Saturday, March 31, 2007

Double standards over 'prisoners'

I am the only person who is watching this coverage with a total disbelief at the double standards?

No. A lot of the callers to "Any Answers?" this afternoon made similar points.
For Britain to condemn Iran whilst supporting and aiding the United States is outrageous.

For more than six weeks, five Iranian diplomats have been held by US forces at an unknown location and in unknown conditions. They were arrested in Iraqi Kurdistan and accused of aiding the Iraqi resistance, there have been no charges and no trial, no consular access.

Shouldn't the UN be condemning the Americans and demanding immediate consular access. Either an international court or the UN itself should determine rapidly whether the Iranian captives have diplomatic status as Iran says. If they have, they should be released immediately. If they have not, they should either be charged and tried in a public and fair process, or released immediately.

The arrest of these five men is not the first such incident. The BBC also reports that Bush has ordered that Iranian agents should be captured or killed"

Welcome home to 'The Forgotten Man'

Bisher al-Rawi, a Kingston resident was arrested and imprisoned in Guantanamo Camp Delta more than 2 years ago. He has been abandoned by the UK governement.
Read his story here.
For More Information on Bisher Al Rawi see:Cageprisoners
If you would like to write to a detainee visit Cageprisoners as above.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Most Boring Blogs Election 2007

Now the Assembly Elections are approaching we have candidates making thier pitch so we shall look at some of the blogs around, mostly guys commenting on each others virility!

There are few women blogging. One is New Labour candidate Sophie who Howe whose big campaign idea is to take to the streets picking up litter? Perhaps she should stick to that or even contact her local councillor who is....eh.. Sophie who Howe herself.......
..........well if she can't sort out litter collection..why should we vote for her?

Inconsiderate parking is one of the biggest problems followed by speeding
followed by Garden Grabbing! Hasn't mentioned those.

Picture shows Asbo queens Sophie who Howe and Hazel Blears! Hope you picked up the gum!

Em...Didn't New Labour notice that The city of Cardiff has been awarded with Environmental Recognition in the Clean Britain Awards 2007.

With Birmingham claiming the crown of Cleanest City 2007, Cardiff recieved a special award that recognised our commitment to the environment.

See Keep Cardiff Tidy

We'll look at Emma Greenow next ..pity we can't read it ..great to be young but pity more of them didn't vote. She is worried about social housing so why did you join the Tories? Perhaps someone should set up a blog .. a beginners guide to politics!




Wanted Slave for Welsh Correspondent on Tory Radio salary NONE -Yes ZERO!

Work for sweet f.a.? Jonathan Morgan AM quite rightly recently criticised Julie Morgan MP for advertising for an unpaid intern and now we have Tory Radio (EEK!) looking for an unpaid correspondant! !

'Tory Radio is looking to strengthen its network of regular contributors to its website by appointing a Welsh Correspondent. The position will involve producing short written pieces as to what is happening in Welsh politics each week for publication on the website.
The post will only involve a few hours work a week and would ideally suit someone already working in the Welsh Assembly, or involved politically in Wales. The role may also grow to include responsibility for taking part in ad hoc podcasts. The applicant will have a strong interest in politics and current affairs, and would be ideally suited to someone who understands blogging.
The position is unpaid.
closes Still time to apply...The deadline for applications is Friday 6 April 2007
For further details of how to apply please email editor@toryradio.com
website http://www.toryradio.com

Reduction in child poverty falling short of target

Shocking news that reported in Financial Times reports that the government is way behind its target to halve child poverty by 2010, figures due to be published tomorrow will show.

Official statistics will show that the government is still struggling to make progress on the issue having missed the first milestone, a reduction of one-quarter by 2005, by some 300,000 children. By Chris Giles and Nicholas Timmins Published: March 26 2007 03:00

Susan D'Arcy book about the loss of her daughter to leukaemia - she blamed the Sellafield nuclear plant

Radhealth
In the early 1990s, Rob Edwards helped Susan D'Arcy write a book about the loss of her young daughter, Gemma, to leukaemia - a loss for which she blamed the Sellafield nuclear plant in north west England. The book was published in the UK by Bloomsbury in 1995, and translated into six languages. Twelve years on it is not easy to find, though it is still relevant to the arguments over nuclear power. So it has been put online. www.robedwards.com

Write to your MP, AM or councillor http://www.writetothem.com/

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Crackdowns only hide prostitution

Excellent letter in the Guardian today, see below . I higlighted the best approach some time ago.

In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law:

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."

In addition to the two pronged legal strategy, a third and essential element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public.

As such, Sweden's unique strategy treats prostitution as a form of violence against women in which the men who exploit by buying sex are criminalized, the mostly female prostitutes are treated as victims who need help, and the public is educated in order to counteract the historical male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution. To securely anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden's prostitution legislation was passed as part and parcel of the country's 1999 omnibus violence against women legislation.

'The proposals of zero tolerance against sex workers and clients announced by Ipswich local authorities replicate almost exactly the policies in place before the tragic murders of five young women (Anti-prostitution strategy to offer counselling or court, March 22).

Police crackdowns and Asbos push prostitution further underground. Women will end up in more isolated, less-well-lit areas where they are more vulnerable to attack, and - fearing arrest - will be even less able to report rape and other violence to the police.

Measures to ensure "women do not become involved in street prostitution in the first place" offer no budget or resources to address the economic causes of prostitution: poverty, debt, lack of affordable housing, cuts in benefits, low wages and addiction to expensive drugs. Some 70% of prostitute women are mothers - as were three of the Ipswich victims.

In response to widespread compassion and concern for the women who were murdered and for their families, we have formed the Safety First Coalition to prevent this happening again. We are looking at how sex work was decriminalised in New Zealand and at viable economic alternatives to prostitution. Sadly the government has shown no interest in protecting women's lives, only in repression.
Cari Mitchell
English Collective of Prostitutes
Camille Shah
Ipswich
Revd Andrew Dotchin
Ipswich
Dr Peter Carter
General secretary, Royal College of Nursing
John Furniss
Multiple Choice rehabilitation centre
And six others

Saturday March 24, 2007 The Guardian


Hands Off Iraq Oil - Get your MP to sign EDM 1180


EDM in British Parliament
Katy Clark has tabled Early Day Motion 1180 with cross-party co-sponsorship, please encourage your MPs to sign it: "That this House notes that Iraq's economy is heavily dependent on oil and that decisions about the future of Iraq's oil industry will have a major bearing on that country; further notes that the constitution of Iraq states that oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq; expresses concern that the British Government, in its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's new oil laws, has sought the views of international oil companies regarding the possible types of contracts that the Iraqi Government should offer; believes that decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference; and calls on the Government to disclose to the House all representations it has made in relation to the oil law."

