Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Plas Madoc: A drop in the ocean could save our leisure centre

Let's see a tidal wave of protest against this council

Wrexham's Labour-run council used to lose £450,000 a year on Plas Madoc Leisure Centre so, back in March 2014, they voted to close it.

This was in the face of a huge local campaign to save this popular service. As a result, the local community came together and eventually re-opened it as a cooperative on a shoestring in December 2014.

The cooperative is now asking for £50,000 a year from the same council to keep it going. Sounds like a good deal for the council you'd think... the same service at a fraction of the price.

And remember that this is a council that spends:

• £2.1m on consultants who tell them how to save money (I'm not making this up)
• £1.6m on new paving and lighting for King Street, where the disruption led to many shops closing
• £138,000 each year on the mayor
• £100,000 each year in extra payments to councillors
• £31,000 on replacing councillors' old iPads

That gives you an idea of how £50,000 is just a drop in the ocean for a council with a £200m annual budget.

Yet they are willing to risk closing a much-loved leisure centre that attracts 400,000 each year and plays an important part in promoting health and well-being in the county.

After months of delay, a final decision will be made at the council's Executive Board on 13th December. If the Executive Board fails to provide funding for Plas Madoc, it will close in January. Jobs will be lost, leisure services will be lost... all for the cost of keeping a mayor.

A refusal to fund the leisure centre will also mean a £500,000 grant from the Welsh Government to make essential repairs and maintenance will be lost. Again, only an idiot would turn their backs on such funding for such a small outlay. But it seems we are being run by a committee of idiots.

One final thought: Labour politicians have been vocal in their condemnation of the council's refusal to fund Plas Madoc Leisure Centre. These same politicians were silent when their fellow Labour councillors were voting to close the centre. The excuse then was "we've got to make cuts, we've got no options". The excuses are still the same now - so what's changed? Apart from the fact that half the Labour group has jumped ship and become independent... Nothing has changed.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Council shafts People's Market traders in u-turn

Plaid Cymru says: Stop wrecking Wrexham

Despite repeated assurances by this failing Wrexham Council, the People’s Market will close while construction takes place on converting the building into an Arts and Cultural Hub. It's a spectacular and embarrassing U-turn on previous assurances to traders and the public that work and trade would take place simultaneously.

Isobel Garner, Project Manager for the ‘regeneration of the People’s Market/Oriel Wrecsam’ (aka the Arts Hub conversion) was asked the direct question as to whether the People’s Market is closing after a lively discussion in the Town Centre Forum meeting this evening.

Ms Garner clarified that the frontage shops outside, car park and the ‘corridor’ areas would remain open, but the market hall would be closed for work with no traders remaining.

This completely contradicts previous promises that building work would continue alongside trading.
Any food and his dog knew that this was unrealistic to say the least and it has caused huge concerns among the traders.

Marc Jones, speaking for Plaid Cymru locally, said: 
"I know of at least one trader that won't be returning to the People's Market because of the disruption and uncertainty. Let's hope there aren't more.
 "This council is wrecking Wrexham - whether it's our markets, our historic buildings, our green fields that they want to concrete over or important public services like Plas Madoc. At every turn, this Tory/Independent coalition is wrecking our area and people should remember that when they turn out to vote next May in the council elections." 

‘Don’t repeat shambles on the buses’ plea as company licence revoked

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, has appealed to the Welsh Government and Wrexham Council to avoid a similar shambles on the buses.

The challenge comes after two companies operating buses in the Wrexham area – including the 146 service from Whitchurch via Penley to Wrexham – had their licence revoked by the Traffic Commissioner.

Mr Gruffydd made his plea to the Welsh Government minister in the Senedd this afternoon.
He said:
  “The decision yesterday to revoke the licences would not have been a surprise given the history surrounding GHA Coaches. That could have been foreseen. Therefore I’d like to know what steps the Government, together with Wrexham Council, is taking to ensure that bus users don’t suffer a repeat of the shambles we saw over the summer. Bus users have been told the service will end on December 19 and that a replacement services will be tendered for – this can take weeks or even months. 
 "What will be done to ensure there are temporary services in place to ensure passengers can get to work, to college, to school and visit hospitals and other appointments? Will the Welsh Government work with the council to ensure that?”

Mr Gruffydd also questioned how new routes were allocated to directors who had been running the failed GHA Coaches: 
“The council has questions to answer in terms of due diligence – surely there are background checks done on companies and directors tendering for work? All this uncertainty could have been avoided if those checks had been done.”

