwynedd's Chief Executive Harry Thomas will take over the running of both Anglesey and Gwynedd with an Anglesey-based Deputy appointed from within IoACC. There will no doubt be a pruning of heads of departments as several functions are shared between Gwynedd and Anglesey.

Politically 2011 will be an unpredictable year for the Council. The departure of David Bowles will no doubt have a large impact on Councillors and it will be interesting to see if the contentious Terms of Engagement will survive him -- or whether Harry Thomas will be as keen to enforce them. It is also likely that 2011 will see the two Councillors reported to the Ombudsman have their day before Adjudication Panel for Wales -- leading to untold consequences inside the council chamber whatever the judgement.

The ruling Alliance, made up of Plaid Cymru, Labour, and two groups of Independents, is already suffering from a number of stress-fractures and it is difficult to see it surviving the year -- particularly considering that in addition to the changes outlined above it will also be forced to push through unpopular cuts. The local council elections in 2012 will begin to weigh ever heavier on Councillors minds as the year unfolds.

The Island Economy

2011 will be a very difficult year for the UK as the government begins to implement policies designed to reduce the national deficit, forcing us to come to terms with the systematic overspending of the past decade. Despite its status as the poorest place in the UK, Ynys Môn will not be immune to this process and will be affected by the VAT and fuel duty rises, changes to welfare payments, and reduced council services amongst others.

Fortunately there should be some light on the 'horizon' for the Island. Following the coalition government's quick action to both approve Wylfa as a 'preferred' nuclear location and introduce measures to ensure the profitability of low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear, 2011 should be the year when Horizon officially indicates it will proceed to build Wylfa B. This will provide a huge boost to Ynys Môn's ailing economy by providing in the short-term huge numbers of construction jobs -- hopefully coming in time to take the strain caused by job losses elsewhere. The construction phase will take several years and bring with it a large influx of workers which will boost Anglesey's retail and housing sectors in addition to other small businesses.

The other major employers on the Island -- the port of Holyhead and RAF Valley -- will hopefully not see any major changes in 2011. The Search and Rescue function will certainly be retained at Valley, whilst announcements regarding the future of the T Mk 1 Hawks are not expected until 2012. With regards to Holyhead, with traffic through the port anyway down since the collapse of building boom in Ireland, people who I have spoken to at the port don't believe that passenger numbers will be further affected by the current economic turmoil in Ireland -- which is cautiously good news.

However, in the long term, the most important sector for the Island economy in 2011 will be its small and medium sized indigenous businesses. In addition to the benefits they will accrue from the construction of Wylfa B, they will also be helped by the reduction in April 2011 of corporation tax for small businesses from 21% to 20% and the ongoing National Insurance holiday for new qualifying businesses outside of the South East. Unfortunately they will receive little help from the Welsh Assembly Government itself. Small businesses in Wales already pay higher business rates than anywhere else in the UK (in this context it should be noted that the Welsh Conservatives pledge to remove all small businesses with a rateable value below £10,000 out of business rates altogether -- benefitting approx. 19,000 North Wales small firms) and Ieuan Wyn Jones's misdirected Economic Renewal Programme has removed any support from Anglesey's small businesses through halving the total budget and then limiting all economic support to certain sectors only. Furthermore Ieuan Wyn Jones recent calls to delay income tax bills for small firms would do nothing but modify cash flow -- instead of an overall reduction in outflow, like a business rate reduction would do. We need to find ways of reducing bills for small businesses not simply moving the problem until later.

