Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Voting rights for prisoners.

On Monday the European Human Rights Court in the judgment  Scoppola v. Italy said that the UK blanket ban on prisoners having a vote was illegal.

A detailed analysis of this judgment can be found in the  Head of Legal Blog.

The judgment in summary says that a blanket ban on all prisoners having voting rights is contrary to human rights legislation, but that Parliament can still decide which crimes would result in the prisoner losing their voting rights. For example say all prisoners who have been sentenced for more than 4 years.

I did post on this subject last year - Voting rights for prisoners.

In my humble opinion a fundamental human right is the right to vote and to participate in the democratic process, which before someone looses such rights they need to have committed a serious crime.

Of course, whilst Parliament can decide what level of sentence would be serious enough for someone to loose their fundamental right to vote, quite clearly it should be for the courts to decide whether such decisions infringe the fundamental human rights of us all, be that national or international law.

Sir Winston Churchill recongnised this fact when back in 1949 he was a founder member of the Council of Europe, which in 1950 agreed the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The UK was one of the original countries to sign, with the convention coming into force in the UK in September 1953. The European Court of Human Rights was part of the convention.

I have posted on this subject before - A bit more Abu Qatada & human rights.

How times have changed, and I was sad to read that the current Prime Minister; with it seems an eye on headlines in the tabloid press, on Wednesday and as reported by  BBC News [...] told MPs he will resist a European court ruling that prisoners should be given the right to vote in UK elections. David Cameron said the ban on voting from jail "should be a matter for Parliament... and not a foreign court".'

We can't really decide to ignore rulings from an internationally recongnised court; of which we were a founding member, and expect others to comply, especially on fundamental human rights, nor in doing so should we lecture others on the need to comply either.

We have six months to grow up and amend our laws.

How we elect Welsh Assembly members

On Monday the Welsh Office published their 'Green Paper on future electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales'.

In the first place let's deal with what I think are the no controversial aspects of the Green Paper:

The proposal to increase the fixed term of the Assembly from 4 to 5 years, dual candidacy, Multiple mandates (or the 'Alun Cairns Question') to be prohibited.

Which leaves the question of how we elect Assembly Members?

This is something I did post about last year see How we elect assembly members.

In the green paper there are two options: keep the status quo of 40:20 or change the balance to 30:30.

In the first place I'm not sure that it's totally necessary for the wards of assembly members to mirror those of parliament. But if we say that it may be desirable, my preference would be 2 member STV based on the Westminster constituencies, as I believe it would be better to vote for named individuals rather than the use of regional lists where you vote for a party and where an AM is expected to represent a very large area.

Other options where also looked at by the Electoral Reform Society in 2010 in a publication called ‘Reduce and Equalise’ and the Governance of Wales

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The 'Olympic Flame' and those 'special containers'

Don't you love the hype which surrounds the 'Olympic Games'. I'm sure we are all really really really exited now that the 'Olympic Flame' has finally touched down in the UK.

The flame was carried in a special plane; to an airport that 'had been preparing for six months for its arrival, in special containers, in special seats, by special people, as the BBC said it was a special occasion -specials all round then.

There are four flames just in case - maybe they are numbered The Flame, Standby Flame 1, Standby Flame 2 etc, though as the flame seems to be a living thing, could Stanby Flame 4 be most upset? - "I'll never get a chance to show off my brilliant flame" it said.

Maybe they are given turns - "OK flame 3 it's your big day, today you are the Olympic Flame - were just passing through Swansea.....Oh no its gone out."

Any hows returning to the 'special containers' they would be Davy Lamps, a version of which is shown above, and the following is an extract from  Wikeipdia:

The Davy lamp is a safety lamp for use in flammable atmospheres, consisting of a wick lamp with the flame enclosed inside a mesh screen. It was invented in 1815[..] by Sir Humphry Davy....

 The modern day equivalent of the Davy is the Protector Garforth GR6S flame safety lamp which is used for firedamp testing in all UK coal mines. A modified version of this lamp is used to transport the Olympic Flame for the torch relays. They were used for the Sydney, Athens, Turin, Beijing, Vancouver and Singapore Youth Olympic Games relays. They were also used for the Special Olympics Shanghai, Pan American and Central African Games relays. They will also be used for the London 2012 relay. The lamps are still made in Eccles.

