No Shit Sherlock

In London 93% of the population is in reach of eight or more megabytes per second, but in Wales it is 38.4%, while more than one quarter cannot access even two megabyte services.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno “Figures show Wales is still lagging behind when it comes to broadband access and speed. We need to look at how to prioritise areas that cannot currently access broadband. I appreciate that it is important that broadband expansion is carried out in a manner that is commercially viable, but we must not lose sight of the fact that accountants must not have the last word.”

And even when you have theoretical 8MB shitty infrastructure means you don’t. Commercially viable must not be the deciding factor, by that rule we would not have had electricity & telephone lines, rail or roads in many parts. What once nationalised utilities built for the public commons decays where profit is not to be found, the inequality of access to services and quality of infrastructure is a function of the neoliberal state. Our future is going to look like a backward joke at this rate.

New Chief

North Wales Police has a new chief constable, Mark Polin, who says things like this-

“An unorganised mind environment is not for me I’m afraid.”

This will be interesting.

Update: A Q& A in the Daily Post, he comes across as a conservative on thedrugwar inc. unlike Brunstrom’s progressive attitude.

Hip + Groovy

Hip Op went fine, mum is recovering slightly better than for the other one, the hospital is still hellishly warm and airless though (and what’s up with the water pipes –still!?). Meanwhile Patientline, not only a disgraceful rip off, but seriously has to be the worst interface I have seen since…um, maybe the old broken photocopier in the my old university’s library?!?! It gives Ceefax a run for its money, ugly and user hostile (in every sense). Oh to be home and have Snow Leopard fondling my eyeballs.

Posted in Health. Tags: . 11 Comments »

Friday! The Beat- Tears of a Clown

Entertainment note- Island dwellers! Catch the John Lawson Circus as they tour Anglesey, however luxurious your home cinema may be it cannot be as entertaining and slightly surreal as an evening in the Big Top with actual people balancing on wires and twirling around above you. If we don’t support circuses then eventually you won’t be able to run away to one and that would be a terrible loss of life choices!

Or The ‘English’ Beat as they were known across the puddle.

Rotten Island

It’s official, our council is rubbish!

A watchdog wants the Welsh Assembly Government to step in urgently to bring in a major shake-up at a council. The Auditor General said Anglesey council has “serious persistent problems” which affect its working. “Personality politics” based on mistrust and suspicion were partly to blame, while problems existed with both officials and political arrangements. The council said it accepts the findings of the report and all seven recommendations for improvement.

“Serious, persistent problems at the Isle of Anglesey council urgently need addressing now if it is to restore its reputation, win back public trust and set a positive course for the future,” said Auditor General, Jeremy Colman. He said the council’s “history” meant he was convinced the changes that were needed would not happen unless there was outside input. “That is why I am calling on assembly government ministers to intervene and to provide the necessary external support and challenge that Anglesey council needs to help place it onto a firmer, more successful, footing,” he said.

In his report Mr Colman said even though there are good features in performance of many services there are internal issues. These include weak self-regulation, inappropriate behaviour and conflict. The report said all these issues had been left largely unaddressed since the council was established in 1996 – despite a number of previous external reviews. Mr Colman goes on to say there is a history of “personality politics” based around mistrust, suspicion and personal animosity.

This is not news to anyone who lives here, but maybe… maybe the self interested cabal who use our money to pursue their and developer’s interest will finally be exposed. Central government is cutting spending so we need councillors fighting for us.


It comes to something when corporations feel so entitled they reject huge wads of government welfare because it isn’t enough-

Wales’ deputy first minister has questioned the commitment of Anglesey Aluminium’s owners to stay on the island. Anglesey assembly member Ieuan Wyn Jones said he was disappointed the company had not accepted offer of UK and Welsh Assembly Government aid. The firm has rejected financial support of £48m over four years saying it was generous but not enough. The firm has offered 140 staff voluntary redundancy. Cheap power for Anglesey Aluminium has been supplied by the nearby Wylfa nuclear plant for the last 10 years. Talks are continuing to try to strike a new deal for cheap power, which has been supplied by the nearby Wylfa nuclear plant for the last 10 years.