 It emerges that the new contract will not begin until April 1st 2017, leaving passengers potentially stranded for another three months.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Dee Valley: Only a pawn in their game?

The hostile takeover bid of Dee Valley Water by Severn Trent will cost jobs and hurt the wider local economy. That much is clear.

But to what extent is Dee Valley Water just a pawn in a far bigger game? Plaid Wrecsam has already highlighted Severn Trent's longer-term intentions, which are now becoming clearer.

ST is proposing to combine its water resource zone in Powys with the Wrexham water resource zone, to create its ‘Welsh’ business.

However, the company's Powys region is believed to be one of its most expensive areas to serve and that it uses cross subsidies to enable those costs to be spread across ST's whole supply area, thereby keeping bills consistent across all its customers. 

But, if ST took over DVW over and brought its Powys region under a distinctive Welsh licence, these costs would be spread across a much smaller customer base and there is therefore the potential for bills to rise, not only in Powys but across Dee Valley Water’s current Welsh customer base. 

Staff at Dee Valley are asking: "Has any consideration been given to this matter and has Severn Trent been challenged on this?"

It is clear that there is no immediate financial benefit from paying such a high premium for DVW.

The growing suspicion, therefore, is that this is a politically motivated move.

We have learned that ST's bosses came to talk with DVW staff a couple of weeks ago. The chief executive Liv Garfield said that buying Dee Valley Water would give ST a ‘place at the table’ in relation to Welsh Government policy. 

A strange use of words because ST already has a place on the Welsh Government’s Wales Water Forum, although it hasn’t been as engaged in the process as DVW and Welsh Water of course.

The Wales Act is likely to transfer more power over water to the Welsh Government, something the Government of Wales Act of 2006 under Peter Hain's guidance significantly omitted.

The concern of many is that ST is using Dee Valley Water as a pawn to gain more influence over the Welsh Government, to safeguard its very favourable current arrangements (see below) in relation to Welsh water resources and potentially seek to exploit these further for use across the border in England. 

This is something Plaid Cymru MPs have long highlighted.

Following the publication of Water UK’s report on long-term resilience in the water industry, Ofwat has started to encourage water companies to consider some of the possible solutions highlighted in this report. One of those identified for ST was the possibility of moving water via the Dee, into its area – buying DVW would obviously make it easier to do this. 

This looks like Part 2 of Severn Trent's theft of water in Wales - please read on for the first part of that theft.

Severn Trent's water robbery of Wales (Part 1)

In 1984 the Thatcher government imposed a contract upon Welsh Water compelling it to sell water to Severn Trent Water Authority (both were then in public ownership). This was an acknowledgement that Wales had a right to expect payment for water it exports to England. However the terms of contract were outrageously favourable to Severn Trent and can only be described as a steal.
 The contract states that Welsh Water must supply Severn Trent with up to 360 million litres (80 million gallons) of water daily for cost price (see below for the terms written into the privatisation of Severn Trent Water in 1990). 
 It is alleged but unconfirmed that the cost is 3 pence PER TONNE (the equivalent of 73 GALLONS FOR 1 PENNY) 
 This contract runs until March 31 2073 but the contract also has a written-in clause for a renewal option for another 99 years. This daylight robbery plunder must be re-negotiated to ensure that Welsh water is able to charge a fair rate for its water. 