Môn Mam Cymru

Proportionately more people are employed in fields related to farming and agriculture on Anglesey than anywhere else in North Wales. Accordingly we need a healthy and profitable farming industry -- however Anglesey's farms will begin to come under great pressure towards the end of 2011. Single Farm Payments, worth around £10 million per annum to Ynys Môn, are denominated in Euros (at an exchange rate set on 30th September each year) and are therefore vulnerable to the current Euro crisis being played out on the continent. Should other Eurozone countries join Greece and Ireland then it is possible that the sterling value of Single Farm Payments scheduled for December 2011 will be much reduced. On top of this WAG's new agri-environment scheme 'Glastir'  -- which will eventually replace the existing four schemes (Tir Mynydd, Tir Cynnal, Tir Gofal, and the Organic Farming Scheme) -- has been lambasted by farmers for offering too little financial incentive compared to the amount of work required to qualify. So few farmers have applied that WAG has been forced to U-turn on its proposals to begin phasing out Tir Mynydd payments (received by 420 Anglesey farms) this year. However without major changes to Glastir in 2011 farmers will see their incomes further reduced in coming years.


Tourism brings in approx. £215m per annum for Ynys Môn and has become increasingly more and more important to the Island economy. The Royal Wedding and presence on Anglesey of William and Kate in 2011 will provide us with an unrivalled window of opportunity to boost tourism for a generation -- but only if we make the right decisions early in 2011. The council needs to recognise this opportunity and implement a short-term tourism strategy designed to 'sell' the island globally over the next 12 months. Furthermore council plans to offload the various tourist attractions it currently runs should be suspended until 2012 at least unless suitable and stable partners can be found with the means and desire to run them well. My recommendations in full are here.

Island House Prices

According to the latest Halifax Country House Price survey the average house price in Anglesey in 2010 fell from £164,300 to £145,147 -- the equivalent of a 11.7% drop. As far as I am concerned this is good news for the Island as it brings the house price to earnings ratio marginally down from 6.7x to 5.6x.

The media is suggesting that the presence of William and Kate will make property on the island attractive to certain second home hunters thus pushing up prices in 2011. The probable beginning of an influx of workers for Wylfa B will also lead to house price inflation -- making it absolutely imperative that the joint LDP between Anglesey and Gwynedd frees up enough land for the building of new houses to keep prices stable. The whole issue of Affordable Homes on Ynys Môn is something I intend to return to shortly.

Elections and Referendums

There will the two referendums held in 2011: the vote on extra powers for the Welsh Assembly will be won, the nationwide poll on changing the first-past-the-post election system to AV will be lost. The Welsh Assembly election in May on Ynys Môn will be very, very close. I will do everything I can to provide a local, Welsh, energetic alternative to a tired Ieuan Wyn Jones. Whatever the result, I promise to make sure that the issues of jobs and the Island economy will be at the very top of the agenda -- ensuring that whoever succeeds at the polls, Ynys Môn will be the winner.

I would be very interested in hearing your predictions for 2011...


Groundhog Day said...

Happy New Year Paul.

My prediction is that you will have a hell of a fight on your hands to gain the Ynys Môn AM seat in the Senedd. As someone said on the Photonic blog, the Anglesey people have a fixed mindset towards Plaid and Labour notwithstnading the useless incumbents in post as AM and MP at the moment, IWJ and Albert. Your challenge is to get them off their backsides to vote in the first place then to get them to see what a mess IWJ has made over the years as our elected representative in Westminster and more recently in Cardiff. I am sure you will have considered this, what about the Peter Rogers effect on your vote. If he stands as an Independent, (any news on that?) he will take many Tory votes with him as he did in the last General Election. Make your peace with him on behalf of your party and get his backing then I think you will have a fighting chance. There is a lot of goodwill on this blog for your effort and you certainly have my backing but we are but few on here, it's the many thousands out there who do not visit the Druid blog you'll have to convince and I wish you luck in your attempt to bring them around, we need fresh new blood in Anglesey politics. Good luck Paul.

Photon said...

On pure effort alone, Paul, you deserve to win in May. I think the previous comment hints at opportunities that may lie in encouraging the younger generation to ditch their apathy and support someone who understands the local community, warts and all.

The Photon blog has 'officially' made you its preferred candidate and will be backing you between now and May. Every little helps...

Anonymous said...

No doubt, I actually believe you would be the best AM for Ynys Mon.

I actually think IWJ is a decent guy and party leader, but a sh** AM, pathetic I would say.

Despite saying that I think he'll get in in 2011, but with a cut in his vote to Labour I'm afraid.

