Sunday, July 22, 2007

NO END IN SIGHT - NEW Documentary about lack of pre-war planning

No End In Sight [VIDEO]
Posted by Adam Howard at 6:29 AM on July 21, 2007.
A new documentary about the lack of pre-war planning and the disastrous occupation of Iraq gives more of an inside story and has more incendiary interviews than any previous film.

Fuel poverty Government fails targets

Fuel Poverty

A coalition of energy companies, including EDF Energy, E.ON UK and Scottish Power, have threatened to take the Government to court if, as appears likely, it misses its fuel poverty targets. In 2000, the Government made the legally binding commitment to completely eradicate fuel poverty among the vulnerable – the elderly, disabled and families on low incomes – by 2010. Households are defined as fuel poor if they spend more than 10 per cent of their disposable income, excluding housing benefits, on utility bills. But the number of fuel-poor households in the UK actually doubled between 2004 and 2006 from 1.2 million to 2.5 million as bills soared. The Government has been criticised for not providing enough funds to its Warm Front subsidy scheme tasked with tackling fuel poverty. The Treasury has earmarked £800m over the last three years to provide free insulation and heaters. But officials are working on the next Com! prehensive Spending Review (CSR), which will fix government department budgets for the next three years. There are fears that the budget for the Warm Front scheme – which stood at £350m this year – could be cut by one third. This would effectively end any remaining chance that the Government's 2010 fuel poverty target could be met.

Independent on Sunday 22nd July 2007

End unfair pay

Write to your mp and ask them to sign EDM 1876.

Does your MP pay your staff a living wage? Or does your MP have staff working for expenses only. ..students etc?

LAUNCH OF COALITION FIGHTING UNFAIR PAY 09.07.2007McDonnell, John That this House believes that the minimum wage is a progressive measure which has benefited hundreds of thousands of the poorest workers in Britain; is concerned that the current level does not represent a living wage and is discriminatory against younger workers; and supports the launch of the Coalition Fighting Unfair Pay by young Labour Party activists, which is campaigning for Labour councils to include a living wage without exemptions in their worker procurement contracts and for the Labour Party to adopt a living wage for all workers as its policy at annual conference.


EDM 1876 welcoming the launch of the campaign has been tabled ,and so far signed by:Labour PartyAnderson, David , Butler, Dawn , Caton, Martin , Clark, Katy , Corbyn, Jeremy , Dismore, Andrew , Gibson, Ian , Jones, Lynne , McDonnell, John , Prosser, Gwyn , Taylor, David andTrickett, Jon
Find your local MP's detailsby going to:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Petition to Ban Hummers

Petition to: Ban Hummers.

...the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Ban Hummers. More details Submitted by Anne...Signatures: 8 We, the undersigned, declare that Hummers which are over-sized, gas-guzzling, garishly...

Keep shops local

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Equality watchdogs?

Watchdogs criticise equality reform plans· Head of new rights body turns on government· Proposals seen as levelling down on discrimination Tania Branigan, political correspondent Monday July 16, 2007 The Guardian Just to note this!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Stop St Athans Development - read the history

For more information and to download a copy of Stuart's paper see: For his previous paper see below

The history of this proposal.
St Athan Development Brief July 2006 WAG, Metrix, Vale of Glamorgan

• In relation to the Training Academy proposal, the key dates for meeting the MoD’s DTR
timetable are as follows:
- March 2006 Development Brief to be considered by the Vale of Glamorgan Council
- May 2006 Public Consultation on the Development Brief
- July 2006 Final Development Brief considered by Council
- October 2006 Preferred Bidder Announcement by MoD
- January 2007 Submission of a Planning Application by Metrix for the proposed Training Academy
- May 2007 Target date for the Planning Application to be considered by the Vale of Glamorgan Council
- October 2007 Financial Close on DTR Project with MoD
- January 2008 Commencement on Site
- 2008-2011 Construction on Site
I have been blogging about this since last year!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Biggest ever PFI Military Academy Wales
Watchdog sniffs around Qinetiq's bid for billion-pound defence deal 11/12/2006 National Audit Office (NAO) could expand its investigation into the privatisation of defence contractor Qinetiq in order to examine whether the company's bid for a £10 billion defence private finance initiative contract created a conflict of interest.
St Athan: Wales goes for gold
Oct 28 2006 Minister Andrew Davies writes for the Western Mail
I HAVE been proud to support the bid to bring the UK's defence academy to Wales. If successful, members of all the UK's armed forces would be trained at the airbase.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Ms Hutt supporting biggest ever PFI military academy to improve electoral chances of her party?
'No hitches' on academy decision Dec 1 2006 Peter Collins, South Wales Echo
There will be no 'last-minute hitches with the Treasury' to delay a decision on where a multi-billion military training academy will be built. Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith and AM Jane Hutt were assured everything was on schedule at a meeting with the Government minister who will make the final decision.Mr Smith and Ms Hutt met Defence Minister Derek Twigg at the Ministry of Defence, in London, yesterday, in the final push to bring the £14bn academy contract to RAF St Athan.The Metrix consortium's bid to building the academy in South Wales is up against a bid by RAF Cosford, in the West Midlands.

