Saturday, 30 April 2011

Employment figures Anglesey 2001 - 2010

The above chart shows the quarterly employment figures for those aged 16 and over. The data is from StatsWales

Before 2005 only an yearly average is available and are 2004 - 29800, 2003 - 29700, 2002 - 28100, 2001 - 28200.

In between 2005 and the 2nd quarter of 2010 (the latest figures currently available) other than for the 2nd quarter of 2009, employment figures have fluctuated between 29,000 and 30,000. In the 2nd quarter of 2009 the number employed fell to 28,700, but since then; other than for the 4th quarter in 2009, there has been a steady increase in the number of people in total employment.

The number employed in the private and public sectors (where recorded) are shown in the chart below:

Friday, 29 April 2011

Prince William given title of posh pub

The Prince formerly known as 'Prince William of Wales' has been given a new title, the name of a pub.

"The Duke of Cambridge has been Oxford's leading cocktail bar for 30 years.

Located in the bohemian district of Jericho, the bar is always bursting with atmosphere at the weekends, with a more chilled vibe in the week. Fresh ingredients, cool interiors and friendly staff give the Duke genuine character and style."

Visiting Oxford why not visit the Duke of Cambridge.

From Wikipedia:

"The Prince Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge, KG, GCB, GCH, GCMG, PC (Adolphus Frederick; 24 February 1774 – 8 July 1850), was the tenth child and seventh son of George III and Queen Charlotte. He held the title of Duke of Cambridge from 1801 until his death. He also served as Viceroy of Hanover on behalf of his brothers George IV and William IV. His granddaughter, Mary of Teck, was Queen consort of the United Kingdom and paternal grandmother of the current monarch, Elizabeth II."

But one title was not enough for the young Duke, you should also address him as the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.

In full, his new title is:

His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Master of Arts.

As Wikipedia explains:

"As a British prince, William does not use a surname for everyday purposes. For formal and ceremonial purposes, the children of Princes of Wales, like the children of Royal Dukes, use the title of Prince or Princess before their Christian name and their father's territorial designation after it, so Prince William was "Prince William of Wales" and Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie use of York, per their father, the Duke of York. Such area-based surnames are discarded by women when they marry or by men if they are given a peerage of their own, such as when Prince William was given his dukedom."

So he is not Prince William of Wales anymore, we've been discarded.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The real reason Octel Amlwch closed

In his latest missive Paul Williams aka 'The Druid' thinks it beneficial to mention Octel and its closure in 2005 with a loss of 105 jobs.

As he says “Well known companies which survived the recession of the 1980s and 90s, which have provided stable, well paid work for generations of Islanders have in recent years closed in rapid succession”.

Octel is first on his list, following the above statement see: Seven days to go:

Octel produced ‘bromide’ an additive for leaded petrol, to stop ‘knocking’, and after the introduction of Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP) the need for bromide was significantly reduced.

Therefore the real reason Octel Amlwch closed was the complete collapse in the price of bromide which made production at Amlwch uneconomical.

In other words, the world moved on, with what is claimed safer fuels being produced. None of this had anything to do with the Welsh Assembly - therefore why Paul Williams is keen to mention this company is really lost on us?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Growth returns to UK, albeit slowly

The preliminary figures released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that in the first quarter of this year the economy; as measured by GDP, grew by 0.5%. This is good news as hopefully the country has avoided a double dip recession.

However, and as I have posted before (What now for Anglesey and the economy) the above chart shows the economy has an over reliance on 'Business Services and Finance', especially in England and Scotland.

The first quarter of 2011 has seen modest growth in most sectors, other than for construction which again has seen a decline, and 'Total Production' which although has a growth of 0.4%, was less than the 0.8% growth, achieved in the last quarter of 2010.

Of interest is the growth in the 'Distribution, Hotels and Restaurant' sector, which although small, may indicate many of us are having a staycation this year. It may also show the start of the Royal Wedding affect on our economy.

