Independence Index

Your in-depth guide to Welsh independence.

Assembly

The latest news, debates and reports from the Senedd. (Fourth Assembly stories are under 'Archive').

Bridgend

The major local political stories and developments from Bridgend county.

Laws

We gave AMs law-making powers; this is what's being done with them.

Committee Inquiries

Detailed scrutiny of how Wales is being run. (Fourth Assembly inquiries are under 'Archive').

Vice Nation: Sex

How could an independent Wales deal with issues surrounding sex?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Senedd/Election Watch - February 2015


  • Figures revealed to BBC Wales showed the Control of Horses Act 2014 – passed by the National Assembly as emergency legislation – has only been used by 11 of Wales' 22 local authorities to deal with stray horses. Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W & S. Pembs.) said the law needed proper funding and should be enforced by councils as a statutory responsibility.
  • The Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, Daniel Kawczynzki, called for an investigation into the impact of ambulance service delays on cross-border care, after patients were waiting for several hours outside Wrexham Maelor Hospital, which serves northern Shropshire.
  • The National Assembly's Environment Committee said the Planning Bill needed to be “more democratic” in their Stage 1 report, after concerns were raised by legal experts that some of the Bill's clauses will reduce the ability of local communities to argue against developments that could impact their lives.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Detention for Donaldson?

Is the Donaldson Review a "radical" transformation of the school curriculum?
Or just a moderate number of tweaks to the existing system?
Let's see.
(Pic : Wales Online)
Yesterday, Professor Graham Donaldson reported back on his long-awaited review of the Welsh National Curriculum. It's the most extensive review of its kind since the National Curriculum was established in 1988.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

New Law to Reform Social Care

In the wake of several scandals relating to treatment of people in care, the Regulation
and Inspection of Social Care Bill aims to tighten up professional regulation.
(Pic : nursingcarehomesincornwall.co.uk)

Yesterday, Health Minister, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West), introduced the second major piece of legislation reforming social services this Assembly term.

The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care Bill (Bill [pdf], explanatory memorandum [pdf]) outlines a number of reforms to how social care services are regulated and inspected....funnily enough. More info from the National Assembly's In Brief blog.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Ratings, Redevelopments & Rebellions

Bridgend Council Rated
Although the recent school bandings made overall good reading for Bridgend Council,
there are high levels of dissatisfaction with local services on the whole.
(Pic : Jaggery via BBC Wales)

Last week, the Welsh Government released the latest annual report (pdf) on the performance of Wales' 22 local authorities. Caebrwyn has covered where Carmarthenshire stands, while Plaid Wrecsam has highlighted areas where Wrexham Council are under-performing.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Vice Nation : Alcohol III - Booze & Independence

At its core, any Welsh alcohol policy needs to change how we drink.
(Pic : lexleader.net)
The Challenges

Alcohol policy – unless it's directly to do with public health – is currently non-devolved. Alcohol licensing is explicitly non-devolved in Schedule 7 (12) of the Government of Wales Act 2006, while alcohol taxation is also set to be retained by Westminster post-Silk. Scotland has a wider range of powers.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Vice Nation : Alcohol II - Costs & Benefits

Alcohol plays a key part of the hospitality industry, while Wales
has more than 150 brewers and distillers.
(Pic : SA Brain)

The Alcohol Industry


Alcohol remains an important part of the hospitality and manufacturing sectors. The most obvious example would be Brains, based in Cardiff – one of Wales' largest companies with a turnover of £122million in 2014. Brains, of course, isn't only a brewery but a wider hospitality company running pubs, hotels and coffee chain Coffee #1.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Vice Nation : Alcohol I - Our Drinking Culture

Does Wales have a drinking problem?
What could a Welsh alcohol policy look like?
(Pic : The Mirror)
This is the first in a series of posts – spread out like Life, Ethics & Independence (all linked here) – which looks at the....sinful....aspects of everyday life, and how that plays into Welsh independence.

I've already covered narcotics (I, II, III, IV, V, VI), and in later instalments I intend to look at things like tobacco & e-cigarettes, the sex industry (including sexual crimes and sex education), guns, fireworks, tattoos and gambling.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

National Assembly Bites the Ballot

The UK electoral system was aptly described as "steampunk" in the National Assembly
earlier this week. Could bringing it into the 21st century re-engage young people?
(Pic : laweekly.com)

Earlier this week there was another interesting Individual Members' Debate, this time on voter registration and election turnouts.

That's all the more important, as the switch from household to individual voter registration has caused serious problems in the run up to May's House of Commons election; particularly amongst students who were usually registered by their universities when moving to a hall of residence.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Major Changes to Renting Revealed

The Renting Homes Bill aims to reform and simplify the social and
private rental market in Wales, but it's not without controversy.
(Pic : Getty Images via BBC Wales)
Earlier this week, the Renting Homes Bill was introduced to the National Assembly by Communities & Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham).

The Bill follows a 2013 white paper (Renting Homes White Paper). The paper outlined changes after serious reservations were raised by the Law Commission and housing organisations, who said the current rental market is confusing. Meanwhile, many owner-occupiers were dissatisfied with renting.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Supreme Court overrules Welsh law

The UK Supreme Court has struck down a backbench Welsh law,
ruling that it fell outside the powers of the National Assembly.
(Pic : The Guardian)

I'm afraid this one's for the anoraks (also touched on by National Left).

In 2012, Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) introduced a Member's Bill called the Recovery of Medical Costs of Asbestos Diseases Bill (aka. Asbestos Disease Bill - more here). Its key proposal was for insurers
, on behalf of employers, to reimburse the Welsh NHS (via the Welsh Government) the cost of treating work-related asbestos diseases. This is potentially worth between £1-3million.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Bridgend Budget 2015-16

Bridgend Council's proposed budget for 2015-16 is to be discussed by BCBC's
cabinet tomorrow, with more than £11million outlined in cuts and savings.
(Pic : Wales Online)

It's budget season in Welsh local government. That means it's time for my annual look at what Bridgend Council (BCBC) propose in terms of cuts and capital spending both next year and for the medium-term.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Bridgend to celebrate historic merger

John John W. J. J. John William Wanklyn John
- inventor of cheese and chips, harvester of countless souls.

Bridgend Council have given the go ahead to a celebration to mark the monumental merger between cheese and chips.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Rhiw Redevelopment Plans Unveiled

After more than a year of on-off speculation, a planning application has been
submitted for a major redevelopment of the Rhiw car park.
(Pic : Holder Mathias Architects via Bridgend Council)

We've known for a while that some sort of development would take place at The Rhiw, and it was subject to a bid from Bridgend Council (BCBC) for Welsh Government Vibrant and Viable Places funding (Vibrant & Viable Bridgend?). BCBC were eventually awarded around £6million, which is significantly less than they wanted.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Local Reform for Local People

Welsh Local Government; a world of secret legalese code, unopposed
elections and jobs for life - though perhaps not for much longer.
(Pic : via Tumblr)

UPDATE : 06/02/15 - There's another take on this from someone who's had more than her fair share of run-ins with the dark side of Welsh local government - including some important points in the white paper I missed (shock, horror!) - and that's Carmarthenshire Planning.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Bridgend school "traffic lights" & Councillor leaves Labour

The first colour-coded school categorisations were released last
week, and it makes relatively good reading for Bridgend.
(Pic : South Wales Evening Post)
Last week, the Welsh Government unveiled the first school rankings using a new "traffic light" system, which replaces the old system of school bandings.