Blair - The Golden Years (1997-2006)

Damning critique of New Labour, even if you don't agree with all of its content.

£91bn realistic estimate of the bill for New submarine-based nuclear ballistic missile syste

Public Finance understands that the 87-strong Labour rebellion could have been bigger had the spin around costs been better assessed. Following a debate that led one minister to resign and 15 for mer ministers – including ex-home secretary Charles Clarke – to reject Blair’s policy, one senior rebel said:
‘Several floating voters in the Labour camp considered opposing the project but concluded that a £20bn top-end cost wasn’t significant for a 30-year deterrent.’


Well, how does £91bn sound? Because that might be a more realistic estimate of the bill taxpayers will foot for a new submarine-based nuclear ballistic missile system – one that some experts believe is a white elephant. Public Finance 22nd March 2007
No 2 Nuclear Power

Write to your Councillor, MP, and MEP or devolved administration representative.

Why are employers missing the mark when it comes to diversity?

Employers are failing to understand the genuine business benefits of diversity, with ‘old school’ attitudes still outweighing genuine understanding of the issues.
That’s the verdict of a study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which suggests many businesses are missing out on the benefits that good practice could deliver.
The report - Diversity in Business - claims that many employers focus on legal requirements without understanding the broader benefits of issues such as creativity and innovation.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Stop Western Powers Housing Development on Llanishen Reservoir

Ted Thurgood Chairman RAG tells us that here is a chance for you to help RAG Save Our Reservoirs by emailing your objections to the Planning Department in response to WPD’s latest addendum to their environment Statement.

Western Power’s Fourth Planning Application No. 06/01101/E for Housing Development on Llanishen Reservoir

Your Chance to Register Your Protest

Western Power’s recent second addendum to its environmental statement deals with the following main issues:
· The landscape effect of the proposed access road across the Nant Fawr meadows.
· Further information regarding the hydrology of the site.
· Further information regarding the landscape impact from scheduled ancient
monuments to the North of the site.
· Increase in the width of the access road across the Nant Fawr meadows from 5.5 to
6.1m
· Updating of bus route/frequency information.
· Minor relocation of the proposed “Tiger crossing” on Rhyd-y-penau Road.

Throughout the document the reference to the Wildlife Trust, who were to take on ownership of those parts of the development not being built upon, has been changed to 'Wildlife Trust or other body to be approved'. References to draining the reservoir at the start of the development have been changed throughout to read "Unless (the draining) is carried out prior to the implementation of planning permission".The additional information provided in this second addendum does not change the fundamental reasons for objections to the development. These are:
-that the development goes against the Council's own planning policies to protect the City's river corridors from development;

- that any decision would be premature due to the large planned development of homes adjacent to the north of the reservoirs between Lisvane and Pontprennau;

-that an area which encompasses two SSSI is clearly important for preserving biodiversity and should be protected from any development and the resulting risk of disturbance.

In fact, the situation pertaining to the SSSIs is now much worse. It is clear that the Wildlife Trust are no longer interested in taking ownership of the two Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the reservoir site, and it is not clear who will become the owners if the development goes ahead. This uncertainty is very worrying, as there are now no assurances that the wildlife interests at the site would be protected in perpetuity if the development goes ahead. This is a key reason for lodging a further objection to the changes that are listed in this addendum.

WPD's second addendum changes nothing. Their planning Application would cause unacceptable harm to amenity and open space interests contrary to Policy 7 of the adopted City of Cardiff Local Plan and to the Nant Fawr Corridor linking this part of the City to the countryside beyond and thus conflict with Policies C1 and B4 of the South Glamorgan (Cardiff Area) Replacement Structure Plan and with 1J, 2.J.6, and 2.J.9 of the Deposit Version of the Unitary Development. It should therefore be rejected.

TIME FOR ACTION
Use whichever arguments most fit your personal concerns but make sure that the Planning Department is aware of your strong objections to Western Power’s totally inappropriate Fourth Planning Application.

Email your objections to Phil Williams at: developmentcontrol@cardiff.gov.uk

Under this heading:
Planning Application No: 06/01101/E
For the attention of Tim Walters

Thursday, March 22, 2007

LEAP Alternative Budget 10 Years On: Whatever happened to equality?

LEAP alternative budget launched as ‘10 Years On: Whatever happened to equality?’
As Chancellor Gordon Brown announces his Budget, ten years on from New Labour’s election, LEAP (comprising leading radical economists and Labour MPs) assesses the Government’s economic strategy and asks ‘Whatever happened to equality?’

The gap between rich and poor has grown under New Labour, and the Government’s green strategy is in danger of further exacerbating that gap. LEAP looks at the structural problems of UK economic strategy and concludes that intelligent policy-making decisions, not market solutions, are needed to deal with the crises of inequality and the environment.,

LEAP - LEFT ECONOMICS ADVISORY PANEL CO-SPONSORED BY New Left Unions, Socialist Campaign Group & Labour Representation Committee

Swansea Tenants reject housing transfer



Ask any MP or AM or councillor what is the predominate issue for their casework and the answer would be Housing but there is very little evidence that this issue is been taken seriously by our politicans. No tub thumping on this issue.

Recently there have been 55 areas to ballot on stock transfer and those planning ALMO (DCLG list). Authorities proposing stock transfer of their homes (privatisation of council homes)

It is the neo liberal policy framework that has encouraged the systematic disinvestment from council housing. Council housing has been deliberately stigmatised, to brand all of those who won’t or can’t climb the home ownership ladder as failures.