However whilst we should be somewhat optimistic about these figures, we should be cautious as the economy is still flat, the effects of the main public spending cuts are still to be felt, and then there is the slow down in the production of motor vehicles and consequences thereof, due to the natural disaster in Japan.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Don’t make Gaddafi a martyr

A report in today's Times says that Liam Fox, the British Defence Secretary, is to hold talks in the US over bombing of command control centres that could be sheltering Colonel Gaddafi.

In defending what is officially not official policy; the targeting of Colonel Gaddafi, Liam Fox said “All parts of command and control are always legitimate targets so long as they are attacking civilians” and “Those who are involved need to recognise we regard them as legitimate targets”

As the Times points out “Officially, the Nato air offensive attacks only physical structures rather than individuals, as an explicit assassination strategy could be ruled illegal under UN resolution 1973.”

Putting the above to one side, there are a number of problems with this non-official strategy. Colonel Gaddafi and his advisers know fully well the security risk, and I doubt you would find him within miles of a command and control centre, or any traceable means of communication, much better for him to be surrounded by as many civilians as possible.

Then we need to ask is he really still in charge - or is it his son and or tribal leaders who are really calling the shots?

I thought our country believed in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and that a person had a right to a fair trial irrespective of how objectionable their crimes were. What started out as an humanitarian mission is quickly becoming in the eyes of many as imposition of rule by the West, especially if by killing Colonel Gaddafi all we do is turn him into a martyr and escalate the civil war that is occurring in Libya.

It's clear that Russia and Arab states object most strongly to any Nato or UN ground force in Libya.

It's clear that peace cannot be imposed by airpower alone, especially in a divided country made up of many opposing factions.

And rather than finding a peaceful solution to this conflict, by seeking out influential leaders within the ruling factions of Libya with a road map to peace, we seek vengeance and set out to kill their leader?

As Israel has found out, killing the leaders of a movement is never the answer as it only leads to anger and the radicalisation of others.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

And my North Wales Regional Vote goes to

Having decided to vote YES to AV, I've also decided for whom I shall be voting for in the regional ballot.

This year my regional vote goes to the Liberal Democrats, there are many reasons why - but above all I believe that Aled Roberts and currently leader of Wrexham County Borough Council would be a very good Assembly Member.

Aled Roberts came top of the Liberal Democrats ballot for the North Wales regional list.

Read a profile of Aled Roberts: Liberal Democrats website

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A Holyhead success story – the Holyhead Group.

Not all news about Holyhead is bad news.

The Holyhead Group, better known locally as Holyhead Boatyard and Holyhead Towing was one of only two welsh firms to be featured in the recently published Sunday Times Profit Track 100.

As reported in the Daily Post today:

“With a turnover of £29.8m, profit growth of 45% to £7.8m and 207 employees it is one of the country’s best-performing firms, specialising in repairing and refitting tugs, pilot boats and crew boats. It also builds a range of boats, from tourist ferries to patrol craft used by the Royal Marines and the Ministry of Defence.”

Read more:
Holyhead Group
Holyhead Towing
Holyhead Marine

Previous post - Successful Anglesey Companies

Monday, 18 April 2011

The cornerstones of a good education

Today it seems education has taken center (or is that centre?) stage in the Welsh assembly election. You can read all about it at BBC Wales News.

This blog is a strong supporter of the Finland education model, and the main political parties will need to persuade me that they can deliver the cornerstones of a good education system.

The following is from an earlier post - The cornerstones of a good education [in Finland] are:

Same nine-year basic school for all. Finnish children start compulsory nine-year basic school in August of the year when they turn seven years old.

Good teachers. The teaching profession has always enjoyed great public respect and appreciation in Finland. Parents trust teachers as professionals who know what is best for their children. Teachers therefore have considerable independence in the classroom in terms of choosing appropriate pedagogical methods

Sustainable leadership. Education sector development in Finland has been based on the continuous adjustment of schooling to the changing needs of children, families, and society.

Recognition and appreciation of existing innovations. During the last 30 years, the culture of innovation has taken root in the education system.