Unfortunately I don't think you've got the biggest of chances. Had we AV for Assembly Elections I think you would, but for this year people will either vote for Labour or Plaid.
And it doesn't help that the Conservatives will bring in huge cuts over the next years.

Finally if Peter Rogers runs then you're definitely stuffed, get him on side and it'd be a big boost.

I think you've got a really good chance in 2015 to win. IWJ will have retired, Labour may be back in power. Which allows you to come in (hopefully!).... and if you 'crossed-the-floor' to plaid(!), I'd put my mortgage on you winning!.

Good luck anyway! and if you do get in, don't forget about Ynys Mon!

Rhiannon said...

sorry to say that this will be my last reading of your blog - I've always found the white on black very difficult to read, and it's got much worse recently - a pity, because you usually have something interesting to say

Anonymous said...

Rhianon and Druid,

I totally agree, my tired and weary old yeye do have trouble
with this White on Black, indeed Ithought your Druid site was aimed at the removal of 'negativity'!!

Anglesey Islander

Anonymous said...

The term Planning Experiment was used and I simply
asked for an explanation. Perhaps if all those who post crap could cut-the-crap and leave the sensible answer to someone who knows.

Anglesey Islander

Anonymous said...

17.55 There is quite a lot to say about PLANNING in Anglesey.
But the "someone who knows" can no longer be bothered, as whatever he says on planning matters is hardly appreciated by the uninitiated, perhaps ?
Pity...A lost opportunity.

Jac o' the North said...

If I was an islander I'd be a little concerned by your acceptance that the construction jobs at Wylfa will go to a "large influx" from off the island.

This is an all-too-prevalent attitude in Wales, smacking of defeatism, when the real approach should be, 'How do we ensure that the maximum number of these jobs go to local people?'

Insisting that the contracts go to local companies, and then North Wales companies, would have greater long term economic benefits for the region than building new houses for those taking jobs from locals.

Anonymous said...

I predict a win in May for the Druid despite being severely handicapped by his party.

I also predict the "Wind of Change" will scream through IoACC as a result of current investigations by Senior Public Sector Auditors.

On a lighter note, I predict this year;-

Man Utd win the European Cup and League;

Cardiff or Swansea to top the Premiership at sometime in 2011;

Alex Ferguson hands in his notice;

Murray Wins Wimbeldon;

The future Monarch is conceived on Anglesey.

Happy New Year


Anonymous said...

2011 will be the year they discover that excessive masturbation leads to blindness and why Peadoe's wear jam-jar glasses.

the outsider said...

I hope that people on Anglesey vote for the Peoples Manifesto cos it seems very sensible to me, and I have not yet seen anything better being suggested.

Anonymous said...

I hope Barry Durkin becomes the new leader of the Council.

"Go get em Barry"

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It's time Welsh speakers in Anglesy realised PLAID CYMRU means nothing for the survival of our culture. It means doing noting to attract business, support, jobs and skills. It means allowing the youngsters to leave for good.

IWJ = guilty for crimes against your own country.

Photon said...

"it's time Welsh speakers in Anglesy realised PLAID CYMRU means nothing for the survival of our culture"

I agree. As one of these 'natives', I can see that people are highly resistant to change and outside influences, even when this is to their personal detriment. It isn't just about who and where we are, I'm afraid.

This is where Paul, being a local and with his appeal to a younger generation, could make a big difference; I doubt our kids want to keep to the line that eisteddfods and S4C - who can't even keep themselves in viable business - is the future for Wales.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is the year for CHANGE !! Its time to move away from the revolutionists and socialist ideas. Anglesey needs to come into the 21st Century with ideas than keep our you people here with jobs and homes to live in. The sooner we do away with the lost mountain sheep party !!!
Mon Mam Cymru !!!
Now is the time to put our full support in Paul, for Anglesey to survive we do now more than ever need a welsh conservative to draw support. The welsh mountain sheep are not likely to getting any help from anywhere !!!

Un o Fon

Anonymous said...