There are many rumours on the island that surround the cheap electricity deal they have with Wylfa, I hope to get to the bottom of them and give AA a chance to respond but…ungrateful ain’t the half of it if they are true.

Welsh Fucking Water! (Well United Utilities)

And now… some light ranty relief:-

Here in sunny, ok rainy at present North Wales you get used to the fact that Welsh Water, the privatised water providing monopoly is incapable of providing clean fucking drinking water on a reliable basis! And here we go again-

About 70,000 households and businesses in two north Wales counties are being advised to boil their drinking water after bacteria were found in supplies. Customers in areas of Flintshire and Denbighshire supplied by the Alwen treatment works are affected.

Now this doesn’t affect me…yet, but for all those tired of this bullshit year in year out I ask- Is drinking water somehow beyond our scientific abilities? I’m sure I’ve heard of other places where amazingly you can drink the water and not get ill, ooh it must be like some futuristic dreamscape! Has the concept of potable water become an impossible riddle to even the greatest of minds?

No, it is just an impossibility to the neoliberal mind. Now enjoy the hilarious farce that is Welsh Water’s post privatisation history (thanks Conservatives!)-

Welsh Water Authority was privatised by stock market flotation in 1989, along with the other nine regional water authorities, which provided the company with a substantial cash surplus for some years, which it used to diversify in a wide range of sectors including leisure (Hotels, Fishing etc.).

Yeah that’s what I want from a water provider, a good range of hotels and a keen interest in angling. Oh no, what I meant was the other thing, what I like in a water provider is clean fucking drinking water! (I may have already mentioned that -clean fucking drinking water- but y’know repetition might make it sink in, in between the suits looking at new car brochures and second home buying).

It renamed itself Hyder in 1996 after taking over a local electricity company (SWALEC) and becoming a water and electricity multi-utility.

What could possibly go wrong, water and electricity mix so well!

However, in 1999/2000, following the windfall tax on utility profits and the 1999 Ofwat price review, Hyder got into financial difficulties which led to its breakup following a takeover battle.

Who could of foreseen their huge profits might get taxed and their business practices were so criminal Ofwat would force a change? They’re not mind readers…Oh these things took some years to happen and there were months of warning, erm…maybe they were otherwise engaged on what colour the hotels should be painted or which celebrity to advertise their fishing business, was Noel Edmonds busy, did Roger Daltrey turn them down?

Western Power Distribution purchased Hyder on 15 September 2000 with a view to acquiring its electricity distribution business, and rapidly sold off Hyder’s other assets. Welsh Water was sold by WPD to Glas Cymru for £1,

A pound? That explains it, they found a babbling tramp in a Cardiff street and swapped the company for a half can of special brew. Wait they didn’t? So what can explain it? Neoliberal MBA managerialism that couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery? Financiers who make money with every transaction regardless of the consequences to those who actually use the service? Like that could ever go wrong, CDO’s all round!

along with £1.85 billion of Hyder debt. Under the terms of its licence Glas Cymru may not operate in sectors other than water.

Imagine, a water providing monopoly actually dedicated to providing water and not using its monopoly (which makes it an industry manifestly unsuitable for privatisation even free market theoreticians could figure that out… or not apparently). But as it’s a monopoly, how about we own it (y’know, like we did), so it runs at cost and no one exploits the need for the most essential substance for life on planet Earth- water.

Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water (Dŵr Cymru means Welsh Water in Welsh) is owned by Glas Cymru, a company limited by guarantee. Most of Welsh Water’s activities are outsourced to other companies.

So really Welsh Water is a contracting body which passes on the work and …the responsibility?

KWS Wales operate waste water in the south and United Utilities operate clean water for the whole of Wales and waste water in the north.

Hey here’s an idea, keep the two separate! There you can have that for free, you see maybe your consultants haven’t told you this but sewage and drinking water…not the same thing, m’kay? But what was that again?

clean water for the whole of Wales.

Whoa there- United Utilities operate clean water for the whole of Walesthey do? Can we have some of this clean water? Where can you get it? Because it certainly doesn’t come out of the fucking taps!

Heddlu Raise The Flag

North Wales Police, getting better-

North Wales Police came second in a survey published by campaign group Stonewall, which surveyed nearly 7,000 workers across Wales. Employers were ranked according to criteria ranging from implementation of an effective equality policy to demonstrating how they engage with their homosexual staff and customers and service users.