Flexible accountability, i.e. focus on deep learning, not testing. Finland has not followed the Anglo-Saxon accountability movement in education that believes in making schools and teachers accountable for learning results. Traditionally, evaluation of student outcomes has been the task of each teacher and school in Finland. The only standardized high-stake assessment is the Matriculation Examination at the end of upper-secondary school before students enroll in tertiary education. Prior to this Matriculation Examination, no external national tests or exams are required. This has helped both students and teachers to focus on learning in a fear-free environment. At the same time, creativity and risk-taking have also become common features in Finnish schools.

The culture of trust. The culture of trust basically means that the system, that is, the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education, believes that teachers together with principals, parents, and their communities know how to provide the best possible education for their children and youth.

See also:

Education, Wales and Finland
Education in Wales - some suggestions

The A5025 needs improving

The A5025 is an essential highway link for the island, it is a holiday route giving access to some excellent resorts and a daily commuter route.

Over the years sections of the A5025 have been improved, some where carried out when Wylfa A was built, other sections may be improved in conjunction with Wylfa B i.e Llanfachraeth bypass.

Even then far too many road accidents on the A5025 have meant death. The Police and the Council’s Road Safety team would have investigated each tragic death. They will have made recommendations on road safety improvements required. The report of the coroner would also have been taken into account.

As a minimum road safety measures would have been put in place i.e. additional signs, changes to the road surface or reducing the speed limit on the substandard section of road.

Whilst a minimalist approach to road safety may reduce the risk of one type of accident, they are never the answer in the long term. Reducing the risk of an accident brought about by one set of circumstances may sadly increase the chances of another type of accident. This is known as the law of unintended consequences.

In the long term the only real answer is for the A5025 to be improved to meet current standards, and there are very good reasons why, here are just three:

  • To make the road safer and reduce needless lives being lost.

  • To provide better access to Amlwch, a poor area on the island in need of jobs.

  • To provide quicker emergency response times for emergency vehicles.

However all things costs money, and we haven’t got much of it left in the pot we are told.

But sometimes it makes sense to borrow to invest in the future, because of the potential number of lives saved, the economic investment that could be brought about following a infrastructure improvement, and not forgetting the jobs it would support, albeit in the short term, whilst the highway works are carried out.

I trust all candidates standing for the Anglesey constituency at the Welsh Assembly will make the improvement of the A5025 one of their priorities.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Will Plaid Cymru sign a pledge on tuition fees?

The Welsh Conservatives we are told wrote their manifesto with coalition in mind. It lays down policies that they won’t or can’t change in any subsequent negotiation for a possible coalition government.

One such issue I suspect is student tuition fees, it’s not surprising that the Conservatives are promoting a similar policy to the one they are implementing in England.

Their welsh policy is:

"Implement a fair and sustainable fees system for Higher Education in Wales. Universities will be permitted to raise fees to a maximum of £9,000 subject to WAG approval.

Establish a hardship fund, to help the most disadvantaged students. Bursaries will be linked to basic entrepreneurship training to cultivate an enterprising mind–set in our students."

Plaid Cymru, a possible coalition partner to the Conservatives after May 5, have a very different policy on student tuition and is as follows:

"A Plaid Government will meet the extra cost of top-up fees for Welsh domiciled students, whether they study in Wales or elsewhere within the UK. We will not support any further increases in tuition fees for our higher education students and we will seek the abolition of tuition fees as and when public finances allow."

The question is a familiar one that faced Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats when they joined the Conservative led coalition UK government.

It will be interesting to see, should the results make a rainbow coalition government possible in Wales, whether this is one of the policies that Plaid Cymru are also willing to abandon?

Competition in the Health Care Sector [in USA]

This is an extract from the book ‘Competition in the Health Care Sector: Ten Years Later’ edited by Warren Greenberg and published in 1988 and deals with the USA health care system.

Warren Greenberg, Ph.D. is a professor of health economics and health care sciences and a senior fellow with the Center for Health Policy Research at the George Washington University. He is also a scholar in residence at the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

The following extract is from the introduction by Warren Greenberg.