The attack on council housing is part of the drive to privatise public services world-wide and the moves to undermine the role of democratically elected local councils and replace them with private sector dominated quangos and ‘partnerships’

As Michael Meacher, Dave Prentis and others show council homes and estates can be improved if government ring fences all the money that belongs to council housing.

Tenants reject housing transfer
Council house tenants in Swansea have rejected plans to transfer their homes out of local authority control.

The city council proposed a "community mutual" housing association took over the running of its 13,962 homes.Of the 7,847 votes cast, 5,661 (72.1%) rejected the move with only 2,186 (29.1%) voting in favour. Swansea is the sixth Welsh local authority to put the vote to tenants.

Bridgend was the first council to transfer its stock, in 2003, and this year Rhondda Cynon Taff, Monmouthshire and Torfaen tenants have all voted in favour of transfer. People in Wrexham rejected the move.

New research on Bullying and Harassment at Work

New Research on Bullying & Harassment at Work Toolkit Published:
The Barriers to Returning to Work Post-Bullying

The Government is being called on to do more to help victims of bullying and harassment at work. Just Fight On! have published a Return to Work Toolkit looking at the barriers to returning towork after being bullied and harassed at work, including some shocking findings. This is the first assessment of what happens post-workplace bullying in the world.

The findings showed that the mechanisms currently in place to deal with bullying and harassment are not working. Two thirds of respondents said their employer had a policy on bullying and harassment, however 100% said it was not effective. Every respondent who spoke to the harasser was not satisfied with the outcome; 90% of those who made an informal complaint were not satisfied with the outcome; nor were 95% of those who made a formal grievance. 84% of those who sought union representation were not satisfied. Specific feedback that features in the Toolkit identifies a major lack of understanding, a failure to take bullying seriously and little support and help available to get people back to work.

The full Return to Work Toolkit is available from JFO on 01753 610536
Download Electronic Summary of Toolkit

JFO is a not for profit organisation operating the Centre Against Workplace Bullying UK to help victims of bullying and harassment at work. They provide advice, support and training.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are New Labour, Tory Policies

The idea is to show people where New Labour has placed the Labour Party politically compared with both previous Tory and Labour positions. Seems this is a first to have collected together the information to really demonstrate this, for 194 specific policies over a wide range. Haven't had a chance to study this site throughly yet but you won't be surprised by the results.

New Labour Trevor Phillips in Wales

Why prosperity and equality go hand-in-hand

TREVOR PHILLIPS'S role as chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights establishes him as the head of one of the UK's most powerful quangos.
....Peter Mandelson was Mr Phillips's best man at his wedding, and his vision of equality remains resolutely New Labour...... Trevs not terribly worried about widening inequality in wealth. Sort of misses the point. What is he going to do to addresss the still persisant inequality that women have to put up with? New Labour/Morgan Mafia???

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Julie Morgan MP exploiting workers and may break the law by having an unpaid intern -


Oh Dear Julie!

I see you are advertising a Job Opportunity which may be exploitative - as very few can afford to work for nothing and certainly will exclude those most disadvantaged like women with children and disabled people. I only mention this as I was shocked to see that you were advertising for

"a part time unpaid (bar lunch and travelling expenses) volunteer intern at her constituency office in Whitchurch, Cardiff. The role will include dealing with constituents over the telephone, assisting the Senior Caseworker in a range of interesting and challenging casework, monitoring EDMs and reporting to Julie, together with general administrative tasks. The closing date for applications is Friday 23 March so hurry if you fancy a bit of slavery!

The TUC recently welcomed a review of minimum wage and interns.The TUC had demanded a Low Pay Commission probe into the employment of young workers on unpaid internships. The TUC says it does not want to block genuine work experience but it fears the system could lead to exploitation. It follows concerns MPs' offices may have broken minimum wage legislation by advertising for interns to work unpaid.And evidence to the commission shows many firms are demanding long periods of unpaid work as a price of entry to the sector.This could be regarded as exploitation rather than opportunity, the TUC said.The adverts placed by MPs staff for interns required candidates to be available five days a week and have good office skills but did not offer any pay.The House of Commons' guidelines on the use of graduates was being rewritten.

High-earning men blamed over climate changing emissions

Surprise, surprise, time the men stayed at home more and looked after the kids instead of doing research to tell women what they already know!

'Working men earning more than £40,000 a year are responsible for the lion's share of climate change emissions from personal travel, according to a Oxford University survey. It found that one in five people are responsible for 61% of climate change emissions from private transport and that most of these are well-off men. ' Guardian, Saturday March 10 2007 James Randerson, science correspondent

Hazel Hoodies - Armed police for Stalinist Blears??



Sorry sister...have you seen Hazel Blears deputy leadership blog! Never saw anything so revolting and egoistic! Don't miss the shop where you can buy badges, hats, t-shirts and HOODIES with HAZEL on! Who would buy any of this rubbish or even a HAZEL HOODIE, don't get the logic in that? Perhaps Hazel is code for 'don't shoot' for the police but everybody else might be incited to murder YOU?

What where we saying about testing for the Stalinist New Labour tendancy, centralized autocratic rule and total suppression of dissent! Just in case you were in any doubt -Hazel tells us - she wants armed police on the streets, wearing Hazel Hoodies!
“There are immediate priorities: we need an efficient police operation which identifies and arrests the murderers, we need policing which makes people feel safe, and that includes armed police on the streets, and we need the statutory agencies, voluntary sector and faith groups ............ great! I can see it now.. Faith groups solve prison crisis.....confessionals used as cells, monks probably have loads of unused cells ready and waiting for prisoners on remote islands though maybe wouldn't go down well with the neighbours of Buckfast Abbey..armed bishops, compulsory church services..brave new world was better? Ask our local fan Sophie Who Howe candidate for Cardiff North, has she bought a hazel hoodie?

Counterpunch

Cardiff Respect Blog

Aren't all New Labour tactics Stalinists?

Ex-Whitehall chief slams `Stalinist' Brown By Nicholas Timmins, Public Policy EditorCopyright The Financial Times Limited 2007 Published: March 19 2007 23:20

Gordon Brown has exhibited a "Stalinist ruthlessness" in government, belittling his cabinet colleagues whom the Treasury treats with "more or less complete contempt", according to the man who was Britain's top civil servant until two years ago.

