Friday, June 02, 2006

5000 say no...the end of apathy?

Plaid in Central North Wales (Aberconwy, Clwyd West and Vale of Clwyd) have been running a petition against the proposed hospital closures and service reductions proposed by the Secondary Care Review. So far we have 5000 signatures with more arriving daily.

Not difficult you might think. A few hours harassing people in the street or going door to door will soon get the numbers up. Except that's not the approach we have taken. Cllr Gareth Jones in Aberconwy, myself in Vale of Clwyd and Phil Edwards in Clwyd West have delivered 1000s of leaflets door to door with petition slips on them for people to return. People have to read the leaflet cut out the slip and send it back to us. Phil Edwards put an advert in a local paper also using a "send back slip".

For so many people to go to such lengths is incredible. Shop keepers have volunteered to have petitions in their premises, I have sent copies of a petition to everyone returning the slip on the leaflet and dozens of people are collecting more names.

There is always talk of political apathy and claims people have no interest in what affects them. This is utter non-sense. When a political party campaigns on issues that affect the public then the public are happy to join in and lend a hand.

Interestingly the public are quick to see that these proposed service reductions are the product of Labour(and previously Lib dem) policies in Cardiff. Labour are in for a hard time in next years Assembly elections in North Wales.

The bed tax the Tories and the fib dems.....

A proposal from the Local Government Association to allow local authorites to tax tourists for staying overnight has generated quite a few comments in the national press. North Wales is dependent on the Tourist Trade for what few jobs remain and this additional tax would help kill off that trade once and for all.

A Tory MP from North Wales is quoted as opposing this proposal in the local press, oddly he forgot to mention that the Local Government association is dominated by Conservatives!Given this idea is coming from a Tory organisation we can expect Tony and Gordon to back it with enthusiasm.

However glancing through a few blogs I noticed an interesting article on Ian Dales blog. The ever amusing Mr Dale has pointed out that a Tourist tax is Lib Dem policy but their national spokeman is campaigning against his own party policy. No change there then.

Chatsworth House...good news coming...?

After the remarkably stupid decision by Denbighshire Local Health Board to propose closure of Chatsworth House (Prestatyn Community Hospital)I wrote to Health Minister Brian Gibbons with a formal objection to the consultation process. He is yet to reply. However he has now held a meeting with the local protest group after previously refusing to meet with them. Its reported that the meeting went well.

Given the current political climate it seems Labour have realised they are certain to lose the Vale of Clwyd if this issue is not resolved. In the next few weeks I expect one of the following things to happen.

1. The Minister to order a new consultation process due to flaws in the previous one. The process to conclude after the elections next year.
2. New money mysteriously appears allowing the hospital to stay open for at least eighteen months
3. An announcement is made that savings from the Secondary Care Review, that have been earmarked for primary Care, will be used to keep the Hospital Open.

Of the three options the third is most likely. This means we can keep Chatsworth House if we are prepared to lose 400 other hospital beds in North Wales, close and downgrade other hospitals a few years after spending a small fortune on them and centralise services on three sites.

What is actually needed is a government that will take an axe to the absurd 22 Local Health Boards and the various other health bodies that are unfit for purpose. We only have 11 months to wait.