The manufacturer of the London 2012 Olympic 'Davy Lamps' are  Protector Lamps from Eccles.

Updated 21/05/2012 - Web address of Protector Lamps added, and some text deleted.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Marine Conservation Zones

The Welsh Government is currently consulting on 10 potential sites as options for further consideration as highly protected marine conservation zones, on the basis that the Welsh Government intends to designate no more than 3-4 sites....This consultation is the first in an iterative process consisting of 3 consultation phases.

You can download the consultation document from the Welsh Government's website.

On Ynys Môn there are two potential sites - Puffin Island and a section of the shoreline on the North East of Menai Strait.

Within the potential highly protected marine conservations zones, there will be strict conditions attached which the consultation explains:

The best way of achieving this is to afford the sites a high level of protection where they are protected from the extraction and deposition of living and non-living resources plus all other damaging or disturbing activities to support as natural an ecological state as possible.

 Extractive, depositional, damaging and disturbing activities have been defined in the site selection guidance [..] as follows:

  • An extractive activity is defined as an act that involves the temporary or permanent removal or attempted removal, of any living organism or non-living material or natural feature from the marine environment. An exemption to this is the removal of man-made litter.
  • A depositional activity is defined as an act that involves the laying down, movement or discharge of living or non-living materials or substance into the marine environment. This includes deposit of materials such as rocks, gravel or sand, building of structures, and the release of any polluting or toxic or chemical substances, as well as the discharge of ballast, untreated human waste, biodegradable and industrial waste and the discard of fish offal and by catch.
  • A damaging activity is defined as an act that potentially results in permanent or temporary physical harm or injury to species, or cause permanent or temporary alteration to natural features within the marine environment. Physical damage would count as something which reduces an organism’s ability to operate in a natural.
With such strict conditions there are concerns that the potential highly protected marine zones could harm the legitimate businesses of some people and/or the leisure activities of others with consequential damage to the tourist trade.

The Daily Post on Thursday had a report on 'Coastal communities up in arms over planned marine zones'.

As part of the first stage of the consultation the Welsh Government is collecting evidence from those likely to be affected by any potential marine conservation zone.

For example for the potential zone at Puffin Island they ask

Do you currently use or enjoy or plan to use or enjoy the sea or coast within or near this site?

If so tell us:

Where exactly?

What activity or pastime are you involved in?

How often do you do the activity or enjoy the pastime?

How important is the activity or pastime to you?

Therefore if you are concerned that any of the potential sites may unduly affect your livelihood and/or enjoyment of the natural environment it's important that you let the Welsh Government know. You can download a consultation response form (in word format) from the Welsh Governments  website

The consultation closes on 31 July 2012.

Please note: words in italics are extracts from the Welsh Government's Consultation Document.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ynys Môn and GVA

The Daily Post in a report on Wednesday -  Wylfa B not derailed by power giant pull-out said:

[The pull out by RWE and E.on from investing in nuclear in the UK]....started a scramble to find a new consortium to bail out the development, seen as vital for a county which has the lowest GDP in England and Wales....

In the first place the preferred measure for regions is GVA, in particular GVA per head, and we know from the last issued  GVA figures for regions; from December 2011, that Ynys Môn does not have the lowest GVA per head of population in England and Wales, that would the Gwent Valleys at £10,654.

Which was something I did post about at the time see:  Ynys Môn GVA per head revised figures.

More than just words

The blog 'inside out' in a post called 'Language of priorities' mentions an article in the Western Mail and the British Medical Associations response to the Welsh Government's proposed framework ‘More Than Just Words’.

Apparently the BMA think: “The time, and financial situation, is not right for imposing language duties on NHS organisations aiming to deliver world-class healthcare, but which in reality are many light-years away from that.”

Blog Menai also has a post on this subject.

Now I'm not sure what planet the BMA live on, but I've chosen to ignore their views, especially when reported via a third party being in this case the Western Mail.