Aren't all New Labour, particularly ministers in favour of centralised autocratic rule and total suppression of dissent?

The most vehement supporters within the party come from the aging 'ex' stalinists. See keeping the faith!

Bush's Shadow Army

Bush's Shadow Army By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation.

Read this below and be afraid of what is happening at St Athans and who is calling these people to account..
Blackwater worlds most powerful mercenary army was founded in 1996 by conservative Christian multimillionaire and ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince ..........
hired the Alexander Strategy Group ..............
The former Halliburton subsidiary KBR supported Blackwater ...........

"The Bush Administration is increasingly dependent on private security forces to do its dirty work, Jeremy Scahill reveals in his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.In just a decade Prince has expanded the Moyock headquarters to 7,000 acres, making it the world's largest private military base. Blackwater currently has 2,300 personnel deployed in nine countries, with 20,000 other contractors at the ready. It has a fleet of more than twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships and a private intelligence division, and it is manufacturing surveillance blimps and target systems...........................
The War on the Hill
Several bills are now making their way through Congress aimed at oversight and transparency of the private forces that have emerged as major players in the wars of the post-9/11 period. In mid-February Senators Byron Dorgan, Patrick Leahy and John Kerry introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on no-bid contracts and cronyism, providing foemy Scanr penalties of up to twenty years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for what they called "war profiteering."..
Privatising War
......... Representative Kucinich says he plans to investigate the potential involvement of private forces in so-called "black bag," "false flag" or covert operations in Iraq. "What's the difference between covert activities and so-called overt activities which you have no information about? There's no difference," he says. Kucinich also says the problems with contractors are not simply limited to oversight and transparency. "It's the privatization of war," he says. The Administration is "linking private war contractor profits with warmaking. So we're giving incentives for the contractors to lobby the Administration and the Congress to create more opportunities for profits, and those opportunities are more war. And that's why the role of private contractors should be sharply limited by Congress." ....

Monday, March 19, 2007

'Get lobbying' for Welsh agency director

Welsh Independant state
If Wales, Scotland and England became independent states, we'd all become racists!
- Trevor Phillips (Head of CRE)

Trevor Phillips, head of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, raises fears that the break-up of the UK could help reduce the British people to "a collection of ethnic tribes".

No wonder he wants to run CEHR Wales from London.
Smiling under buses

UK baby milk law crackdown and podcast launch

Baby Milk Action podcast launched as crackdown on UK baby milk companies isannounced. Baby Milk Action has launched a podcast service to keep people updated onthe baby milk campaign and the Nestlé boycott. This is particularly aimed at supporters with visual impairment. The podcast is posted weekly on the BabyMilk Action website and iTunes (where people can subscribe).

It rounds upthe daily posts on the Campaigns and Networking Coordinators blog andprovides additional insight into how to run a successful campaign.See:The first podcast, posted on 12 March, includes: Nestlé promotion inFairtrade Fortnight, International Women's Day, protests in the Philippinesand breaking news - authorities to crack down on UK infant formulapromotions.
Baby milk companies in the UK have been breaking a 1995 law by using prohibited health claims to promote their infant formula. Companies are now re-designing their labels and advertising campaigns to avoid prosecution.The crackdown is intended to protect all mothers, whether they use formulaor breastfeed, by helping to ensure their decisions are based on accurateinformation. Baby Milk Action believes a mother has the right to make an informed decision on infant feeding, free from pressure from companies witha vested interest in increasing sales. We also work to improve the safety ofinfant formulas and believe that if an ingredient is necessary for infant health it should be a legal requirement to include it. Adding new ingredients, whose benefit is sometimes disputed, should not be a strategyfor promoting the formula as ‘now even closer to breastmilk', particularlyas so much about breastmilk and how to synthesize its ingredients is stillunknown. Baby Milk Action’s press release with links to images and supporting documents.
See a blog giving insight of the long campaign to strengthen the UK law and its enforcement.

If you welcome the action being taken by the UK authorities, please considercelebrating by becoming a member of Baby Milk Action, sending a donation orbuying some merchandise. We have only been able to campaign for thiscrackdown on illegal marketing because of the financial and other help of our supporters. To continue working to bring regulations in the UK and othercountries into line with internationally agreed standards, we will continueto need your help.

See on-line Milk ActionVisit website

4 Companies bidding for Trident contract - BAE, Carlyle Group, General Dynamics

Four companies are preparing to bid for the nuclear submarine maintenance facility at Devonport in a move that could see BAE Systems wrap up the entire £25 billion Trident replacement contract. BAE, Babcock, Carlyle Group and General Dynamics are all understood to have asked UBS, which is handling the sale of Devonport, for a prospectus. KBR, a subsidiary of United States-based Halliburton, controls 51 per cent of The Devonport Royal Dockyard, or DML as it is called. It is understood that relations between KBR and the Ministry of Defence deteriorated so badly that KBR has effectively been forced into selling the dockyard.
Times 16th March 2007

St Athan & the Future of Wales

See Cynefin y Werin
(Remember the campaign against St Athans started here with the women of Wales!! St Athans PFI Military Base 2 Jan 2007)

Paper by Stuart Tannock 2007
Introduction

Ever since Wales gained its own national assembly in 1999, Welsh politicians have spoken of building Wales as a world nation, respected globally for its distinct Welsh identity. First Minister Rhodri Morgan talks passionately of putting “clear red water between Cardiff and London.” Plaid Cymru commits itself to social justice, the health of the environment and decentralised socialism. The Welsh Liberal Democrats claim to offer “real alternatives.” The Welsh are committed, it is said, to values of community, voice, collectivism and social democracy. In January 2007, a quite different and altogether sobering reality behind such rhetoric became starkly apparent. Hitching its dreams of national emergence to the global fortunes and adventures of the British military and a consortium of some of the world’s most powerful arms investors and producers (Carlyle, Qinetiq, Raytheon), Wales announced what was by far its largest investment project since devolution: a £14 billion deal to construct a massive, new, privately-operated training centre for the entire British armed forces, to be located in the village of St Athan, some thirteen miles outside of Cardiff. More sobering still, not one of the four main political parties in the “new,” “distinct” and “devolved” Wales stood up to oppose the development; neither did the Wales Trades Union Congress, nor any of the principal Welsh newspapers.