“It appears that competition has increased substantially among providers and among insures and health plans since 1977, perhaps more than anyone predicted or though possible. Economic theory would suggest that this increase in competition should have resulted in a more efficient allocation of health care services. The distribution of health care services is still markedly unequal, however. At least 37 million individuals are without health insurance (versus 27 million in 1977), and it appears to be increasingly difficult for someone who is chronically ill to obtain individual health insurance. As in other sectors of the economy, it is clear in the health care sector that a more efficient allocation of resources alone can never solve an equity concern.

The increase in competition has also been unsuccessful in containing health care costs. The rate of increase in health care costs continues to exceed the rate of increase in all consumer or producer prices. This is not surprising. An improved allocation of resources may result in a one time reduction in health care costs, but competitive industries are at least as prone as monopolistic industries to experience increases in cost over time. In addition, the increased development and diffusion of higher-cost health care technology appears to be immune to structure considerations.”

Read more of the book at Google Books

Friday, 15 April 2011

Meanwhile in Scotland

According to the YouGov Scotsman poll its neck and neck between Labour and SNP. The sample was 1026, the fieldwork 26th to 28th March. The figures are weighted for likelihood to vote.

Read all about it at YouGov The May Elections

Update 1/05/2011: If you have arrived at this post looking for Anglesey or Ynys Môn (as the island is known in the Welsh language), where Prince William, Duke of Cambridge works at RAF Valley by searching 'Anglesey, Scotland' then you've got the wrong country. Anglesey is part of Wales (Cymru in the Welsh Language). Find out more by following the 'visit anglesey' link or search again using Anglesey, Wales.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Unemployment higher in Wales

First the good news, the number of people economically active in Wales, between December 2010 and February 2011, increased slightly by 0.5% to 74.3%.

The employment rate also increased slightly to 67.7% an increase of 0.4%.
The economic inactive rate is 25.7%, a fall of 0.5%.

The bad news, the number of people unemployed increased by over 3,000 to 126,000 or 8.6% an increase of 0.2%.

In the quarter September to December 2010 the sectors that lost the most jobs were:

Mining & quarrying –5.3%
Electricity, gas, steam & air conditioning supply –5.8%
Wholesale & retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles –4.7%
Professional scientific & technical activities –17.5%
Administrative & support service activities –9%.

On a positive note there was a slight increase in the number of manufacturing jobs which increased by 1.9%.

Source: ONS Regional Monthly Data April 2011

Saturday, 9 April 2011

No trust in Police Commissioners say Public

A police commissioner

A YouGov poll on behalf of Liberty found that only 15% trust elected police and crime commissioners, more than the present system to protect their family.

Whereas, YouGov found 65% of the public prefer a chief constable reporting to a police authority. The remaining fifth were unsure.

Read More:
Public turn against elected police commissioners -
Liberty Press Release - Lack of public trust in elected police commissioners

Friday, 8 April 2011

And Rhys Taylor is?

This is not Rhys Taylor, this IS Rhys Taylor

Rhys Taylor is a Chelsea AFC first team goalkeeper, who is currently on loan to Crewe.

However should you want to find out about the other Rhys Taylor, the Liberal Democrats Welsh Assembly candidate for Ynys Môn, you can visit his blog at or follow him on twitter @syhrtaylor.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Public against private Blood Service.

Privatisation of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service would not be supported by the British public if it were approved by the Government, the results of a survey by YouGov reveals:

  • 64% of people oppose plans to use private companies to run part of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service

  • 25% would agree with the privatisation if it went ahead, with only 4% saying they would ‘strongly support’ the move

Read More: YouGov - NHS Blood:'Don't privatise'
See also: National Blood Service

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Welsh Assembly Elections - The candidates for Ynys Môn

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid Cymru
Paul Williams, Conservatives
Joe Lock, Labour
Rhys Taylor, Liberal Democrats.

The interesting question this time is what will happen to Peter Rogers votes of the 2007 Welsh Assembly Election.