And now the rainbow flag flies over the cop shop for a bit-

A rainbow flag has been hoisted outside a police headquarters to mark a month-long event celebrating gay rights. North Wales Police staff will be attending a series of activities as part of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual history month. The ceremony, held at North Wales Police’s headquarters in Colwyn Bay, was organised by the Gay Police Association (GPA) North Wales. Gay rights organisation Stonewall Cymru are among those supporting the events.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Shannon said: “I hope that this event sends out a clear message as we continue to strive for inclusivity and equality.”

Jenny Porter from Stonewall Cymru said the event was a sign to lesbian, gay and bisexual people in north Wales that the police had changed. “It is encouraging that people have confidence in the police to report homophobic hate crime,” she said. “The flag signifies that we are celebrating the fact that the world is full of people with differing sexual orientations and that everyone should be treated equally and with respect.”

Now if we can just get them to bin the Tasers and chillax on the traffic fines, but keep Brunstrom’s progressive ideas on drugs.

Culture For ‘Em- Where It’s At

Not Wales.

A while back in 2004 there was great excitement as Demi Moore shot some of a film Half Light on the island. When I finally saw the film it was  somewhat of a surprise to see our locale was in fact represented as being Scotland. Fair enough they can look similar but actually there was no need in the film for it not be Wales, other than I think to a larger and particularly US audience Wales is some indecipherable place outside of London, they do at least get Scotland is sort of another country attached to England… er probably. It’s just a little demeaning to have your environment chosen for its physical qualities and cinematic possibilities then have it be used as a cheaper stand-in for somewhere else. Then I saw The Dark a film supposedly set in Wales and actually featuring some allusions to Welsh myth (although there is no sign there were aware of Arthur Machen’s work) and certainly its coastal setting could easily be shot in Wales, which is obviously why they shot it…on the Isle of Man. So ok I know, it’s like this- movies cost plenty moolah and cutting local deals on tax and allowances often means a location shoot happens in odd places simply because it made financial sense. But where the location is an important factor in the mis en scene, is even a character almost in the story this business motivated cynicism does preclude chances for some authentic representation of a place and its associations.

Both of these movies were horror/psychological supernatural thriller type things (and both pretty average) and place was a powerful part of the atmosphere and tin The Dark’s case they did specifically include Welsh aspects in the story. Yet both films managed in one way or another not to really have any authenticity. Or maybe I wouldn’t be bothered if they were good, after all I’m not about to be annoyed at Sergio Leone for using Spain and Italy for the US & Mexico, hmmm. There was also the Alien 3 thing, how there were tales of shooting taking place in Wales but until the assembly cut got released these scenes were missing from the original cinema botch job. I always thought I had somehow blanked out with disappointment at the film and in doing so missed the Welsh coast bit, reasoning maybe it was a fun scene where they all decide to be friends and have a beach party chucking a ball around while the Alien barbecued up some vegie burgers to some bangin’ techno. Which really would not in any way of made the film any worse than it was. The assembly cut makes it slightly better and the rainy Welsh bits are a welcome addition and at least in that case it was legitimate to be standing in for somewhere else, off world location shoots so far being limited to doco footage on the moon.

The does demonstrate the proud tradition of Wales standing in for other places, (Tibet, India, Scunthorpe) but it peeves me a bit that the genuine beauty and atmosphere remains largely absent from film and it keeps being a case of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. After all it’s always nice to see a place you know get well represented in cinema, Manchester has had a few and as well as the recent well known ones (usually music related) I’d like to mention the Stanley Baker ( a dedicated socialist & the Welsh Sean Connery? He turned down Bond) starring Hell is a City (1960) (Hey wait what are they saying about Manchester?, I mean London I could understand…). A nice black and white depiction of Manchester as a backdrop for a crime drama with the excellent and sometimes forgotten Baker doing a hard boiled cop meeting emerging social realism with great skill. More at this great site with tons of stills and pics of modern Manchester for comparison, excellent.