What is the St Athan Defence Training Academy?

The St Athan Defence Academy, if final contracts are all signed as expected, will open fully in 2013 as a mega-training centre or “university” for all three services of the British armed forces. It will be a private facility operated by the Metrix Consortium, which is a joint venture company of Land Securities Trillium and Qinetiq, in partnership with other sub-contracting companies: AgustaWestland, City & Guilds, Currie & Brown, Dalkia, EDS, Laing O’Rourke, Nord Anglia, Raytheon, Serco, Sodexho and the Open University. The Academy represents a major step in New Labour’s effort to “modernise” defence training in the UK, through promoting closer integration between the Army, Navy and Air Force, embracing high technology solutions to military problems, and outsourcing to the private sector. In the future, all British military recruits will come to St Athan to complete Phases Two and Three of their training, taking specialist courses in subjects such as engineering, information systems, communications, logistics, administration, policing, security, languages, intelligence and photography.

Far from being a peripheral or inconsequential development, the St Athan Academy promises to play a pivotal role in defining the future identity and direction of the new and devolved Wales. It represents one of the largest, if not the largest government investments in Welsh history.[1] It is also anticipated by Welsh developers and politicians to have major impacts on the entire regional infrastructure (education, transportation, housing, health) and economy (from aerospace to tourism). Despite its significance, however, the St Athan Academy deal was pushed through with virtually no public discussion and debate. St Athan boosters focused almost exclusively on the economic benefits that the military academy promises to bring to Wales, particularly in terms of new jobs for local people. There are real questions as to how many new jobs – and how many high quality new jobs – St Athan will create for locals. But even before we get to these questions, there is the core matter, which has yet to be addressed publicly in Wales, of what St Athan/Metrix actually represents in the world at large. What exactly is Wales committing itself to when it signs onto the St Athan deal?

(1) A Future Based on Militarism

With St Athan, Wales jumps from being one of the least militarized nations – it currently has the lowest defence spending of any region in the UK[2] – to the forefront of global militarist presence. The words of Metrix CEO Mike Hayle could not be more transparent about what the St Athan Academy vision entails:

Our aim is that by 2013 if you travelled anywhere in the world and talked about military training, people would say that St Athan was the only place to go. It will genuinely be on the world map. People will come from Australia, the Middle East and other parts of the world to train…. The academy will captivate the world.[3]

Welsh politicians could have insisted that the future development of Wales – and beyond Wales, Britain – lay not in investing in the military, but instead in technology and education projects geared to addressing problems of climate change, alternative energy production, disease eradication, sustainable food production, affordable housing, services for the poor and so on. They could have challenged the British government’s massive military outlay and questioned the factors that have led Britain to the world’s second largest military budget.[4] They could have insisted, at the very least, on a moratorium on any further investments in the future of the British military until the troops had been brought back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and a full public investigation, accounting and trial of Britain’s current wars and occupations had been held. Instead, they have opted to commit the future of Wales to a culture and economy based squarely on militarism.

(2) A Stand Against the International Victims of British Military Aggression

While many in Wales and the rest of Britain hold on to an idealized notion of the British armed forces, the real-world nature and role of Britain’s military has sadly all too often been a different story. When Wales opens its arms to the British armed forces at St Athan, it is embracing an institution that, in collaboration with the United States, has recently triggered in Iraq “an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide”[5] as well as “the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of the Palestinians in 1948.”[6] Between March 2003 and July 2006, more than 650,000 Iraqis (or 2.5% of the population) lost their lives because of the British/American occupation;[7] by early 2007, 1.7 million Iraqis had been internally displaced and 2 million were refugees in other countries.[8] This is an occupation, moreover, that is both unjust and, in the eyes of international law, illegal.

Consider what the equivalent would be: if the British military were to do to Wales what their occupation with America has done now to Iraq, then within the next four years, the entire city of Swansea would be evacuated and exiled overseas; all of Newport and Neath would be evacuated and dispersed to refugee camps across Wales; and the populations of Llandudno, Bangor, Aberystwyth, Abergavenny, Monmouth and Newtown would be wiped out and killed off completely, every last man, woman and child among them. This is not to forget that unemployment across Wales would have soared to 70%, health and education systems would have collapsed beyond all recognition, and the country’s remaining residents would have suffered a complete and utter loss of any personal security. In the recent round of celebration over the St Athan investment package, the self-interest of the small, would-be nation of Wales is being pursued in callous disregard for the devastating fate of another nation that has been systematically raped and destroyed.

(3) A Commitment to Selling Welsh Youth on Military Work

It is not just Iraqis and Afghanis whom the British military has killed in its illegal and unjust operations overseas. In welcoming the British armed forces to Wales, Welsh politicians are embracing an employer that has become one of the leading workplace killers and maimers of young Welshmen today. In Iraq alone, at least nine Welsh soldiers have been killed since 2003.[9] Another, Gary Boswell, 20, from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, hung himself from a swingset in a children’s playground after a tour of duty in Basra. His parents said that “their son had suffered depression on returning home [from Iraq] but had never spoken of his experiences.”[10] In 2005, Welsh troops discussed on the pages of the Western Mail and over the airwaves of BBC Radio Cymru “how the tragedy they encountered when war broke out haunts them two years on.” They spoke “of seeing young men, fellow soldiers and friends, being killed at their side, of carrying coffins and of surviving roadside bombs – and of how life in a battle zone made returning to life at home so difficult.”[11]

Instead of condemning the military for causing the utterly unnecessary loss and disruption of young Welsh lives, Welsh politicians are now preparing to commit themselves to a project that is oriented explicitly toward selling more Welsh youth on the attractions and justness of military work. The St Athan project came into existence in the first place because of New Labour’s agenda of modernising defence training in the UK. The Ministry of Defense’s (2001) Modernising Defence Training report speaks of “four key drivers which underpin the need for change in our training and education.” One of these drivers is the fact that “the lifestyle and expectations of today’s young people have changed dramatically.” We must “meet the aspirations of recruits from a new generation,” the Ministry of Defence insists, “if we are to recruit and retain the people we need in an increasingly competitive market.”[12] The goal, in other words, is to do a better job of selling young people on the military. Enter St Athan. St Athan will be a brand new, purpose-built campus that offers “top grade single living accommodation for all ranks, with single en-suite rooms for many.”[13] It will have “fantastic facilities,” including a cinema, bowling alley, bars and restaurants on site. It will even have an Olympic-size pool, open a year before the London Olympics begin, that will be accessible to civilians and local children, so that they too can see the pleasures and luxuries a life in the military can offer. [14]