Dwr Cymru 
Agreements for the import of water from the Elan Valley Reservoirs provide for Dwr Cymru to supply water from the Elan Valley Reservoirs to Severn Trent Water for 99 years (with an option for Severn Trent Water to renew the supply agreement prior to 31st March, 2073), at an annual charge which varies from year to year by reference to the average of the water supply unit costs of the two companies. The amount of water supplied shall, save in certain circumstances, be as required by Severn Trent Water, but shall not exceed approximately 360 Ml/d. 
 Dwr Cymru are responsible for, and bear the cost of, maintaining, operating and renewing the reservoirs and the abstraction of water. The supply agreement can be renegotiated at an earlier date in certain circumstances, with provision for the terms of the new arrangement to be determined by third parties in the absence of agreement. The agreements also provide for the sale by Dwr Cymru to Severn Trent Water of the Elan Valley aqueduct and connected land and buildings including the treatment plant (the "Elan Valley Assets") at a consideration of £31.7 million. 
 Completion of the sale is deferred until the earlier of 31st March, 2073 and the expiration of 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the issue of the late King George V (whether children or more remote) actually born before the date of his death. 
The consideration is held by trustees upon terms which entitle Dwr Cymru to the income and, in certain circumstances, portions of the capital. During the term of the contract of sale, Severn Trent Water is entitled as licensee to possession and control of the Elan Valley Assets and the benefit of any income from them.
 Severn Trent Water is also obliged to operate and maintain them and meet all costs and liabilities relating thereto.
 Dwr Cymru is entitled for a consideration to take water from the aqueduct to supply certain areas in its own Water Region. If the contract of sale is completed, Dwr Cymru will become entitled to the trust fund absolutely. If the supply agreement becomes subject to renegotiation (including in circumstances where Severn Trent Water gives notice that it intends to renew the agreement for a further 99 years) the contract of sale lapses, save for certain specified provisions in the contract which continue while negotiations are carried out. 
 These provisions include the right of Severn Trent Water to possession and control of the Elan Valley Assets, the right and benefit of any income therefrom, and the obligations of Severn Trent Water to operate and maintain those assets and meet all costs and liabilities relating thereto. As with the supply agreement, the terms of the new contract for sale may be imposed by a third party if Severn Trent Water and Dwr Cymru cannot reach agreement with respect to the arrangements for the use, occupation or ownership of the Elan Valley Assets. During the period that the contract of sale is being so renegotiated, the trustees hold the trust fund for Severn Trent Water absolutely.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Historic child sex abuse investigation in North Wales

In the wake of North Wales Police becoming involved in investigating historic child abuse allegations in sports clubs, Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:

“We must have complete transparency in any investigation into historic child sex abuse allegations in North Wales. Those investigations should be comprehensive and thorough to ensure that any victims have the confidence to come forward.
“It also reminds us of the need to continually strengthen advocacy services for children and young people in Wales. The Waterhouse inquiry back in 2000 highlighted how children had not been believed or listened to.
“Since then we have seen a succession of reports from Assembly committees and previous Children’s Comissioners raising concerns about the lack of advocacy services in Wales.
“The realisation of a national approach to statutory advocacy services is long overdue. It’s unacceptable that 16 years after the Waterhouse inquiry we’re still waiting and cases such as this should remind us all that whatever the practical challenges ensuring children have the support to speak out is paramount.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Delight as Groves school building saved from the bulldozers


Plaid Cymru's Wrexham spokesperson has welcomed news that The Groves school building has been listed and safeguarded from demolition.

Carrie Harper said:

"I'm delighted the campaign to see this building used for education has finally won the day, in the face of a council that's failed in so many ways.
"It's failed to outline a vision for the future of the site; it's failed in terms of stopping Coleg Cambria from developing the building as a modern educational setting and it's completely failed to explain what it wants to do with the site - even if the building had been demolished.
"People rightly feared that the site was being prepared for a sell-off for yet more housing because there's so much distrust of the council's motives.
"Now the building is staying, let's see an agreement by all to work together to ensure we have a site of educational excellence in the town as soon as is possible."

First Minister fails to back full investigation into Dee Valley Water takeover bid

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, has expressed disappointment after the First Minister failed to back his call for a full investigation into the future of Dee Valley Water.

The Wrexham-based company is facing a hostile takeover bid by Severn Trent Water, which could see the 150-year-old company disappear with the loss of jobs, local suppliers and the quality of service for customers.

Mr Gruffydd asked whether the First Minister would back a Competition and Markets Authority Phase 2 investigation that would look into the implications of such a takeover.

Speaking after First Minister Questions, Mr Gruffydd said: 
“This is a critical time for the future of Dee Valley Water. We need a united front from politicians of all colours to back the workforce and customers to ensure we maintain jobs, services and the quality of service that Dee Valley provides. That was why I pressed the First Minister to back calls for a full investigation but I was disappointed to hear him duck the issue.  
“There are wider issues at stake here that could impact on the entire Welsh water industry. I’d expect the First Minister to provide a far clearer stance in stating that we want water services in Wales to be run from Wales rather than from Coventry. Having met with the Dee Valley workforce on Friday I’m in no doubt that that is what they want and that’s what is best for water consumers in Wales.”
Watch the exchange here.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Wales suffers worst 'not-spot' coverage in UK

Plaid Cymru push for UK mobile data expansion

How long have people been banging on about poor mobile or broadband reception in Wales - not just rural parts but across the country?