Many Anglesey Conservatives believe that had Peter Rogers not stood in 2007 that their candidate would have been much closer to Ieuan Wyn Jones.

A belief recently repeated by the Paul Williams, the welsh speaking, Anglesey born Conservative candidate. The argument goes if you add the 6,261 votes for Peter Rogers with the 3,480 for the then Conservative candidate and 912 for UKIP you’d get 10,574 votes.

I suspect though that Peter Rogers may have had cross party appeal, and some tactical voting by Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters.

An alternative explanation therefore for the votes Peter Rogers gained could have been a combination of votes (difference between 2007 and 2003), the - 1,343 Labour votes, 3,717 Conservative votes (some of which may have gone to UKIP), 1,147 Liberal Democrats. In total 6207.

Maybe we need to consider the 2003 results - PC 37%, L 24%, C 29% and a need for a 8% swing for the Conservatives to gain the seat, which is only 2,017 votes.

And then what will happen to the Liberal Democrats votes?

All in all rather to close to call - although if Plaid Cymru can motivate their supporters to vote, my thoughts are a Plaid Cymru hold with a reduced majority, with Paul Williams a close second.

Note: We should remember that in 1999 Ieuan Wyn Jones had 53% of the vote, and in 2007 he had 40% of the vote, which was 18% higher than the ITV YouGov Poll of the time.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Who will be the next Conservative leader?

'Thing is it ain't going according to the script', his economic policy seem flawed, his reforms of the NHS are going pear shape, and he is likely to see his party suffer heavy defeat at the polls in May. But worse of all the squeezed middle are beginning to revolt. David Cameron made a big mistake, he told them to grow up, and they did by discovering their right to protest.

We are told the NHS reforms are the largest since the NHS was founded. But they can’t be can they? - as these current reforms only affect England, whereas when the NHS was founded it improved health service throughout Great Britain.

Some say this the beginning of the end of the NHS as we know it, and that it will eventually lead to a privatised NHS, something the Conservatives fervently deny.

In a previous post, I said the NHS reforms were a big gamble for David Cameron, and it seems I was right. Now instead of listening to the people, many of which are unhappy with the proposed reforms, he and his mate Nick Clegg are about to embark on a sales drive, where they will tell us that they are right and we are wrong.

'Trust us' they will say, 'these reforms are right and necessary'. An often repeated phrase in the face of opposition - its right and necessary, or code for we are right, you are wrong.

In terms of the economy, even senior Conservatives are talking about a period of stagnation; Ken Clarke and Oliver Letwin to name just two, before 'hopefully' the economy begins to recover.

The difference in 'cuts' between what the Conservative led Coalition Government are implementing, and what Labour proposed (over the life of the parliament)- not that great, especially as a percentage of the governments overall debt (which will not be reduced, just that its rate of increase its hoped will be slowed.)

The Conservative led Coalition Government want to eliminate the structural deficit (that’s the difference between how much our government spends and collects in taxes) one year earlier than they needed too. This is the key Conservative led Coalition Government economic policy, front loading the greatest burden of the cuts and tax increases on the early years. The important element, a growing private sector, to replace the jobs lost.

In other words another gamble, Labour’s gamble was that increased public spending would be matched by more taxes from a growing economy. This seemed to be working, until is that is the banking sector collapsed, and we realised the mistake Gordon Brown had made, over-reliance on the business and service sectors.

The Conservatives gamble that the jobs lost in the public sector would be replaced by jobs in the private sector, and a growing economy. And that is the unanswered question by both parties, where does this future growth come from?

As to my question ‘Who will be the next Conservative Leader?’ other than David Cameron, who else is there? – and that may be the Conservatives party 'big problem', a strong leader without a serious contender to act as a counter measure and bring balance to the party.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Welsh stalwart Brynle Williams dies

I was sad to hear that Brynle Williams, farmer and politician had lost his long battle against illness. Wales will be a poorer place without him.

Full story: BBC News
See also: Betsan's blog