Is this the same deal "Watchdog sniffs around Qinetiq's bid for billion-pacound defence deal" 11/12/2006. Under Qinetiq's plan, training for the armed forces would be transferred from sites in the West Midlands to a new academy in south Wales.But with elections in Wales due next year, critics also argue that Labour will give Qinetiq the contract to protect its constituencies in the region. "There also is some concern that politics will play a role here," said Pritchard. "The Welsh elections and the personal political ambitions of Peter Hain [the secretary of state for Wales and potential deputy prime ministerial candidate] may not be an insignificant factor in the overall decision (see more below)
At the same time PCS say "With over 20, 000 MoD jobs under threat from either job cuts or privatisation, 95% of members voting endorsed a campaign plan which includes the threat of industrial action. The indicative ballot result comes as the MoD seek to axe 14, 000 civilian posts across the country in areas including aviation repair, army repair, defence logistics and the defence supply chain. Massive privatisation of key areas of defence worth billions of pounds is also planned, including defence training and IT."
Posted by Theoretician at Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Academy latest report
Academy conflict of interest denialDec 28 2006The Government has denied claims that a 'conflict of interest' is threatening South Wales' chances of ...they continue to support this and no questions asked. Is it jobs at any price? Ethical or not?See previous post for background
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
St Athans Secret PFI Military Base
Express & Star Midlands Life: West Midlands features, people and ...St Athan is the preferred choice for the MeTRIX consortium including Qinetiq and Nord-anglia. But the clear message from the locals near St Athan is to take ...The trees are bent double on the gentle slopes rising from the Severn Estuary to the plain of St Athan, testimony to the gales that sweep these cold, grey shores.Today, a new wind is stirring this part of South Wales. It is the wind of change, promising to blow in £3,000 million and more than 1,200 jobs................Down at St Athan this week, we found not a single local politician, shopkeeper, estate agent or shopper who had even heard of the new project – and that includes people with relatives working on the base.See also previous posts and Academy conflict of interest denial
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Metrix consortium huge training base
Land Securities Group PLC Share Price LAND LAND.L GB0031809436 ...Metrix's consortium would create a huge training base in Wales, whereas its rivals would build training facilities in England. ...
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Sad day for St Athans
Remember there was treasury concerns over a potential conflict of interest. The Government partly owns the defence firm Qinetiq Group plc, which is a lead member of the Metrix consortium bidding to build the academy at St Athan.
Qinetiq is the former Government defence research agency which was privatised earlier this year. It has been tipped to defeat a bid from a rival group involving BAE Systems plc. The Government has a 20 per cent stake in Qinetiq.
Do the local people know what is in store for them? So do the residents of Cardiff welcome thousands of mercenaries to their city centre to drink and join in the nightly drunken melee! I think the local politicians calling for this have kept quiet about the reality of what is in store for the local people. I predict that this place will be a focus for protest and disent.
House of Commons debates Wednesday, 17 January 2007
What are Commons debates?
Oral Answers to Questions — Wales RAF St. Athan 11:30 am
Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative) Link to this Hansard source
What recent discussions he has had with colleagues in the Ministry of Defence on the future of RAF St. Athan.
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with Defence Ministers on a range of issues, including the current and future use of RAF St. Athan.
Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative) Link to this Hansard source
I understand that the defence training contract will be announced shortly. If it is awarded to St. Athan, will the Minister tell us what impact that will have on jobs in Wales?
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
As you know, Mr. Speaker, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will make a statement on the defence training review at 12.30 pm. It would not be appropriate for me to speculate on the outcome. However, it is well known that if the St. Athan bid is successful, it will have a substantial impact on Wales. We are talking about more than 5,000 jobs coming to Wales and an investment of £14 billion. If the bid is successful for the Metrix consortium, it will be evidence of the private and public sectors in Wales working together and coming forward with a world-beating bid to provide excellent training facilities for our defence forces.
John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) Link to this Hansard source
Does my hon. Friend agree that if the new military academy comes to RAF St. Athan, which is in my constituency, it will have an economy-transforming impact on south Wales because we will see the biggest single public investment ever in our country?
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