(4) An Acceptance of Green-washing Over True Environmental Accounting

Even environmentalism is fair game for exploitation to sell the youth of Wales and Britain on the justness of the British military. The Metrix Consortium deliberately put environmental concerns at the top of its development plans since, as CEO Mike Hayle explains, “We are dealing with teenagers who are very much more environmentally aware than 20 or 30 years ago when I joined the armed forces. We have to make sure we fit in with their views on environmental issues.”[15] Never mind the environmental devastation that the British and American militaries are wreaking across the Middle East, or the fact that some experts fear that more Iraqis and other citizens of the region will end up dying from the environmental pollution caused by the war and occupation than from the actual military conflict itself.[16] Recruits coming to the new Defence Training Academy can rest assured knowing that St Athan is committed to green space, sustainable practices, energy conservation, waste reduction, recycling, biodiversity, conservation of natural resources, pollution control, the protection and extension of wildlife habitats.[17] We may not give a damn about children in Iraq – over 260,000 of whom are thought to have died since the 2003 invasion[18] – but we can be happy to know that the Metrix Consortium is taking great pains to safely relocate a colony of great crested newts that has been nesting in the St Athan site before they commence construction.[19]

(5) A Commitment to Military Privatisation

Committing to St Athan is about committing to a political project of privatising the British military. The government’s proposed defence training modernisation, in fact, constitutes “one of the biggest, and potentially most lucrative, private finance initiatives … in UK history.”[20] This has been the primary concern of the public sector unions outside of Wales who currently represent military training staff, and who are threatening strike action over the privatisation of defence training agenda.[21] Privatisation of the military, many fear, as is the case in other sectors, can undermine public accountability and erode ideas of public service and the public good, while achieving little if anything in the way of cost savings.[22] “The only winners in the privatisation of defence training,” says Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, “are the shareholders of the Metrix Consortium.”[23]

(6) A Welcome Mat for the World’s Largest Missile Manufacturer

Just who is the Metrix Consortium that the politicians of Wales are welcoming into their country? Even the most casual look through corporate watchdog sites quickly reveals a rogue’s gallery. The most egregious member among these is probably Raytheon, whose work is described as being “at the core of the training system redesign” in the Metrix project.[24] Raytheon happens to be the world’s largest missile manufacturer. It was a Raytheon bomb that hit the Shu’ale market in Baghdad in 2003, killing at least 62 civilians.[25] It was Raytheon guidance systems that directed the bomb that hit Qana in 2006, killing at least 28 civilians, including 16 children. It was Raytheon depleted uranium-tipped GBU-28 “bunker buster” bombs that were rushed by the United States to Israel (via the UK) in the summer of 2006 to be used in the destruction and poisoning of the people of Lebanon.[26] Also concerning about a company with whom the British state is about to sign a massive services contract is the fact that Raytheon has had multiple instances of past business misconduct, including repeated offenses of cost inflation, overpricing, false work claims, and the illegal obtaining of secret government documents.[27] Many of the political leaders of Wales claim to be opposed to the production and use of weapons of mass destruction. Why are they now laying out the welcome mat for one of the world’s largest producers of just such weapons?

Conclusion

There are, no doubt, many other concerns that need to be raised about the St Athan Defence Academy project. What will be the impact of the Academy on local quality of life – on traffic congestion, for example, and housing affordability? What will be the impact on Welsh education, and the social and political values that are taught to Welsh children and youth? Already, Welsh politicians and developers alike anticipate that neighbouring schools, colleges and universities in Wales will be pulled into St Athan’s orbit, re-orienting themselves to provide the skills and outlooks demanded by the British military. For those who are committed to a nuclear-free Wales, they should be aware that the Royal Navy’s Maritime Engineering School, which contains the Nuclear Systems Group, is projected to move from HMS Sultan to St Athan by 2017. The Nuclear Systems Group trains the Naval Officers responsible for operating the nuclear submarines that are the heart and soul of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.

I write these words in the aftermath of the January 2007 announcement at Westminster of the success of the Metrix/St Athan development bid. For many of us in Wales, this was the first we had even heard of the project. It may seem that St Athan is a done deal, that the opportunity to question and challenge it has passed, and that speaking or acting out now is a matter of doing too little, too late. “The Rubicon has been crossed,” as one concerned observer said to me. We can only hope that this is not true. Though it would, of course, have been preferable to organise against the St Athan Defence Academy at earlier points during its development campaign, there are still contracts to be signed and details to be ironed out. At the very least, before any of these things happen, the people of Wales – and indeed, the citizens of the rest of the world – deserve a full public discussion and debate of the St Athan project so that they can be fully informed of exactly what it entails. Far too much is at stake here to demand anything less. For in the end, St Athan is not just about a local development strategy. It is about the future of Wales, and its place in the wider world beyond.