Can anyone predict where people from North Wales will go for heart treatment or will we just be left in the wilderness

Anonymous said...

Plaid Cymru will be recognised at long last as the Party that has failed us all, the intense pride we had in having a Political Party that was for Wales, has led us all into the wilderness, they have not only failed us, but they have neglected and abused us all.

For years, we believed that having a Political Party it would give us a voice, but our voice has been silenced and ignored by an ineffective Party that chooses to ignore us all. I for one, will be encouraging Paul in all of his efforts, to rid us of this foolish Party who has dreamed too much of controlling Wales and it's people but instead has betrayed us all.

I hope Paul is encouraged and has the faith to embrace the support of Peter Rodgers, who will support Paul and will bring forth the wind of change that we all so desperatly need.

For us all to have this change we must support Paul and take the political fight to the opposition, you have our support.

Anonymous said...

Hey Paul, you may even be facing Albert Owens as well as IWJ. AO seems to be writing every day in the papers, why raising his profile now?

I wonder? that would make things v intersting!

Jac o' the North said...

Anon. is quite right, Plaid Cymru is an utter failure.

The party began as an organisation to celebrate, defend and represent Welsh-speaking and, esentially, rural communities.

Then came various stages of trying to become a 'rainbow alliance', speaking for wimmin, hippies, gays and just about anybody else, followed by adopting some weird variety of socialism so as to woo Labour voters in the Valleys.

All the while, Plaid's core support, the indigenous, Welsh-speaking population from Crymych to Amlwch was taken for granted - and ignored.

The Welsh language is on its last legs, there will soon be few if any Welsh-speaking communities left, because Plaid Cymru did NOTHING to bring employment to these areas or to deal with the rural housing crisis.

Apart from the Welsh-speaking middle class, now relocating to Cardiff, Plaid Cymru speaks for nobody.

Anonymous said...

I predict WAG through sheer embarrasment (of the financial package) will despatch Bowles forthwith.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Williams said...

Thank you all for your well wishes.

Jac - Regarding the influx of workers for the construction phase of Wylfa you make a good point. I have written previously of the need for as many construction and other nuclear-related jobs as possible to go to Anglesey residents -- and to be fair to WAG they have come up with the investment for an Energy and Fabrication centre at Coleg Menai to provide the necessary training. However with estimates of between 5,000 and 7,000 people being necessary for the construction phase there almost certainly will be an influx of specialists from outside the Island.

kp said...

Somewhat amused by the comments you chose to delete.

Even more amused by your desire to see 'as many construction and other nuclear-related jobs .... to go to Anglesey residents ....'.

Why don't you go the whole hog and insist everyone speaks Welsh.

Oh my God, and to think North Wales has any future with people like you running for public office.....

You should hang your head in shame young man, you really should!

Jac o' the North said...

kp, if you think it's wrong to want as many local jobs as possible to go to local people then you come across as plain anti-Welsh.

And running for public office means promising to look after the interests of your constituents.

Just imagine this for a campaign pitch: 'I want the people of Ynys Mon to vote for me - but I want all the jobs on the island to go to outsiders'.

Like I say, plain old anti-Welshness.

Anonymous said...

As far as I am aware, Horizon have already been looking for sites to build temporary accommodation for the workers they intend to bring in to build the fabled Wylfa B and were carrying out discreet reconnaisance and sp[eakinmg to people in the council regarding siting and possible planning problems. These sites - should they be built, are containerised and bolt together to form barrack block style accommodation units complete with launderettes, canteen facilities, on site medical staff and even their own recreation facilities complete with the support staff brought in - like the workforce - on contract from southern europe. You will find similar at the oil refinery sites in southern and eastern England and it was the massive influx of foreign workers that was one of the causes for the 'British Jobs For British Workers' demonstrations that happened a year ago. The oil companies made no bones about it that they would hire local labour but only at the same rates they were paying people from Greece, Portugal etc etc and only on the same terms and conditions. Even the hookers (sorry - 'laundry staff', were brought in from the Baltic states).