Yes, if that is the outcome. Again, I do not want to prejudge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence's statement at 12.30 pm, but if that is the outcome, it will undoubtedly be the largest public-sector investment in Wales, and possibly in the United Kingdom, as my hon. Friend says. It would put up to £58 million a year into the Welsh economy over the next 25 years. As he says, it would have a transforming influence on the economy of not just his constituency, but the valleys and the Cardiff-to-Newport corridor.
Robert Walter (North Dorset, Conservative) Link to this Hansard source
If that announcement is made at 12.30 pm, it will have a devastating impact on my constituency. Will the Minister confirm that the Welsh Assembly Government, through the Welsh Development Agency, have made available £100 million for infrastructure to support the Metrix bid? Does he agree that if the contract, worth up to £16 billion, is awarded to south Wales, it will enhance Labour Assembly Members' prospects of being re-elected to the Assembly, and therefore of retaining control of the Welsh Assembly?
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
I had a certain amount of respect for the hon. Gentleman until he made that last comment. The fact is that the Ministry of Defence ensured that the awarding of the contract was subject to a rigorous impartial evaluation process, which means that whatever the outcome announced in less than an hour's time, it will be based straightforwardly on the quality of the winning bid. To claim that there is some sort of dirty, backstairs deal being done, as the hon. Gentleman implies, demeans him and the party that he represents.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda, Labour) Link to this Hansard source
As Wales represents 6 per cent. of the population, but 9 per cent. of the armed forces, is not the most important point about the two contracts, if they are awarded to St. Athan, the fact that we will be providing our troops with what they really need and deserve, namely the very best training, which they need for modern warfare and modern peacekeeping?
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
Absolutely. Obviously, there are huge economic benefits to the awarding of the contract, but the most important issue, and the reason why the Ministry of Defence went down the road of looking into establishing a defence training academy, is to improve and expand the training for our armed forces. That is the driver behind the decision. The issue is not just the benefits that the decision will bring to Wales but, as my hon. Friend says—and I congratulate him on all his work in dealing with and supporting the Metrix bid—the fact that our forces will have a state-of-the-art defence academy to provide them with the best training possible.
Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham, Conservative) Link to this Hansard source
Mr. Deputy Speaker— [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker, I offer an unreserved apology.
We know that we do not always need to disagree in politics, and I know that the Minister and I—I speak for my party's Front-Benchers—are equally keen that the contract for the training of our forces should be awarded to St. Athan later today. Indeed, I am on record as having supported the bid right from the start, along with colleagues on the other Benches. However, we understand that each Member will fight for their own constituency interests, and should be allowed to do so. Does he agree that such a decision would underline the enormous benefit to Wales of being a full participant in the United Kingdom, and would not have been made at all if the separatists, some of whom sit in the House, who even oppose recruitment to the armed forces in Wales, had their way by tearing Wales out of the Union?
Nick Ainger (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Secretary of State for Wales) Link to this Hansard source
Well, may I tell the hon. Lady that the road that her party seems to be taking in pursuing an English Parliament is actually contributing to the separation of the United Kingdom? Only a few weeks ago, her party in Wales was clearly in discussions about forming a coalition with the nationalists, so perhaps—
Michael Martin (Speaker) Link to this Hansard source
Order. We are straying a little far from RAF St. Athan.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Hundreds of jobs to go .Garrison camp to close
Garrison camp to closeReading Evening Post - Reading,England,UK... Wednesday this week as part of a phase one DTR announcement, revealing Metrix Consortium had won a £14 billion contract to provide training for the MoD. ...How MOD and the government mess folk about.. divide and rule!!Hundreds of jobs to go as defence training movesDaily Echo - Southampton,Hampshire,UKIn awarding the 25-year £16 billion public private partnership to the Metrix consortium, the government dealt a further blow to Hampshire by rejecting a ...
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Only 1500 new jobs tops not the 5000 promised
Government invests £16bn in defence training - UKThe first of two packages won by the Metrix Consortium will see training for 6500 personnel transferred to the two sites over five years from 2008. ...It seems that the numbers of new jobs promised at the biggest PFI ever has been greatly exaggerated.. Not 5,000.. not 4,000...not evan 3,000 or 2,000 maybe 1500?And of course the number of folk to build. how many of these jobs will go to local people? How many will be low paid menial jobs?