What's far more important is the Welsh Governments proposed framework and the needs of welsh speaking patients.

To quote from the executive summary :

The Welsh Government is committed to delivering high quality health, social services and social care services that are centred on user’s needs. Our vision is to provide a service that will satisfy the needs of Welsh speakers and their families or carers, by ensuring they are able to receive services in their own language through the care process....

Many service users are very vulnerable, so placing a responsibility on them to ask for services through the medium of Welsh is unfair.

In other words when someone is ill; especially the elderly, they are vulnerable and afraid - and you would expect as a fundamental right that their basic needs be protected, including I would most strongly argue the right to be spoken to in their native language.

The executive summary quotes the experience of a patient whom says "Many of the staff had no idea about the need to understand the emotional needs of a Welsh speaking patient who was confused"

To me it's straight forward a welsh speaking patient shouldn't need to ask for a welsh service, it should be offered to them as a matter of course. Not that everyone in the health service in Wales needs to speak welsh, but for example in the absence of a relative or career a hospital based welsh speaking companion would assist greatly by reducing the worry and confusion of the ill patient.

The consultation on the 'Strategic Framework for Welsh Language Services in Health, Social Services and Social Care' which is now closed can currently be viewed on the  Welsh Government website.

As I said the framework is called 'more than just words', sadly it seems the BMA think language is not an aid to recovery, and as such what they say to me are just words. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Britannia Bridge and active traffic managment.

On Monday I crossed Britannia Bridge on my annual trip into the heart of Gwynedd.  Now, we are told that  Britannia Bridge cannot cope with peak traffic flows and that a second crossing is needed,  which some claim was to be  funded by 'Wylfa B'. You know that magical funding pot that politicians on Anglesey have been praying was the answer for all the islands problems.

Take the A5025 which is slowly falling to bits, don't worry was the answer  - 'Wylfa B' will pay for all the improvements. My advice take care, as many lengths of the A5025 are in desperate need of resurfacing, due to low skid resistance -  you will notice far more 'slippery road' warning signs up these days.

Or when schools need to cut back on staff as there was not enough children coming to the school, some Councillors suggested we should wait as Wylfa B would bring many families into the island and their children would need to be educated.

A stock answer it seems - don't worry 'Wylfa B' will pay for it.

But 'Wylfa B' will not now happen for many years, and if there is no 'public subsidy' to guarantee electricity  prices to make investors money may never happen.

Therefore, with poor odds of 'Wylfa B'  ever being built, you might as well as forget about a second crossing. I wouldn't think it carries enough traffic to attract other private investors, and we have no public money, so we are told.

Which brings me back to my trip to Gwynedd this morning.  Williams Hughes Civil Engineering were carrying out essential works on the approach to the bridge, and for the safety of its workers had a 30 mph speed limit in place -  the result when I went past no queues.

Which supports my view that what we require on both of the approaches to Britannia Bridge are variable speed limits and active traffic management as trialled on the  M42. This together with enforced average speed limits would in my opinion significantly reduce occurrences of peak hour queuing on the bridge.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Mr Sargeant - please don't forget the public.

In September,  Councillors of Ynys Môn Council may be given back the key to the executive chamber, and over a phased time period have power returned to them. You can read a transcript of Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities statement in  Paul Williams Druids Revenge blog.

Carl Sargeant, the Commissioners and the Audit Commission whilst not totally convinced that the problems of past "misbehavior, under-performance and petty squabbling" would not return, have concluded "there are no longer any serious risks."

I suspect though that the ratepayers of Ynys Môn will be far less optimistic as to the likelihood of good behavior continuing within the ranks of the islands Councillors.

And that in once sense is a problem with this process, is a feeling that nobody has really bothered to ask the ratepayers what they thought, what they wanted. Nor has anyone; it seems, asked how can we bring the ratepayers back on board and interested in the real issues that affect the island, and how through the democratic process can their concerns can be satisfactorily addressed.

Don't get me wrong in many ways a lot has been achieved since the Commissioners have been 'running the council' on behalf of Carl Sargeant. Procedures have been updated to improve the governance of the Council, and steps have been taken to ensure that the Council has in place a strong management team, which is something the Audit Commission has long identified as a weakness.

