This Is Not The Solution To The Problems We’re Facing

There have been so many articles about Wrexham County Borough Council on Daily Post Online over the past few days that I considered Wrexham County Borough Council to be worthy of a post on this blog. It is almost de rigueur for the county councils in north Wales to hold civil wars among their own members and to make ludicrous decisions that are not in the interests of local residents, but Wrexham has come into its own recently.

In yesterday’s post ‘History Repeats Itself, First As Tragedy, Second As Farce’, I mentioned that it had been proposed by Wrexham Council officers that the Councillors should take a pay cut in order to preserve services, but the Councillors themselves had voted against this. I seem to remember that the comments of Cllr Marc Jones, the leader of the Plaid group on the Council, were published by the Daily Post Online. I think that it was Marc Jones who maintained that the Councillors would be crying crocodile tears if they now told the residents of Wrexham that it was unfortunate that services would have to be cut. I have a degree of sympathy with Marc Jones on that point – but the other Councillors maintained that they were not allowed to vote on their own remuneration, even if it’s to reduce it. I think that a meeting is planned to thrash it all out.

This morning there was another Wrexham Country Borough Council story in the Daily Post Online, this time reporting a huge row that the Councillors had among themselves regarding which flag should be flown over the Council offices. Some Councillors wanted only the Ddraig Goch (the Welsh Dragon) flown, other Councillors wanted the Union flag flown as well as the Ddraig Goch. Some interesting arguments were forward by the Councillors who wanted the Union flag flown as well, pivoting upon the fact that Welshmen had fought and died in the two World Wars of last century. I can’t quite understand how this is an argument for flying the Union flag, but another argument used by the group who wanted to fly the Union flag was that the leader of the group who wanted to only fly the Ddraig Goch supported Welsh independence, so they would vote against his proposal. Again I find myself confused – I do not support Welsh independence but where is the harm in flying only the Ddraig Goch above the offices of a Welsh Council in Wales? (I did support independence at one point, but found myself argued down by other people who maintained that Wales is too poor a nation to become independent at present. However the one thing that really caused me to reject the notion of independence for Wales was discovering just how many of those in our glorious National Assembly had colluded with/kept quiet about the organised child sexual abuse which has caused such havoc in Wales, particularly in the north. This blog makes it clear that Westminster by no means has clean hands regarding this matter either, but it was Wales that suffered so badly at the hands of a lot of politicians in Wales who betrayed their own people in a very big way. They can’t be trusted with the future of the nation until a major clean up has taken place.)

The Post reported the comments of one Wrexham Councillor in particular regarding the row about the flags – a Cllr Marc Jones. Cllr Jones was someone who wanted only the Ddraig Goch flown and seemed sufficiently angry at losing the vote to have contacted the Daily Post. Shouldn’t he really be able to compromise on such a matter and get down to business working on more important things?

So imagine my surprise this afternoon when yet another story about Wrexham County Borough Council appeared on Daily Post Online – a story featuring a Cllr Marc Jones. Were I a Councillor in Wrexham I think that I would have supported Cllr Jones over the matter of implementing a cut to Councillors salaries in order to preserve services and flying the Ddraig Goch only, but Cllr Jones really did get it wrong in this afternoon’s story.

Marc Jones was sounding off in the Post Online regarding the matter of patient access to beds at the Hafan Wen detox centre in Wrexham. Marc is furious that English patients can get a bed within a matter of weeks, but patients from north Wales have to wait up to five months. Hafan Wen has 25 beds, 13 of which are commissioned by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, but the remaining 12 beds are commissioned by Health Boards from England. Cllr Jones commented that until 2007 all 25 beds at Hafan Wen were commissioned for patients from north Wales and he wants a return to this situation.

Cllr Jones commented on the chaos that drug use is now causing in Wrexham and although he says of the Hafan Wen centre ‘this is not the solution to the problems we’re facing in Wrexham’ he goes on to state that ‘it’s one step to finding a complete answer’.

Not only is Hafan Wen not the solution to Wrexham’s problems, but it won’t even be one step towards a complete answer either. Why not? Because Hafan Wen is run by Dafydd Alun Jones and the paedophiles’ friends ie. CAIS. As with everything run by Dafydd, the reality does not match the claims made and there is dissatisfaction with Hafan Wen. A patient recently died there in very questionable circumstances, although it was notable that the questions raised concerning this death did not find their way into the Daily Post. This blog was contacted by a former member of staff at Hafan Wen who maintained that care there is by no means what it should be or what is claimed.