Notes

[1] BBCNEWS (2007) “Military Base Brings 5,000 Jobs.” January 17.
[2] Peter Gripaios (2002) “Regional Spending: A Comment on Mackay.” Regional Studies 36(6): 685-689.
[3] Peter Collins (2007) “’We Want You as Our Recruits….’” South Wales Echo. February 15.
[4] George Monbiot (2006) “Only Paranoia Can Justify the World’s Second Biggest Military Budget.” Guardian. August 14.
[5] Les Roberts (2007) “Iraq’s Death Toll is Far Worse Than Our Leaders Admit.” Independent. February 15.
[6] Mark Tran (2007) “UN Launches £30m Iraq Refugees Appeal.” Guardian. January 9.
[7] Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy & Les Roberts (2006) “Mortality After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Cluster Sample Survey.” Lancet. October 11.
[8] Mark Tran (2007) “UN Launches £30m Iraq Refugees Appeal.” Guardian. January 9.
[9] BBCNEWS (2007) “British Military Fatalities in Iraq.” February 10.
[10] BBCNEWS (2004) “Family’s Plea After Soldier’s Suicide.” October 1.
[11] Aled Blake (2005) “Welsh Troops Tell How Iraq Still Haunts Them.” Western Mail. March 19.
[12] UK Ministry of Defence (2001) Modernising Defence Training: Report of the Defence Training Review. London: MoD: p.6.
[13] Defence News (2007) “Metrix Consortium Awarded Preferred Bidder Status Under Defence Training Review Programme.” January 17.
[14] Tomos Livingstone (2007) “What a Week for Wales.” Western Mail. January 20.
[15] Fiona Harvey (2006) “Environment Ranks Highly in Military Training Site Proposal.” Financial Times. June 9.
[16] Michelle Dixon & Spencer Fitz-Gibbon (2003) “The Environmental Consequences of the War on Iraq.” London: Green Party; Solana Pyne (2003) “Leaving a Mess in Mesopotamia.” Village Voice. April 16-23.
[17] Andrew Davies (2006) “St Athan: Wales Goes for Gold.” Western Mail. October 28.
[18] Colin Brown (2007) “The Battle to Save Iraq’s Children.” Independent. January 19.
[19] Fiona Harvey (2006) “Environment Ranks Highly in Military Training Site Proposal.” Financial Times. June 9.
[20] Robin Pagnamenta (2006) “Regions Go to War Over GBP 10 Bn Defence Training Shake-Up.” Sunday Express. July 30.
[21] Prospect (2007) “PFI Training Decision Slammed by Specialist Union.” January 17; Greg Pitcher (2007) “Civil Service Threatens Strike Over Privatization of Training in Armed Forces.” Personnel Today. January 23.
[22] Deborah Avant (2005) The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[23] Public and Commercial Services Union (2007) “Union Anger Over Defence Privatisation.” January 17.
[24] Tim Mahon (2006) “Drafting a Vision: Massive Changes in Store for British Armed Forces Training.” Training and Simulation Journal. August 21.
[25] Cahal Milmo (2003) “Iraq: Marketplace Deaths Caused by Raytheon Missile.” Independent. April 2.
[26] Goretti Horgan (2006) “The Raytheon Nine: Derry Antiwar Activists Face Terrorism Charges.” Counterpunch. August 14.
[27] CorpWatch (2005) “Raytheon.” CorpWatch Website.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Powers to make law 'in 4 years'ic Censored


CENSORED
THE head of Wales' premier think tank has argued that the National Assembly is on course to get full lawmaking powers in four years' time.

Jane Davidson slams NEw Labour plans to replace Trident

Jane Davidson AM has today publicly condemned plans by the New Labour government in Westminster to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system.

See the BBC coverage here: This is a very significant and courageous intervention in the debate about Trident.
Let's hope that it encourages Labour MPs to vote according to their conscience when the issue is debated in the Commons on Wednesday.Jane explains her reasons for speaking out on her own blog, which appears on her 'MySpace' web-pages which she has recently established as a way of communicating directly with the public - and especially younger people - in the run-up to the Assembly elections:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Female Chauvinist Pigs

Boobs for thought - From "Bus Pass Boob Jobs", the title of a recent Channel 4 programme about women over 60 getting breast implants, to the packed pole dancing classes at Cambridge university - society seems to be embracing an image of women's sexuality that in the past would have been identified with the world of pornography. ...
"If we're talking about what capitalism has done, let's look at global warming. A woman's right to empower herself to drive a SUV [sport utility vehicle] because it makes her feel protected in Los Angeles trumps the right of somebody not to live under water in an underprivileged country. Not everything that makes you feel good is necessarily the best thing. I think there should be some other measures of success that are beyond the economic - like human decency for instance!"
. ..published by Pocket Books and is available from Bookmarks - The Socialist bookshop for £7.99. Phone 020 7637 1848

Davidson condemns Trident update



Welsh cabinet minister Jane Davidson has condemned the UK Government's plans to update the Trident nuclear weapons system - so lets have some Welsh MPs speak out and pledge to vote against Trident renewal.

Soviet-Era Compound in Poland Was Secret CIA Prison Site

This explosive investigative report is the first to expose the location of one of the Bush-sanctioned prison sites for terror suspects in Europe.
By Larisa Alexandrovna and David Dastych, Raw Story. Posted March 7, 2007.

WHAT DID YOU PAY FOR YOUR LAST PAIR OF JEANS? Chapter Arts Centre

As part of the World Film Festival, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, are showing China Blue (PG) on 18th March 2007at 8pm.
By looking beyond the grim facts of sweatshop labour to reveal the flavour of their everyday lives, this makes personal the impact of globalization. Showing the families they leave behind in the countryside, their resilience, their determination and the dreams that drive these young girls, this offers an unrivalled view of the massive changes taking place in China.
The film will be followed by a discussion led by Jenny Howell of Oyster Clothing for those interested in exploring the issues further.

HENRY RICHARD: ‘THE APOSTLE FOR PEACEThursday, 29 March at 7pm You are invited to join the United Nations Association Wales and Prof John Gwynfor Jones to celebrate the life and work of Henry Richard, a founding figure in the peace movement. Henry Richard was a committed internationalist - his broader understanding partly inspired by his birth and upbringing inWales. At this time of heightened international tension and wars, the issues which inspired Henry Richard are even more relevant to us now.

Trident Vote 14 March lobby your MP


Calling on Welsh MPs to come out and vote against Trident. Write to yours.

Support and sign the declaration against nuclear weapons


Cynefin y Werin supports the World Court Project's Affirmation of Freedom from Nuclear Weapons.