Then there is the decision of Carl Sargeant to change the island election boundaries for councillors to multi member wards, similar to what occurs in Scotland. I think it's a very good idea, and would urge Carl Sargeant, if he can to go further and adopt  Single Transferable Vote (STV) as a method of electing Councillors, again as they do in Scotland.

I would urge also the main political parties on the island to set aside their differences and work together on how they can encourage greater participation in the politics of the island. I seem to recall that there where moves made last year to this end, but have read little about it since.

I also read somewhere that there was a growing call within the Conservative Party to look at how candidates where selected, and whether the process could be widened so that a greater; shall we say, diversity of candidates be put forward, and not from a narrow pool of what may be portrayed as stereotypically candidates from any of the main political parties.

In terms of multi member wards one concern as expressed by Paul Williams is that it will make it harder for independent councillors to be elected, due to the size of the wards and lack of resources by independent candidates to canvass such wards. Can I make a suggestion that as part of the election process the Council could send out to all ratepayers a leaflet saying whom is standing in their ward, within which each candidate would be allowed; within limits, an opportunity to spell out why they should be elected as Councillor for that ward.

Which brings me neatly onto independent councillors, and a commonly asked question - Are independent councillors really Conservatives in disguise?

Interestingly the Political Studies Association in April also asked that question in respect of Councillors in England, and you can read their working draft by following this link - Independent Councillors.

Which sort of, in conclusion to the question -Are independent councillors really Conservatives in disguise? says  - No, but lots of them are.

Now there are many reasons why you would stand as a independent councillor - you may not have a great allegiance with any of the main political parties, or although you may support a political party you may have fallen out with the local party on a specific issue, or you may have been excluded from standing in the name of the local party for various reasons.

Of course one of the problems you have with independent councillors is in the most a lack of a manifesto, from which they can claim a mandate or on which the electorate can judge whether they have kept promises made.

There is also a lack of party discipline and or support, not that this means no good independent Councillors exist. But if you do have allegiances if not with the main political parties, maybe you should follow the lead of Llais Gwynedd, who formed their own party rather than some confusing case of being independent but yet being part of a group of Councillors with similar views and not therefore strictly speaking independent at all.

As to whether following next years council elections the long term future of Ynys Môn Council is secure may be academic, as I have said before there are far too many Council in Wales, and when the time is right a merger with Gwynedd and possibly Conwy is definitely on the political horizon. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Conservatives of Gwynedd, are no more - they are a dead parrott.

In the recent elections for Gwynedd County Council, Plaid Cymru came within a whisker of becoming the ruling party - which means that they will now need to enter into a coalition with one of the other parties, or gain support from a few independent councillors.

However, the coalition talks won't include the Welsh Conservatives, because in terms of election results they do not exist within Gwynedd.

The three brave individuals whom did stand under the Welsh Conservative banner didn't do that well, they where:

Martin Anthony Peet in the Pentir ward, gained 60 votes.
Bronwen Naish in the Criccieth ward, gained 98 votes.
Robert Edward Hawkes in the Tywyn ward, gained 247 votes.

And all of them came last in their respective wards.

So in Gwynedd where the electorate in March 2011 was 85,540 (see The Electoral Commission) the Welsh Conservatives only managed a total of 405 votes or less than 1% (0.4735% to be precise).

Of course some true 'conservatives' could be hiding under the banner of independents, but that surely would be 'political cowardice'.

Visit Wales and walk around Anglesey.

Picture RSPB South Stack

It's official Wales is one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2012. This week the world's first coastal path to cover an entire country has been officially opened in Wales.

Stretching from the mouth of the River Dee in Flintshire in the north to Chepstow in south, the Wales Coast Path covers 870 miles (1,400km). The network also links into the Offa's Dyke Path - creating a 1,030 mile (1660km) route around the whole of Wales.

Lonely Planet's Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012 has Coastal Wales as their number one region to visit.

And this is what they had to say about Coastal Wales:

"What a wonderful thing: to walk the entire length of a country’s coastline, to trace its every nook, cranny, cliff-face, indent and estuary. How better to truly appreciate the shape – and soul – of a nation?" Read more...