Saturday, January 20, 2007
PCS recact furiously to decison to award St Athans contract to the private sector
The PCS union, which represents worker at the MoD reacted furiously to the decision to award the contract to the private sector.It said the plans would result in a 'brain drain' that jeopardised future defence capability and see 2,000 staff transferred 'into a compulsory redundancy situation'.The union raised doubts about the number of new jobs that would actually be created by Metrix at a new 'super training' site in St Athan in Wales with existing staff transferring there from around the country.PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the only winners in the deal 'are the shareholders of the Metrix consortium'.'The total refusal to allow an in-house bid underlines the increasingly dogmatic approach the government is taking to privatisation. Whilst the plans may appear to be good news for Wales, there are serious doubts about the number of new jobs these plans, which are reliant on forcing staff to up root and move to keep their job, will actually produce,' he said.'Today's massive privatisation will further anger dedicated staff already facing job losses and below inflation pay, making a yes vote for national industrial action across the civil service increasingly likely.''We are determined to avoid compulsory redundancies and relocations and will be ensuring that the MoD and Cabinet Office work with us to achieveQinetiq defence contract win sparks political row UPDATE
Defence Secretary Des Browne confirmed the decision to give the deal to the Metrix consortium, sparking allegations from industry rivals that it was ...
Defence Training ReviewMetrix consortium awarded Preferred Bidder status under Defence Training Review. The Metrix consortium has been awarded Preferred Bidder status for both
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
St Athans fat cats Fees Bonanza
Herbies enlisted for £16bn military training PFILegal Week, UK - Herbert Smith is in line for a fees windfall after scoring a major role advising on one of the UK¹s biggest private finance schemes to date. ...Number of training bases to go from 30 to 10Simmons wins MoD role against all odds The Lawyer, UK - Simmons & Simmons has managed to retain its leading role on one of the Ministry of Defence’s biggest ever outsourcing deals, despite being booted off the off the panel last year.Why was that then?See also
Friday, February 2, 2007
St Athans to save new labour letter
How many new jobs will be created? The decision to privatise the training of the UKs Armed Forces has drawn an angry response from the Public and Commercial Services Union, which warned the plans would result in a brain drain jeopardising future defence capability and see 2,000 staff transferred into a compulsory redundancy situation.The £19bn contract handed to the Metrix consortium by the Ministry of Defence will see training in everything from tank driving to technology handed to the private sector in a deal resulting in the closure of more than 19 sites with training centred on one site at St Athan.The union raised doubts about the number of new jobs that would actually be created by Metrix in Wales with existing staff transferring to St Athan from around the country.The union also warned of a loss of specialist knowledge and expertise with 80 per cent of specialist instructional officers indicating that they would be unwilling to move from across the country to St Athan.Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary said: 'The only winners in the privatisation of defence training are the shareholders of the Metrix consortium.'The massive privatisation will further anger dedicated staff already facing job losses and below inflation pay, making a yes vote for national industrial action across the civil service increasingly likely.'This is a blatant attempt to save the Labour party prior to the National Assembly elections.SMorgan Rogers, Highbury Park, London
Friday, February 2, 2007
Plaid under attack over defence contractic Wales - Cardiff,UKDuring exchanges in the Senedd, Mr Davies said Plaid would have "hauled up the white flag" on a defence training contract which is en route to south Wales. ...Taking questions in the chamber, Mr Davies accused Plaid’s parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd of opposing the privatisation of defence training…Plaid AM Owen John Thomas asked Mr Davies if he could guarantee jobs at St Athan would go to local people.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Rhrodri Morgan 'St Athans Defence Training Academy an example of Labour Labour Patnership in Wales and Westminster plus Blair not an issue
The leadership of the UK party was not an issue for Welsh Labour, he added."I think it's an issue for the prime minister to determine and it's an issue for those who are interested in the leadership - like Gordon Brown - to determine as well," he said. "It's not for us."Mr Morgan said that the two Labour governments - in Westminster and Cardiff - had shown that they could work together "in harmony and partnership". He cited a defence training academy which is expected to create thousands of jobs in south Wales - "the biggest ever government investment ... for the last half-century in Wales" - as an example of "Labour-Labour partnership in Wales and Westminster".
Western Mail Aerospace must not be overshadowed Feb 3 2007 Martin Evans,
Story continues