Now should you catch yourself wondering whether to watch these two films (The Dark, Half Light) I would mostly say don’t bother except the (limited) extras on The Dark DVD do include a brilliantly unintentionally hilarious interview with the director (actually the demon sheep are pretty funny too). It’s like a real life version of The Comic Strip’s The Strike, he recounts how the original script and writer were let go as it was an adaptation of a book and he wanted to do a horror/ supernatural thing and the book /script was not quite in that genre, so he and a new writer ‘re-conceptualised’ the film to suit his desires of a spooky horror job. Then they were shooting before the new script was finished. Which is something you can kinda pick up from the film shall we say. Maria Bello is good in it but perhaps it’s easiest to say Paul WS Anderson was involved, so y’know, you can enjoy it once you lower your expectations to the correct…erm level.

Ps. Weirdly the director of The Dark also directed Ginger Snaps which is pretty spiffy and Emily Perkins he who played the non werewolfy sister (also recently the abortion clinic receptionist in Juno) taught acting at  Aberystwyth, University of Wales between 2005-06. He should have got her on board to advise on location the big eejit. He did at one point in the hilarious interview recount- So Sean Bean’s character moves back to England and gets a house in Wales- clearly not quite up to speed on the Britain/England, Scotland, Wales thang.

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But This Will Take A Long Time

It will take over a century and cost £850m, now the public is being asked what it thinks of clean-up plans for Anglesey’s nuclear plant. The Wylfa power station is due to halt electricity production in 2010, after nearly 40 years in operation. It has taken three years for specialists to pull together detailed plans for decommissioning the site. Those proposals are being put out for public consultation, starting with an open day at Wylfa on Friday.

As well as considering how to handle radioactive waste at the site, the environmental study being considered also looks at the cultural and archaeological impacts of decommissioning the station. “When Wylfa stops generating there will be period of four to five years when there will be very little difference in the visual impact of Wylfa on the skyline,” explained Ms Milburn. “When we get to about 2015, we will begin to see the skyline changing. The smaller building will disappear over a period of 10 years.” But the large reactor building that dominates the station’s site will remain in place for another hundred years, before the “final site clearance” stage is reached.

The report puts forward plans to build a new storage building on the site to hold the remaining intermediate radioactive waste, which will include plant structures that have been contaminated during the stations operating life.

So one plan is to sneakily turn it into a dump, nice. And a hundred years from now…I mean we’re guaranteed there will be the will and funding to dismantle the reactor, aren’t we? Yeah, I’m sure nothing could go wrong like a global financial crash, nah we’ll be all sensible and futuristic then and there’s no chance it will just sit there for ever. Too cheap to meter…

That Didn’t Take Long

Anglesey privatised its school meals this year and the new corporation running the service began serving kids food in September. Ok, so when it was announced-

Changes to the £1.5m Anglesey school meals contract have prompted complaints from kitchen staff and local suppliers. They fear jobs will be lost if the new contractors do not use local produce.

New contractor Eden food service said in a statement: “It is our priority to support local suppliers in Anglesey and thereafter support local producers throughout Wales.

And now just a few weeks since beginning-

PUPILS on Anglesey are being served up foreign meat by private contractors brought in to provide the school dinner service, the Daily Post can reveal. At least 11 headteachers on the island have contacted the local authority to protest that cooks are being supplied with continental beef and lamb – while Welsh farmers are ignored.

Anglesey education boss Cllr Eurfryn Davies yesterday declared it unacceptable and promised a full investigation. At the centre of the row is Berkshire-based Eden Food-service, which has just been given a three-year deal to supply Anglesey’s schools having promised to supply “fresh and local ingredients”.

So their commitment which served to quell some of the objections to the privatisation is um, a bit on the fibby side. Now the coverage is a bit ‘foreign meat’-y (which as an unnationalistic vegetarian doesn’t float my boat) they don’t get into the concept of food miles or the larger issues of privatisation and the profit motive dictating all aspects of life but you can’t have everything and maybe this will be a lesson (geddit?) to some. And privatisation will be an issue come the elections.

And The Cupboard Was Bare

That was the scene today in Co-op in Llangefni, competition and consolidation were too much in this financial climate. I liked it, not anything special but it was nice to mooch round every so often, less FULL ON than the rather rubbish Asda. It also had some lovely weathered shutters round the back which I planned to photograph with my swanky camera in the right weather & time of day (magic hour!). But now it’s shutting I grabbed a snap with me fone just in case it gets demolished (someone’s car spoiling the shot, dammit). Also the prospect of Aldi opening and with Co-op buying Somerfields (there is one nearby) probably sealed its fate, so commiserations to the staff and farewell.