Marc Jones mentioned that until 2007 all beds at Hafan Wen were commissioned by the north Wales NHS. By 2007 Mary Burrows, the one north Wales NHS CEO who challenged the institutional corruption in the NHS in north Wales, had taken over the management of the NHS in the region covering Wrexham – Hafan Wen is situated upon the site of Wrexham Maelor Hospital. What’s the betting that Mary had discovered what a con CAIS is and that she implemented that particular change in provision? No wonder ALL the beds at Hafan Wen had been commissioned by the NHS in north Wales – my post ‘The Evolution Of A Drugs Baron?’ described exactly how Dafydd and CAIS picked up the contract for ‘substance abuse services’ for the whole of north Wales and it was far from transparent and open.

Marc mentions the terrible problems that Wrexham has with drugs and the associated issues. I have mentioned before that Dafydd and CAIS were awarded the contract for substance abuse services in 1995 – so the current chaos, with the associated turf wars and murders, is a result of their ‘services’ for the last twenty years. I don’t know how Dafydd has managed to hoodwink English Health Boards into buying his services, but north Wales has suffered quite enough as a result of Dafydd’s services, it doesn’t need to commission any more of them.

I am interested to discover the existence of a fan of Dafydd’s on Wrexham Council however, indeed such a big fan that he has gone to the Daily Post in an attempt to secure yet more contracts for Dafydd from the Betsi. My post ‘The Story Behind £1.5 Million’ explained the stitch-up which resulted in CAIS landing the contract for ‘service user and carer involvement’ across the whole of north Wales. Now not only do the paedophiles’ friends not have any credibility in the field of service user and carer involvement, but the awarding of that contract was inexplicable even before BEFORE the stitch-up that was the ‘tendering’ process. Before the contract was put out to tender – the commissioning process was operated in such a way that CAIS was the only organisation in a position to tender – the decision to put the contract out to tender and the way in which this would be done was made by Wrexham County Borough Council. North Wales is a huge region and Wrexham is actually very unrepresentative of the region as a whole.

Wrexham is very urban, English speaking and geographically located almost in England. Most of Wrexham is socio-economically disadvantaged, but on the outskirts of Wrexham there are places like Marford, which contain some of the most expensive properties in Wales. Many residents of Wrexham County commute to work in England. Wrexham is nothing like the rest of north Wales. So why was Wrexham County Borough Council given the remit for planning service user and carer involvement across the whole of north Wales? Areas like north west Wales – rural and Welsh speaking – never got a look in. From what I heard, ‘service users and carers’ in north west Wales didn’t even know that any of this was happening and they certainly weren’t consulted. Very few of them even knew about the ‘involvement’ vehicle that Dafydd et al established once they’d landed the contract that only they were in a position to apply for, a vehicle called CANIAD (see post ‘Introducing ‘Caniad’!’). Furthermore, CANIAD is overwhelmingly concerned with ‘service users’ with drug problems – there’s a surprise. If one is a ‘service user’ who does not have a problem with drugs or alcohol and one speaks Welsh and lives in rural Gwynedd, there’s sod all for you in CANIAD.

I tried very hard to discover exactly who decided to allow Wrexham County Borough Council to ensure that Dafydd got his paws on that £1.5 million for providing ‘service user involvement’ and on what rationale their decision was made, but I got nowhere. What was clear was that someone in Wrexham County Borough Council was determined to give Dafydd et al that contract – and that someone in the Betsi ensured that Dafydd’s little helper was in a position to make that decision, because it was the Betsi who decided that Wrexham County Borough Council would be running the commissioning process. As ever with matters Dafydd, nothing was open and transparent. But Dafydd and co have now trousered the dosh and this blog has already been contacted by someone who volunteered for CANIAD who claims that there is bugger all genuine ‘service user involvement’ happening and that no-one knows what CAIS has done with all the money because the ‘service users’ working for CANIAD are barely receiving their travel and lunch expenses.

In the light of Cllr Jones’s efforts to send more business in Dafydd’s direction, I looked up Cllr Jones’s background. Cllr Jones is the Plaid group leader on the Council, but the register of interests also mentions that Cllr Jones is the Press Officer for Plaid AM Llyr Gruffydd. Llyr tried whipping up a bit of business for Dafydd himself some years ago. Dafydd famously used to run a ‘nursing home’ called Ty Gwyn in Llandudno for ‘veterans suffering from PTSD’. Except that a former member of staff from Ty Gwyn told me that most of the patients there were not veterans at all, they were drug users who had got into trouble with the law and were staying at Ty Gwyn so that Dafydd would write them a favourable Court Report. I only know one person who stayed at Ty Gwyn and they described it as a ‘mediocre boarding house’. Ty Gwyn was unable to provide vegetarian food and this person was told to go into Llandudno and buy take-aways for his meals. He realised that he was being ripped-off (he was paying about £2000/week for the ‘nursing home’ and that was sharing a room and at 1990s prices), so he discharged himself. When he did this Dafydd turned up and tried to persuade him to stay ‘just another few weeks’. That was the first time that he saw Dafydd since his arrival. Nonetheless, during one election campaign, Llyr Gruffydd felt able to describe Ty Gwyn as a ‘beacon of excellence’ – Llyr was very angry because the beacon of excellence had gone out of business after the Welsh Gov’t refused to foot the bill for real veterans to stay there.