Sunday, February 4, 2007
St Athans A Con - mega privatisation project
From SEREN 'Plaid should have had the courage of their convictions and said St Athan was a con - a privatisation that would do little for the Welsh economy and, taking a wider perspective, damage areas in England where bases were closing. Few local people will get the skilled jobs as trainers re-locate from the 16 bases being closed. Plaid is an anti-war party and a firm stance here would have had Davies backpeddling as the warmonger and liar he is.'St Athans - is it good for Wales?
Saturday, February 10, 2007
St Athans myths from Rhrodri Morgan
Recently New Labour MPs in Wales and AMs such as New Labour Rhrodri Morgan fell over them selves to sell the myth to the welsh people that a mega military academy - the largest PFI ever - that is - the biggest PRIVATISATION at St Athans is good for Wales! ..That it will create 5000 jobs - not very likely...a private company could soon be advertising for nuclear submarine experts in job centres in Wales! 80% of existing MOD traing staff will have to move to Wales.Saved MOD blushes.............when the £100m Red Dragon Super Hanger built by mod for fighter repairs before moving all fighter work out of Wales!
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Welsh affairs committee welcomes St Athans fiasco!
Session 2006-0717 January 2007Press Notice No 4 Welsh Affairs Committee welcomes decision to locate multi-billion pound training academy at St Athan. The Welsh Affairs Committee today welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Defence to award the contract for a new military training academy based at St Athan.The contract will create around 5,000 jobs and contribute £58 million a year to the local economy. Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Dr Hywel Francis said: “This is great news for Wales and for the future of British military excellence. “As the largest single investment by the Government in Wales ever, it will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the economy in South Wales, providing much needed jobs and investment. We congratulate the Defence Secretary Des Browne on his decision and we look forward with great anticipation to the opening of this centre of excellence in 2013.”..But is this true? Does Dr Hywel Francis support PFI so whole heartedly and do his constituents realise this? Does he really think 5000 jobs will be created. who is paying for the necessary con ditional road building and has anny one consulted with the local people or considered the environmental impact of this road building and the academy in Wales? The Welsh Affairs Committee Members are:Dr Hywel Francis MP, (Chairman) Labour, AberavonMr Stephen Crabb MP, Conservative, Preseli PembrokeshireDavid T. C. Davies MP, Conservative, MonmouthNia Griffith MP, Labour, LlanelliMrs Siân C. James MP, Labour, Swansea EastMr David Jones MP, Conservative, Clwyd WestMr Martyn Jones MP, Labour, Clwyd SouthJessica Morden MP, Labour, Newport EastAlbert Owen MP, Labour, Ynys MônMark Williams MP, Liberal Democrat, CeredigionHywel Williams MP, Plaid, Caernarfon
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Private equity group sells out of Qinetiq amid audit office inquiry
The Carlyle Group said yesterday that it was selling its remaining stake in Qinetiq, the privatised defence and security concern, in a move that will provide further ammunition for critics of the private equity sector. Carlyle, which acquired a 33% stake in Qinetiq in 2002 for £42.5m, sold some £160m of shares when the UK company was floated a year ago and stands to pocket a further £140m from the sale of its remaining 67.8m shares.The National Audit Office announced last year that it was to investigate the privatisation of Qinetiq and said then that the price at which Carlyle acquired its original holding was one of the issues it would be looking at. Last night the NAO said the investigation was continuing and that it expected its report on the Qinetiq privatisation to be completed by the spring. Mark Milner Friday February 9, 2007 The Guardian
Sunday, February 18, 2007
QinetiQ stock dealings make some trigger happy
From Julia Finch Friday February 16, 2007 The GuardianWhy are we not surprised at QinetiQ boss Graham Love's rush to sell a large wodge of his shares at the earliest possible opportunity?QinetiQ, for those with short memories, is the defence technology group privatised by the government last year in a controversial move that generated paper fortunes worth more than £20m for the group's chairman and chief executive, Sir John Chisholm and Love.Yesterday Love and Andrew Sleigh, managing director of the business, leapt at the chance to turn their shares into real money - about £6m and £1.8n respectively. They acted just days after the first phase of a lock-in agreement came to an end. The three-phase lock-in allows directors to sell about a third of their shares after 12, 24 and 36 months. Love chose to flog 27% of his holding ASAP.His dealings came days after the US private equity group Carlyle cashed in its last chips in QinetiQ. The sale ended a highly lucrative and controversial investment for the Americans. They acquired 31% of QinetiQ from the UK government for £42m in 2003. They then raised some £160m selling part of their stake at flotation and a week ago sold the rest, raising £140m.Carlyle, whose image was so battered by Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and whose directors once included the former president Bush and ex-prime minister John Major, is now out of the picture and evidently attempting an image makeover.For shareholders who rushed to buy QinetiQ at the float, it has not been an impressive year. The shares, floated at 200p, were standing at 206p last night. And the company, which recently installed the former CIA boss George Tenet on its board, remains contentious.Only last month the government, - QinetiQ's biggest shareholder with a 19% stake - was involved in a row after making consortiums led by the company preferred bidders on a £16bn private finance initiative contract for the MoD.Why does the defence business always seem so tawdry?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
St Athan academy road links plan thrown into doubt
Rhrodri makes promises he can't keep without using our money to line Metrix consortium pockets!!Feb 16 2007 Peter Collins, South Wales EchoFirst Minister Rhodri Morgan has signalled the Assembly is moving away from plans to upgrade road links with the Cardiff International Airport.It had been believed that the new 5,500-job military academy in the Vale of Glamorgan would lead to huge improvements in the transport network.But at a meeting with business leaders, Mr Morgan said the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) would not be able to raise private funding to pay for the scheme. He said it was also unlikely that a private company would be able to charge a toll for a road from the M4 to the airport.Plans to trunk the A48 from Culverhouse Cross to Sycamore Cross and parts of three roads leading to the airport, were scrapped following public opposition, although WAG was understood to be keen to press ahead with improved road links from the M4 to the airport.But at the meeting with business leaders, Mr Morgan said: 'You may not get a dual carriageway from the M4. What company would want to have a toll on that road?'He also used the example of Bristol Airport which has poor road links and said that it did not seem to have harmed its development.Villagers in the Vale were concerned at talk about trunking the road from Culverhouse Cross and at the plans to build a new road from the M4 directly to the airport.A spokesman for the Metrix consortium, the group behind the successful St Athan bid, said they had no public comment to make on Mr Morgan's views. But the consortium has embarked on detailed negotiations with WAG and others on the infrastructure implications of the academy developmentIn an exclusive interview with the Echo this week, Mike Hayle, chief executive of Metrix, said continued public support was vital. He also said: 'It is also important that the Assembly Government shows that it will deliver what it said it would deliver.'A major development blueprint which will be used as a guide for the academy plans concluded that 'there is sufficient highway capacity within the local road infrastructure to absorb the impact of the development'. The conclusion was reached by a transport group which included Assembly Government representatives and Metrix.
Monday, March 19, 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