Nuclear weapons do not make us secure. They are about insecurity, doubt and fear. People want to live in aworld free from the nuclear threat. This hope has the backing of law:

in 1968 the world’s governments signed a treaty promising to abolish these weapons;
in 1996 the World Court confirmed that this was a legal obligation, to be pursued in good faith;
in 2000 the US, Russia, France, China, and the UK made an "unequivocal commitment to accomplish the total elimination of nuclearweapons."
The network is encouraging supporters to complete and return the declaration that states:
I do not accept that nuclear weapons can defend me, my country, or the values I stand for.
info@cynefinywerin.org.uk

Women and Politics Today - A short report of Respect's Women's Conference

You maybe interested in this report of the Respect National Womens Conference.
In response to a resolution passed at the Respect National Conference held last year calling for a National Women's Conference to coincide with International Women's Day, Respect brought together over 100 women – and a few men – on 3rd March to discuss the position of women in Britain today, and progress on the women's rights movement on a global scale.

A diverse group of women participated in the event, and speakers ranged from journalists, academics and councillors to trade union leaders, NGO workers and leaders of the anti-war movement. It was also an historical conference because though International Women's Day was founded in 1910, in recent years it has come to be celebrated largely as an apolitical event. The Respect conference was an attempt to put politics and issues of class back into discussions around women's oppression.

The six workshops attempted to capture the most pressing issues facing women in Britain and the west today. Issues discussed ranged from the rise of raunch culture and abortion rights to Muslim women and politics, and whether women in general are able to pursue a career, have children and be actively involved in politics all at the same time. The point was made that while women now produce the majority of the wealth in the world, no woman should have to make the choice between pursuing a career or having children, or sacrificing an active political life.

Journalist Victoria Brittain helped open the session along with Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition, Linda Smith from the Fire Brigades Union and Rania Khan, a young Respect councillor in Tower Hamlets. Victoria discussed the idea that men are never going to relinquish power willingly, while Lindsey pointed out that the huge inequalities in society today are "not just about individual relationships to society" but rather structural inequalities. "Women got the vote on the same basis as men in 1928. Laws were passed on equal pay and sex discrimination more than 30 years ago. Yet there is still huge inequality," she said.

Iraqi writer Haifa Zangana and Eli Rostami-Povey of Action Iran introduced a powerful session on how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have set back the position of women in those countries. Haifa noted that while Iraqi women were fighting alongside men in the resistance against the British in 1922, we now have a situation where an Iraqi woman MP considers it unacceptable to speak in public. Not a particularly inspiring role model for young women in Iraq.

The National Women's Conference was welcomed by participants as the first women's conference that Respect has organised, with enthusiasm for similar forums in the future which would allow Respect women members and non-members to discuss action on the issues raised, such as developing a Respect policy on work/life balance and supporting campaigns on abortion rights.

The essence of the meeting was that while there have been clear advances, women are still fighting some of the same struggles today as they were from the beginning of the women's movement. The clear message was that politics must be put back into the fight for equality and that changing society and attitudes towards women are fundamental to realising women's rights

Did you miss the fact it was international womens day?

Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls or,


Yes - easy to miss. No big publicity or action on womens issues. International Womens Day elsewhere

The history of Women's Day dates back to New York in 1857, when hundreds of working women went on strike and demonstrated against low salaries, long working hours and inhuman working conditions. 35 Years later in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was decided that the anniversary day of the women's "New York Strike" would be celebrated as International Women's Day. On the 8th of March 1975, the UN (United Nations) officially declared the 8th of March as a day of women's rights and world peace.

Have a look at the piece on International Women's Day on the
John4Leader site, if you haven't already seen it and the proposed womens manifesto - they are looking for comments. i think we need a womens party! I think 'feminists for John' sounds so iffy - pathetic! Not the image we need really!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Norway to have single chamber parliament


Given the current debate here about reforming the House of Lords it is interesting to note that Norway is set to be the last of the Nordic countries to abandon a bicameral parliament. The division of parliament into two houses, the smaller Lagtinget and the larger Odelstinget, will end in October 2009. MPs voted in favour of the reform earlier this week. 22-02-2007

GB is lagging behind again and obiously noone in government has the wit to suggest a bicameral parliament.

Children: Breaking point

Children: Breaking point
Families of disabled children are desperate for more support in
care-giving and hope they have the sympathy of the next PM, reports
Annemarie Flanagan.

Why do we still have to campaign for things like this? Have these New LaBOUR politicans no heart?
Carers should be paid and that would help. What ever happened to the wages for housework campaign?

Guardian 27/2/07

Here comes the fascist police state in Blairworld

By Fingerbrain(Fingerbrain) Read this - really creepy frightening stuff. Do you want to be watched all the time? Say NO to home office plans. Let Welsh people decide what is best for Wales. Keep New Labour Louise Casey in England to boss them about.

The scheme is being financed by a Home Office section run by Louise Casey, the government’s “co-ordinator for respect”. Casey visited Middlesbrough in November to see the cameras working and also tried the system for herself. ...
..."To test the Middlesbrough system a reporter from The Sunday Times threw a newspaper onto the pavement outside a fast-food restaurant in Linthorpe Road. A passer-by was quickest off the mark. “You’ll get locked up for that. They’ve got these cameras that tell you off,” she said. Sure enough, a man’s voice boomed down: “Will the man in the woolly hat please pick up the paper?” The reporter obliged and the voice said: “Thank you.” The scheme is being financed by a Home Office section run by Louise Casey, the government’s “co-ordinator for respect”. Casey visited Middlesbrough in November to see the cameras working and also tried the system for herself. Since the trial began, speakers on eight cameras in Middlesbrough town centre have been “voice-activated” 156 times. The project initially cost £39,000 to set up. An extra £20,000 from Casey’s taskforce will pay for 10 more cameras to be installed this month. The cameras have a visual range of 250ft and can zoom in to identify faces. The volume can be changed, depending on the weather, and can be heard up to 150ft away. Doug Jewell, campaigns co-ordinator of Liberty, warned: “This latest high-tech toy gives camera operators massive powers to invade the lives of ordinary people. Anyone intent on committing a crime will merely move on and do
it elsewhere.”

John Deadwood video on Youtube!

AMs should stop Freedom of Information big increase in charges

Last week Maurice Frankel from the Campaign for Freedom of Information (CFoI) visited Wales. A number of Assembly Members will be joining us to discuss the UK Government's proposals to amend the fees regulations under the Freedom of Information Act, which would severely restrict its use.
We must demonstrate our support for the current Freedom of Information Act and our opposition to the proposed amendments.