Before Marc Jones worked as Llyr’s Press Officer, he was a journalist. Marc worked for the BBC, ITV Wales, the Wrexham Leader – and for the Daily Post! Which might explain why he finds it so easy to get his views aired in the Daily Post when he clashes with the other Councillors or wants to put a bit of business Dafydd’s way.

In my post ‘History Repeats Itself, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce’ I mentioned that Wrexham Council was best known for colluding with the paedophile ring that operated in the north Wales children’s homes, particularly Bryn Estyn and the Bryn Alyn Community near Wrexham – the only Councillor who famously refused to collude was Malcolm King, all the others kept a very low profile. Much more recently, there has been one other Wrexham Councillor who repeatedly demanded further investigations into the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal – that was Keith Gregory. Keith Gregory had been in ‘care’ at Bryn Estyn. Despite the current demands that ‘victims should be listened to’ no other Councillors ever appeared alongside Mr Gregory in the press supporting his requests for further investigations. Mr Gregory has now stepped down from the Council because of poor health.

I don’t know for how long Marc Jones has been a Wrexham Councillor, but I see that he originally came from Mold and moved to Wrexham nearly thirty years ago to study at NEWI (which later became Glyndwr University). Everyone who has lived in north Wales and certainly in Wrexham for the last thirty years knows about the north Wales paedophile ring. If they hadn’t heard about it directly on the grapevine they read about it in the press from the early 1990s onwards. Cllr Jones was a journalist… Intriguingly, the local papers didn’t report quite as much about the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal as one would have expected. The Waterhouse Inquiry was held near Mold, Cllr Jones’s old stomping ground. Mold was certainly where the action was – after the embarrassment of the Jillings Report which confirmed the most dreadful abuse over many years of children in the care of Clwyd County Council, that Council was abolished and the newly created Flintshire County Council took over the handling of the Jillings Report’s aftermath. The offices of Flintshire County Council were located in Mold.

A number of the social workers who abused the kids in the children’s homes ‘trained’ at Cartrefle College – which became NEWI. Someone of Cllr Jones’s age who grew up and lived in north east Wales will also have known all about the dreadful reputation of the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, which was run by Dafydd.

There is an interview with Cllr Jones available online at Wrexham.Com. He mentions that his best memory is the birth of his sons at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The Wrexham Maelor Hospital which had such serious problems in it’s maternity unit some years ago that a number of babies and mothers died, but the hospital managers refused to call in the risk managers to try to identify the cause of the deaths because it would damage the hospital’s reputation. The Wrexham Maelor which employed staff who asked no questions when they treated children from the children’s homes with serious injuries – or in some cases sent them away without treatment. The Wrexham Maelor which used to employ Lesley Griffiths, Wrexham’s AM who subsequently became Health Minister, as a medical secretary. Lesley Griffiths was also a Councillor in Wrexham. She has remained remarkably silent about the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal as well.

I can only wonder what with Cllr Marc Jones popping up so frequently in the Daily Post Online at the moment whether there might be council elections on the horizon in Wrexham. Whether there are or not, I think we should be told why Cllr Jones is batting for more dosh for Dafydd when he undoubtedly will have some knowledge of Dafydd’s less than impressive track record.

There is something else that Cllr Jones – and his fellow Councillors – should be concerning themselves with at present rather than scrapping over flags and trying to divert yet more of the NHS budget into the coffers of Dafydd and co. That is the plight of the homeless in Wrexham.

The Daily Post Online has reported a great deal about homelessness in Wrexham recently. The problem was dealt with by using the police to throw the homeless out of the bus station – which was where a lot of them had taken to sleeping because it had a roof – by the use of court orders. Because homeless people don’t actually magically disappear when they are removed from public view, after they were booted out of the bus station and indeed the whole of the town centre, a load of them set up a camp on the site of the old Groves School. The Wrexham Councillors were most irate about this and then they got even more angry when local residents who did have somewhere to live started helping the campers by giving them food. I thought that this was a very good reflection on the people of Wrexham, but the Councillors then stated that the homeless people would sell the food donated to them to ‘buy drugs’. Not all homeless people are drug users and furthermore drugs are a great deal more expensive that food, particularly the sort of food donated by sympathetic supporters. I don’t expect that the homeless of Wrexham had buckets of caviar to sell to restaurants in Cheshire, they were probably being given pasta and tins of beans which won’t fetch much on the second hand market. You won’t get many wraps of cocaine for the price of a packet of spaghetti.