IntroductionEver 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 MilitarismWith 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 AggressionWhile 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 WorkIt 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 AccountingEven 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 PrivatisationCommitting 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 ManufacturerJust 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?ConclusionThere 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.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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 HillSeveral 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." ....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
St Athan development must include better public transport links, Sir Menzies Campbell?
I fear he means new roads. Sir Menzies Campbell and Lib Dem's support St Athans new military academy where there won't be anything like 5000 new jobs. Jobs are being lost all over the UK to be moved to the super PFI privatised military academy run by the biggest arms dealers - PCS say over 20,000 MoD jobs under threat from either job cuts or privatisation. Did anyone ask the people of Wales if they wanted this mega killing school.See the campaign against St Athans links on this blog - right handside further down.Stop ripping the heart out of our public servicesOur national campaign to protect jobs and public services has reached a crucial stage with news of compulsory redundancies amongst our membership, mounting pay problems and accelerating privatisation.On this campaign sub-site you can sign our on-line petition which will be presented in parliament and e-mail your MP. Do we want to tackle child poverty - More information and other campaign activities can be found at

Labour Plaid coalition

Labour-Plaid coalition is sealed A momentous Welsh assembly coalition goes ahead as Plaid Cymru decides to team up with Labour.
Ieuan Wyn Jones is to Rhrodri Morgan what Tony Blair is to Bush! Grovel, grovel, anything to get himself into power and get his name on a door in the coridoor of power! Has he sold out cheap or has he got some real concessions from Rhrodri?

French official suggested Bush behind Sept 11 attacks

French official suggested Bush was behind September 11 attacks 07 Jul 2007
A senior French politician, now a minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, suggested last year that U.S. President George W. Bush might have been behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a website. The website has posted a video clip of French Housing Minister Christine Boutin appearing to question that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda [al-CIAduh] group orchestrated the attacks.