So if you do fancy a break from the hectic 24/7 modern world, to relax and enjoy the idyllic welsh coastline in relative peace why not visit Anglesey.

To find out more about the coastal path around Ynys Môn - Anglesey please visit the following websites:

Visit Anglesey - Coastal Path
Friends of Anglesey Coastal Path

One of the highlights amongst many on the Coastal Path is the RSPB Nature Reserve at South Stack.

The coastal path also caters for sport enthusiasts i.e it forms part of a series of coastal marathons see  endurancelife - Coastal series Anglesey.

See aslo:

Anglesey Walking Holidays - an award winning company and local experts in offering customers a tailor-made holiday on the Anglesey Coast Path.

Celticos for guided themed and nature walks, craft & hobby courses in Snowdonia and Anglesey.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Local jobs for local people?

A report in the Daily Post on Saturday - Meeting over Anglesey Council contracts row said "A COUNCIL mired in a row after an English firm was awarded the grass cutting contract for its schools could now see its executive study every tender before they are given out...."

...The motion resolved that the executive should look at every aspect of the tendering process in the future and consider “legitimate” means to help local firms tender."

Now I'm sure most of us would want our local council to help local businesses be competitive, grow and be successful. And the Council can help in many forms - assistance in applying for grants, business advice,starter units for new businesses etc...

But what they can't do is give an advantage or be perceived to give an advantage to local businesses in the tender process for public contracts. The Council spokesperson is right, the Council has to comply with European treaties and conventions.

In particular Article 101 of Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):

1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:

...(e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2006 incorporates this European legislation into British law.

Of course if there was legitimate means of giving an advantage to local businesses, don't you think some other Council would not have done so already?

But there is not.....and imagine the reaction if say an English Council awarded a contract to a local company even though a Welsh company tender price was lower.

And I agree with Cllr Peter Rogers who said to the Daily Post - "We need to make Anglesey companies competitive so they can bid for these contracts and also go to other areas and bid for work.

“We can't do this by stopping competition. We can't have councillors meddling in every contract.”

Returning to the report in the Daily Post and the "row after an English firm was awarded the grass cutting contract", let me finish with something I hope is quite obvious which is Article 18 of TFEU:

Within the scope of application of the Treaties, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The former Cllr Calver and human rights.

The Telegraph - (Politicians should have thick skins judge rules in bitchy councillor case) reported on Friday that a judicial review had set aside the decision of the Adjudication Panel for Wales, against an appeal by Mr Calver and former Pembrokeshire County Council Councillor for the Manorbier ward.

I say former County Councillor, for on Thursday he lost his seat on Pembrokeshire County Council.

But back to the judicial review, in brief this is what occurred before:

Mr Calver a Community Councillor for Manorbier had fallen out with fellow Community Councillors over various matters. Whilst investing a claim of a breach of the Code of Conduct made against Mr Hughes another Community Councillor, the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales 'became aware' of a website written by Mr Calver.

The Ombudsman decided to investigate whether comments made by Mr Calver on his website where in breach of the Code of Conduct, which require members to "show respect and consideration for others", and not to "conduct [themselves] in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing [their] office or authority into disrepute".

The Ombudsman decided that there was case to be answered and referred the matter to Pembrokeshire County Council's Standards Committee, whom found that Mr Calver had been in breach of the code of conduct. It censured him and required him to attend a training session with the Council's Monitoring Officer.

Mr Calver appealed to the Adjudication Panel for Wales on various grounds, but the Panel upheld the decision of the Standards Committee. Mr Calver then sought a judicial review of the decision taken by the Panel. And it is the decision of the Panel that Mr Justice Beatson has set aside.

For the full judgment see Calver vs The Adjudication Panel for Wales

Mr Justice Beaston concluded that whilst the Standards Committee and the Panel were right to conclude that in a narrow sense Mr Calver; in his role of Community Councillor, had been in breach of the code of conduct, "the censure was a disproportionate interference with the claimant's rights under Article 10 of the Convention." (para 84)

In other words political expression attracts an enhanced level of protection under Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention.