It's a disgrace that Wales remains the part of the UK with the worst 'not-spot' problem, despite successive "initiatives" by the UK Government, Welsh Government and private monopoly BT to improve the situation. 

To try to speed up things, Plaid Cymru will today push amendments in the House of Commons to ensure the whole of the UK can access high-speed mobile data signal.

The Plaid Cymru amendments will enable mobile network operators to use publicly-funded infrastructure as masts, avoiding the need for additional masts to be built and potentially speeding-up the process of reaching mobile not-spots across Wales and the other UK countries.

The party is also calling for mobile users to be allowed to ‘roam’ to other networks where their own provider cannot provide a signal. The Party’s Media spokesperson, Hywel Williams MP, will argue that it is “absurd” that whilst Welsh citizens are in the dark when it comes to mobile data signal, it is not a problem for foreign tourists who are allowed to roam.

Ofcom’s ‘Connected Nations’ report, published in 2015, identifies Wales as the country in the UK with the least 3G signal.  Outdoor voice 2G and 3G Coverage on A and B roads by the four operators is around 50%, with only one operator reaching 76%. The percentage of premises getting basic voice calls coverage from all the big four networks in 2015 was just 65%, compared to 85% for the rest of the UK.

Plaid Cymru’s Media spokesperson Hywel Williams MP, said:  

“So called ‘not-spots’ have been a problem in Wales for far too long and successive governments have utterly failed to get a handle on it. Ofcom has identified Wales as the least connected country in the UK with rural Wales in particular being served badly.

“This isn’t just an inconvenience – it is a very damaging barrier to business in many parts of Wales and especially in rural areas where there is no such thing as ‘passing trade’. A barrier to business also means a barrier to jobs and the decline of rural towns.

“Whilst the problem is serious for Welsh citizens and Welsh businesses, it is not a problem for visitors to the UK because their foreign SIM cards automatically allow for national roaming, meaning their mobile will connect with the strongest signal available, regardless of the provider.

“In comparison, British mobile phone users are stuck with a single provider and, by extension, a lack of mobile phone coverage in areas not covered by their provider. In some areas of North West Wales, service users are more likely to be able to pick up stronger roaming signals from Ireland than they are signals from their very own network operator.

“National roaming is allowed in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and in some parts of France. Our amendments would enable Welsh citizens and businesses to do so too.

Our amendments would also allow multiple mobile network operators such as O2 and Vodafone to use publicly-funded infrastructure as masts, not just EE as is currently the case.  This would avoid the need for them to build new masts themselves, speeding up the process of reaching these mobile not-spots and helping to achieve truly universal coverage.

“The Government has committed to funding masts for the Emergency Services Network so the infrastructure will already be in place. Whilst the Government has embarked upon this contract with EE, we argue that, because EE will be able to offer improved commercial services as a result of this infrastructure, the Government should allow access for all commercial networks instead of handing over a monopoly to one company.

“Successive governments have promised to deal with this issue and have repeatedly failed to do so. The government should accept Plaid Cymru’s amendments and finally act on their promises to the people of Wales and the UK.”

Dozens of firms supplying Dee Valley Water could lose out if takeover goes through

Here are the dozens of local firms who currently supply services to Dee Valley Water. There are about 80 in the Wrexham/Flintshire/Denbighshire area alone.

Thanks to for supplying the map.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Public appeal to Dee Valley shareholders: back your local water firm

Local jobs, services and suppliers at risk from hostile takeover bid - Plaid AM

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has made a public appeal to Dee Valley Water shareholders to consider local jobs, services and customers before making a decision on the proposed takeover of the firm by Severn Trent Water.

Speaking after a two-hour visit to the Dee Valley Water HQ at Packsaddle, Pentrebychan, near Wrexham, where he met managers and workers, he said there was obvious concern at all levels of the company about the uncertainty caused by the takeover bid.

Mr Gruffydd said: 
“This is no ordinary takeover. Firstly, we’re dealing with the most basic natural resource – water – and secondly, this is a local firm steeped in history and one with an excellent track record in terms of delivering a quality service. It’s very clear that this is far more than just another company in terms of staff commitment to quality and to their customers in the area.  
“The aggressive takeover bid by Severn Trent would probably mean at least half that workforce disappearing, the 80 local suppliers losing out and customers having to deal with a remote multinational firm based in Coventry. That’s why I’m making a public appeal today to Dee Valley’s many small shareholders to consider these issues very carefully when it comes to the vote at the Extraordinary General Meeting in January. 
"Some may believe that the takeover of a water firm by another water firm is a natural fit but the negative impact on jobs, local suppliers and customer service of a Severn Trent takeover is becoming increasingly clear.”