Unless we have politicians who will show spine and force Horizon to hire local people at UK rates and at acceptable UK terms and conditions then the same will happen here.

Anonymous said...

We should embrace and welcome new investors with open arms and give them every opportunity to invest here, believe me we are at the state of desperation, there is no inward investment only a massive drain of our youth who are leaving us in droves to find work and security.

This is our dilemma, New employers will have us all by the balls, but any employer coming here is better than the current system, when none are venturing to invest here. We could blame AO or IWJ, personally I blame the political culture of ignorance, indifference and bad judgement, we have had it all here on Anglesey, let's hope that WE can find our way out of this mess.

And, if we do get the go ahead for Wylfa B, then it's obvious that our unemployed should have first offer, it makes sense, it's only right, it's the only way.

Anonymous said...

Let's be a little realistic here;
There are just 1,671 people unemployed on the Island. I imagine that half are women and about one third of the remainder are fit and have relevant skills. By all means employ from Gwynedd and Conwy but even then what is going to happen is that outside contractors will get contracts and they will bring skilled travelling men to the Island. We've been through it all before. Even AAM recruited from all over NW England and all over Wales for workers with smelting experience.
Jac'othenorth can get as uptight and patriotic as he likes but when it comes down to it if we want Wylfa B we are going to get large numbers of outside workers.

Jac o' the North said...

Just considering the unemployed on the island is not the way to look at it. These well paid construction jobs will appeal to many who are already working, but for lower wages, and not just on the island but across north Wales. This gives us a massively higher figure than the numbers of unemployed males on Ynys Mon.

I was not disputing that there will be workers involved from outside Wales. My argument was that we should maximise the opportunities for local labour. Or do you, like kp, have a problem with giving Welsh people jobs in Wales?

kp said...

Jac, get real. The days of giving local jobs to local labour are well and truly gone. We are all Europeans now!

Jobs go to suitably qualified staff who are prepared to accept the terms & conditions (inc. salary/wages). No mystery here.

Mr Williams (Druid) would do his election chances a power of good if he came out and said that from now on he only has two considerations for the people of Anglesey, education & health!

If we educate our people well they will be able to compete for jobs all over the world, including here!

If we educate our people well we don't want them to die prematurely because of failings in the NHS system of Wales .... all Anglesey residents have an absolute right to be treated at the very best of hospital throughout the UK, including Liverpool and Manchester.

Sort these matters and the rest will sort itself!

Anonymous said...

I think Jac has a very valid point. There are an awful lot f people on the island doing low paid jobs who would jump at the chance to take better paid ones - likewise part time workers who would like the full time work - they, and the island's unemployed (of which there are a lot more than the quoted 1671 - it depends how you read the data), should be give first crack.

Instead what will happen is that labour gangs will be brought in from poorer countries, will live on-site and will ship their pay home. They will be paid wage levels under contract comensurate with their country of origin exactly the same as the refinary construction workers mentioned above and exactly the same as the 2010 Olympic site construction gangs (where very few of the 10,000 workers were UK citizens let alone locals)

Anonymous said...

KP, you continue to behave like a prat and I would love to know who you really are.....probably just mr punyverse. get back into your caravan.

The Red Flag said...

Personally, I've always thought that the number of permanent jobs created by Wylfa B will be the staff that operate it afterwards. Any jobs that locals get during construction/demolition will only be temporary by virtue of their purpose and will be few and far between I think. Once the dust is settled and Wylfa B is complete and Wylfa A nowt but a memory, if it's employing less than A did then it will be a net loss.

I also think that most of the construction crew will be foreign gangs brought in on low-paying contracts and accommodated on-site and as a result will put little in to the economy wage-spending wise as their day-=to-day needs will be met on-site and they will send the bulk of their wages to their families at home.

What we don't want is an influx of UK employees who start renting houses. That will push rents up and on an island where the average working wage (as opposed to the average wage itself) buy-to-let landlords may decide that housing workers on high rents is preferable to housing the local population on rents they can afford which will then lead to understandable resentment.