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Autumn’s Here!

Autumn has kicked in here which means high winds racing in off the sea and…the dodgy rusty old phone line (thanks privatised BT oversubscribed & TalkTalk) begins to leak zeroes and ones. So the wobbly connection might stifle blogging a tad (it’s intermittent tonight) or it might be ok mostly, there’s really no way of telling. So there you go. A virtually pointless post (what do you mean ‘as usual’). I’m going to have my fifth go at getting it improved but as the ‘fifth’ implies, results have so far been, er, none.

Meantime, have a whizzy pic (that’s the technical term for slow shutter blurry goodness which doesn’t do the camera justice but hey this isn’t an ad baby, it’s art!) I took with my new fone-not too expensive cos it’s 2 years old and out of fashion, but I had to get one even though I hardly use it hence pay as you go is the best cost benefit solution even though it means you have to buy a handset when the old one kaks it– apparently it was the model clumsily product placed in Casino Royale, (it can’t be much longer until every single prop is sponsored and the mise en scène resembles a racing driver’s firesuit) which I didn’t know and would have put me off, I feel so used & dirty now.

Meanwhile, What Happens When Your Helicopter Breaks Down?

You call for a tow, this BBC video shows one of the Sea King rescue choppers that are based on the island (you always see them practising in the bay and rescuing punters off mountains and from ill judged nautical adventures), being towed home after it went to airlift an injured walker on Snowdonia but broke down itself. So they got an RAF Chinook (yes one that actually works) and it picks it up, like a mummy chopper taking an injured baby chopper home, aaahhhhhh. Now back to excoriating the imperial war machine, rescuing good, bombing bad, so stop it!

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Sexual Violence in Wales

Three members of the Welsh assembly have disclosed in a questionnaire they were sent by one of their colleagues that they have been raped. Nerys Evans sent it to all 60 Assembly Members (AMs) and eight responded. None of the three reported the rape, and neither did another AM who was a victim of domestic abuse.

The Plaid Cymru AM’s questionnaire coincides with a larger survey of students by Amnesty International and NUS Wales about violence against women. A total of seven women and one man responded to Ms Evans’s questionnaire. Five of those said they knew someone who had been sexually assaulted without reporting the incident.

The eight AMs also said they knew someone who had been abused by a violent partner. Two of the victims contacted police, and three sought help. The two organisations are calling on the assembly government and universities and colleges in Wales to take measures to tackle violence against women students.

The survey of more than 700 students across Welsh campuses found 64% of respondents knew women whose partners had hit them, and 41% knew women who had been pressurised or coerced into sex. A third also believed a woman was totally or partially responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted if she was drunk or had been flirtatious, and a quarter thought she was in some way to blame if she walked alone in a deserted area.

Amnesty and the NUS described those statistics as a “shocking level of tolerance for sexual violence”. Ms Evans is calling on the assembly government to fund an awareness-raising campaign in Wales. She said: “It is disappointing that attitudes of our young people haven’t moved on. This presents a worrying future. There is a real need to tackle the suggestion that a woman can be responsible for being raped.”

She thinks there is a particular problem for abuse victims in isolated parts of the country. “There are so many rural communities in Wales where there’s no access to help. Although services for victims are improving across different parts of Wales, it is imperative that we bring attention to this issue in order to bring the message home that violence against women is unacceptable.”

Now I have to add, out of 60 AM’s only 8 responded which tells its own story of indifference secondly this story has two headlines on the BBC site one on the page itself Three Welsh politicians ‘raped’ one on the Wales front page Three AMs claim they were raped. I have written to the BBC about those as to me both imply a scepticism of the reports of rape and particularly given the substance of the story are insensitive and poorly worded. Unless they were going for a conceptual approach to demonstrate how the media are part and parcel of the problem, which somehow I doubt. Overall it doesn’t give a very good impression of progressive Welsh attitudes (or lack thereof) it would have helped if more than 13% of the assembly had taken it seriously enough to reply.