Mr Gruffydd also called for the Competition and Markets Authority, which regulates monopoly takeovers, to instigate a Phase 2 investigation. This is a more in-depth investigation to examine what impact the proposed takeover would have on consumers and the water regulator’s ability to monitor and make comparisons between water enterprises. The CMA has already launched a more limited Phase 1 inquiry but Mr Gruffydd said he believed there were grounds to go for the more comprehensive Phase 2 investigation.

After meeting staff, Mr Gruffydd said: 
“Management and workers alike stressed that this was a successful company that was delivering a good service, providing steady employment and using local suppliers. The ping-pong of rival takeover bids has introduced a very unwelcome level of uncertainty into people’s lives and workers and consumers alike are being treated as mere spectators in a game where nobody’s quite sure of the rules.
 "There is a wider game afoot, involving attempts to muscle into the Welsh water industry by a company based in England. That’s not welcome by me, by the workforce or by the wider community.  “I will continue to do my best to serve the interests of people who deliver this important service and also ensure that water consumers are given a voice in all of this. I’m grateful for the support of Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood in raising this in the Senedd earlier this week and we will not abandon this struggle until we safeguard the future of Dee Valley Water.” 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wrexham Council opposes fire engine cut

Good to see these headlines with Wrexham Council coming out firmly against the planned cuts in the fire service locally, including the loss of one fire engine and 24 firefighters.

Momentum is building behind the campaign to save our services, thanks in part to the huge march through the town earlier this month and the thousands that have signed our petition.

Plaid Cymru activists have been busy knocking doors each week for the past two months to collect support for the petition and deserve a huge pat on the back for keeping this issue live, in contrast to the failure of the local MP and AM to make any public statement.

Dee Valley Water: Assurances sought on jobs and services from Ancala

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has called for assurances on jobs and services after it emerged that a new bid for Dee Valley Water had been made.

A fresh bid for the Wrexham-based water firm by Ancala, a private equity firm, would – if accepted – trump a previous bid by Severn Trent Water that threatened jobs and local suppliers.

Llyr Gruffydd said: 
“The takeover bid by Severn Trent was a direct threat to many of the company’s workers and local suppliers. It would have seen the end of the company as a separate entity and that’s why I and the local workforce were so concerned. 
“This new bid by Ancala would, is successful, safeguard Dee Valley Water as a distinct company and that is to be welcomed. But there remain questions to be answered by the new bidders about guarantees to maintain jobs, local suppliers and the current quality of customer services. “I’ve now written to Ancala’s vice-president Tim Power asking for more information and will continue to work on behalf of Dee Valley Water staff to ensure that the current level of service and employment are maintained. He has responded positively this morning and promised to meet me at the earliest opportunity.” Mr Gruffydd added: “There are wider implications to this whole episode. This process has happened without any involvement or say by either the workforce or consumers. This is not a factory making widgets that we’re talking about – it’s an essential Welsh natural resource and I think we need to start a conversation about how we need all water in Wales to be run for the benefit of the people of Wales rather than be at the mercy of aggressive takeovers and outside interests. This is as good a time as any to ask: for whose benefit should water services in Wales be operating?”

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Breaking news: New bid for Dee Valley Water

Ancala, a London-based investment management firm, has tonight put in a new bid for Dee Valley Water that offers a penny extra to shareholders.

The offer of £17.06 per share trumps the existing Severn Trent offer of £17.05 - valuing the company at £78.5m.

Crucially, they have bought shares or had promises of support from existing shareholders equivalent to almost 40% of the total shareholding. This would effectively block any attempt by Severn Trent to get the necessary 75% needed at the EGM to take over Dee Valley.

Ancala has pledged to maintain Dee Valley as a distinct firm with a Wrexham base.

Leanne Wood speaks up for Dee Valley Water workers

‘Welsh water services should be run from Wales, for Wales, and not from Coventry’ – Leanne Wood

First Minister Carwyn Jones today admitted that the Welsh Government had not even contacted Dee Valley Water over the planned takeover of the Welsh firm by Severn Trent.

During questions by Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, who described the takeover as “a huge issue”, he said the Government was planning to write to the firm.