Jac o' the North said...

kp, You want Paul Williams to concentrate on education and health so that young people can leave the island and there is good health care for the elderly. What about the 50 or so years in between, you know, the working life, jobs?

Are you one of those retirees who finds locals under the age of 60 rather 'trying'? Or maybe you feel that way about all locals?

kp said...

Okay guys, here's my 2011 prediction:

IWJ will win the Ynys Môn AM seat in the Senedd. Reduced majority yes, but a fine victory nonetheless.


Because he is the best Conservative candidate there is (and ever has been, KB excepted).

Shame, I had such high hopes for Paul W (but his supporters let him down!).

Anonymous said...

The future: We should stand behind Paul. He is our Home Grown Man. OK Albert is too but he chose London. The others see Anglesey as a soft option, probably they see us as the uneducated ignorant voters. We have seen the results of bad leadership so why don't we give it a good go, stand with Paul, support him, keep our feelings and thoughts flowing and who knows we could re-find this pardise of ours.

Anglesey Islander

kp said...

In the 1970's we were told to buy British Leyland cars, and so we did.

But not enough of us, and so the company failed.

Now you try to tell us to vote for Paul and so we will.

But not enough of us, and so he will fail.

Why not try to figure out what he needs to say/do to get elected, rather than just allowing him to fall at the first hurdle!

I get so mad with you lot, I really do.

the outsider said...

kp - I think Paul should say what he feels, not what he needs to say to get elected, ok so I'm old fashioned but everywhere people are sick to the back teeth of spin! And anyway having read this blog I think a good many people trust him, he should build on that.

Anonymous said...

Jac o th North;

" Or do you, like kp, have a problem with giving Welsh people jobs in Wales"

This is just rabble rousing bull-s...

Every two-bit barack room lawyer and secondrate blogger in Wales trots out this rubbish as a matter of course whenever he's too lazy to construct a well researched, well thought out argument.

Grow up or ship out.

Officer Not In Charge, Just a Fly On The Wall said...

Anglesey County Council.

The end for some is here. So who's for the chop?
Watch this space.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Williams said...

An Anon wants us all to know that "if druid get's [sic] in we'er [sic] all [deleted]".

I've deleted his original comment for use of abusive language.

Anonymous said...

druid , so you are now admitting that YOU CAN delete posts when you want rather than just edit them out leaving post counts fictitiously high ?

Call your self transparent ?.....your as bad as the rest of them !

Anonymous said...

The real David Bowles..

Anonymous said...

Please read the above and ask yourself are we talking about the same man?????

Anonymous said...

Paul / Druid, you appeared to identify yourself at the time you were 'selected' as our candidate for the AM role. Was it a necessity to 'break cover' under rules or was it just a matter of courtesy ?

Anglesey Islander

Anonymous said...

Yes we are, but you wouldn't think so. Would you? At Lincolnshire Council, we called him the walking nightmare, believe me that's all he is, a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes Druid, I wonder whose side are you really on? The winning side, the side that gains you the most popularity, or the losing side, the side of the minority, the ignored, the silent minority that are pleading to be heard.

It's a difficult choice, the best choice is to be on the people's side, all of us. Help us Druid, in these dark days, where unemployment looms, and the dark shadows of despair are clouding over the Island.

Anonymous said...

Paul Williams has the balls to canvass Holyhead which is the most impoverished town in England and Wales.

Has IWJ ever canvassed Morawelon, Waterside or Treseifion????????

Anonymous said...

He might be Tory but lets face it Labour are tranvestite Tories.

Anonymous said...

Neil Kinnock used to pride himself on having a drink in the Cambria a working man's boozer.

Where does Albert drink? In the Victoria with the Captain's and NWP finest. Say's it all.

Jac o' the North said...

Neil Kinnock is a phoney who loved playing 'one of the boys'.

That's why he became an EU Commissioner, and A Lord, same as his wife, that other great 'socialist', from Holyhead isn't she? How often does Baroness Kinnock go back for a pinT?

Anyone who's fooled by a politician dropping in to a pub so as to be SEEN there is very easily fooled.

Anonymous said...