Article 10

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

Which means for example in robust political debate, language that would otherwise have been considered offensive is protected by Article 10.  Lord Justice Hoffman (see para 56) stated that "surprising as it may perhaps appear to some, the right of freedom of speech does extend to abuse".

Lord Justice Hoffman also observed in R v Central Television Plc [1994] 3 All ER 641 at para 652:-

"Freedom means … the right to say things which 'right-thinking people' regard as dangerous or irresponsible. This freedom is subject only to clearly defined exceptions laid down by common law or statute … It cannot be too strongly emphasised that outside the established exceptions … there is no question of balancing freedom of speech against other interests. It is a trump card which always wins."

Or as stated by Mr Justice Collins in Livingstone v Adjudication Panel for England [2006] EWHC 2533 (Admin) para 39 :-

"However offensive and undeserving of protection the appellant's outburst may have appeared to some, it is important that any individual knows that he can say what he likes, provided it is not unlawful, unless there are clear and satisfactory reasons within the terms of Article 10(2) to render him liable to sanctions."

Or as Voltaire said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course the mere fact that outside established exceptions you may have the freedom to say things which 'right-thinking people' regard as dangerous or irresponsible is not something we as a general rule should condone in a society of decent people. And you would hope that those seeking public office would in the most lead by example, not that we expect them to be beyond reproach at all times.

In Mr Calver case in my opinion (for what it's worth) the comments that he made on his blog and referred to in the above judicial review weren't that particularly offensive. But as to whether Mr Calver was wise to make them is another matter.  As others have quite rightly pointed out to me, when you have a valid point or concern to raise, the use of  offensive or poor  language to mock or  belittle someone else weakens the argument you are trying to make.

And finally as Mr Calver found out in any event the final trump card as to the election of a Councillor lays not in the courts but in the hands of the electorate.

Which is why I think we need to find ways to ensure that on all occasions the electorate are given a choice, and that we should avoid Councillors elected unopposed and without a mandate.

P.S Mr Calver remains a Community Councillor for Manorbier Community Council as he and others standing for election to the Manorbier Community Council were elected unopposed.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Are we heading for a long recession?

For the last two quarters the UK has seen negative growth which means 'technically' we are in recession. We know there is a broad agreement that the UK's economy has in the past been over reliant on the service sector, and that re-balancing was required, with greater emphasis being placed on manufacturing.

I have argued before that with consumer debt still high, and consumer confidence low, it was unlikely that we would see consumer driven growth for the foreseeable future. And with the announcement that most banks are likely to increase interest rates on mortgages, disposable incomes are likely to fall further. (see Sky News.)

Therefore, a sustained growth in exports was seen as important if the UK's economy was to improve. However the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI® published Tuesday says that whilst in April there was a slight growth in the manufacturing sector for the 5th consecutive month, the rate of increase has slowed, one factor being:

"Total new order books fell slightly for the first time in five months in April. This mainly reflected a sharp drop in new export business – the steepest since May 2009 – resulting from weaker demand from mainland Europe, the US and East Asia. There were also reports of tough market conditions and strong competition."

What is of concern is that whilst we know that growth in the Eurozone was likely to contract; with Spain the latest of the Southern EU countries facing a economic crisis, is the fact that growth in the USA and East Asia is also weaker than hoped.

Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Manufacturing PMI® said:

“The UK recovery was always likely to be bumpy and subdued. This is still very much the case at manufacturers, with the April PMI indicating that growth of the sector eased to its weakest in the year-to-date. Although the expansion in output is a positive in itself, as is a modest increase in employment, manufacturers are still sustaining growth through past demand, a circumstance that can not continue indefinitely.

“What manufacturers really need to see is a marked improvement in new order inflows, so April’s sudden sharp drop in new export orders was a real disappointment. It seems that weaknesses in our major trading partner, the Eurozone, are starting to hit home, especially for consumer goods producers. This further highlights the impact of ongoing weakness in the European household sector already signalled by Markit’s UK Household Finance Index and the Eurozone Retail PMIs.”

See also: Reuters - UK at risk of longer slump as euro crisis hits factories.