Leanne Wood also questioned him on jobs and the local economy, which she said would suffer greatly if the takeover went ahead: “The proposed takeover raises serious questions about the future of our natural resources. Our resources, which should be benefiting people in this country, are already being bought and sold as we speak. Has the First Minister considered what impact this takeover bid could have on the water industry in Wales, bearing in mind the competitive model being pushed in England that has been rejected here?
  “Will he join me by making a clear statement today that Welsh water services should be run from Wales, for Wales, and not from Coventry for a bunch of multinational shareholders?”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said: “I’m astounded at the complacency of the Welsh Government on this matter. It’s a big issue here in the North-east in terms of jobs and the knock-on effects for local suppliers but there’s a bigger picture that could affect the whole of Wales. Why hasn’t it registered with the First Minister, who has two local AMs in his cabinet?

“I’ll continue to work with concerned staff and customers, who have contacted me to express their fears about the loss of service, because Dee Valley Water is a successful local company with 150 years of history behind it. The Welsh Government is failing this part of Wales and Dee Valley workers and consumers deserve far better leadership. Thankfully, that’s what they’re getting from Leanne Wood in the Assembly.”

Watch the two-minute clip of Leanne Wood questioning the First Minister here.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Dee Valley takeover threatens Welsh Water too

This is not a local storm in a teacup. It has very far-reaching consequences. 

The proposed takeover of Dee Valley Water by Severn Trent raises serious questions about our most precious natural resource.

Local workers, many of whom will lose their jobs if the planned takeover goes ahead, have started this petition, which deserves our support.

It's a well-reasoned argument for Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water to take over the Wrexham-based company and highlights the firm's Welsh identity, something that would be completely lost if Severn-Trent had their way.

What's less understood is that Dee Valley Water's book value is around £20m, so why is Severn-Trent bidding £78m for it?

The bigger picture is murky.

At present, Dwr Cymru effectively has a monopoly on water services in the parts of Wales it serves. Severn-Trent, although based in Coventy, takes much of its water from mid Wales and has geographic control of much of that area.

In England, there are proposals by OFWAT to open up the water market. The move would allow consumers to buy their water from any number of water companies, as we now do with electricity and gas. It's unlikely to provide any benefits to customers but will allow water companies to grow.

The situation in Wales is different because Dwr Cymru is a not-for-shareholder-profit firm, unlike companies such as Severn-Trent. Its model pays any dividends to customers - the Welsh people - rather than shareholders.

Also, and this is critical to the Dee Valley story, there is no political appetite for opening up the market here in Wales. So an aggressively expansionist company like Dee Valley is looking to muscle into Wales and chooses to take over a small company at almost four times the book value.

Crucially in Severn Trent's offer is its commitment to merge Dee Valley with its existing Welsh business:
"Severn Trent intends to maintain a separate Welsh licence for Dee Valley and, subject to regulatory approval, intends that the whole of Severn Trent’s business in Wales will be regulated under Welsh Government Policy."

It is our belief that Severn Trent is seeking to build up a Welsh subsidiary that can challenge Dwr Cymru. This would mean that all the water services of Wales would be run from Coventry, as is currently being proposed in this takeover of Dee Valley.

The stakes are very high. Anyone concerned about who runs the Welsh water industry, about jobs and expertise in our communities and ownership of our most precious natural resource should join the campaign to halt Severn Trent's takeover of Dee Valley Water.

Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards MP raised concerns about the unequal relationship between Wales and England regarding our water three years ago:
"Full territorial integrity should be recognised, and it should be for the people of Wales to decide what happens to the water of Wales through our democratic institution, the National Assembly for Wales. It is therefore crucial that full control of water is devolved to Wales. It is a continuing disgrace that the Labour Government cynically blocked full devolution of water policy in the Government of Wales Act 2006, leaving the power of veto with London Ministers.

"Full control over water would finally end the grossly unfair system enshrined in the Water Act 1973, and perpetuated by the 2006 Act, in which water was lent to Severn Trent Water at a scandalously low rate of 5p a year for 999 years and the Secretary of State for Wales was empowered to overrule the National Assembly for Wales on matters of Welsh water supplies to England."
Now, more than ever, we need to have Welsh control over Welsh water.

UPDATE: Please sign the workers' petition.

Picture: Protest against the drowning of Welsh valleys in the 1960s. This has been an emotive subject for half a century and more.