There was yet more ranting about the homeless in today’s Daily Post Online. A group called Help Wrexham Homeless have been further over-indulging the homeless at the Groves School camp by providing them with extravagant luxuries such as sleeping bags and food. Cllr Hugh Jones, the lead member for Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety, stated that the Help Wrexham Homeless group were ‘undermining’ the work of the Wrexham Community Safety Partnership by ‘negatively affecting our ability to resolve the long term issues from which they are suffering’. The only long term issue from which the homeless are suffering is that they don’t have anywhere to live and kicking them out of the bus station was not going to resolve that.

Wrexham Council members and staff have a rather odd view of homeless people. A major sociology project was carried out in north Wales a few years ago and I was part of it. Part of the study involved looking at how the housing officers perceived homeless people. References kept being made to homeless people having ‘multiple complex long term problems’, ‘usually mental health or drug problems’. Some homeless people do have these problems, but at the same time as constructing all homeless people in this way, the housing officials admitted that they had a great shortage of housing, with only five or six properties being vacant at any given time, yet thousands of people were on the waiting list. This suggests that the problem is not hordes of people with long term complex problems or drugs/mental health problems, it is a very great shortage of places for people to live.

Cllr Hugh Jones claimed that Wrexham Council are working with Wrexham Homeless Group and AVOW (a Third sector organisation in Wrexham) ‘bringing together all the resources needed to address the complex problems’. All the resources except places for people to live. Hugh Jones stated that he would ‘ask this group [Help Wrexham Homeless] to work with all the established voluntary organisations already working in partnership’. Those will be the established voluntary organisations which have left the campers of Groves School homeless. One of the established voluntary organisations with which Wrexham Council is already working in partnership is CAIS. Yes, Dafydd and CAIS claim to offer services for homeless people. Dafydd will be receiving Gov’t dosh for this ‘service’, just as he receives dosh for ‘substance abuse services’ and ‘service user involvement’, but I bet that he’s not building any houses for the homeless with all that dosh.

Angie Hammons, a member of Help Wrexham Homeless, maintains that despite Wrexham Council’s claims to be addressing the ‘complex long term problems’ of the homeless on the camp, her group have identified that there are gaps in even this provision. Angie’s quite precise about it as well, she claims that the homeless are left without between Thursday mornings and Friday evenings and at weekends, which is when her group steps in to provide additional supplies of food etc.

Help Wrexham Homeless organised a petition calling for a public meeting over the homeless issue, but Cllr Hugh Jones maintains that this is not a ‘real’ petition and that it contains fictitious names. Or perhaps names which Cllr Jones doesn’t recognise – the names of homeless people rather than Councillors or the CEOs of ‘established voluntary organisations’ perhaps.

The very obviously swelling number of homeless people in Wrexham and the massive drugs problem would seem to echo the questions that many people in Wales have been asking recently – in the light of the huge quantities of long-term Gov’t funding that the voluntary sector are in receipt of (CAIS doesn’t rely on coffee mornings and tombolas for it’s funds, it receives literally millions from bodies like the Welsh Gov’t and the DWP), what exactly are they doing with all the money? And why are these organisations so unaccountable – they very obviously are not assisting with the problems that they are being paid to resolve, yet the contracts and money continue in their direction and local residents who plug the very obvious gaps in provision are given a bollocking by Councillors on the grounds that they are not ‘established voluntary organisations’.

Perhaps Cllr Marc Jones can explain why Wrexham County Borough Council are so wedded to the ‘established voluntary organisations with which they work in partnership’ in the face of them very obviously not delivering the goods – in Cllr Jones’s own words, ‘this is not the solution to the problems we’re facing’.

 

Author: Sally Baker

I am a writer and a sociologist, originally from Somerset, but I've been based in Wales for most of my life. I had my first encounter with a mental health professional in 1984 at the age of 21. My GP described this man to my then partner - who also became a sociologist - as someone who had experienced 'considerable success'. My meeting with this psychiatrist was a disaster and we attempted to complain about his insensitivity and highly inappropriate behaviour. That was the first time we were threatened and pressurised to withdraw a complaint against a mental health professional. This man is long dead - he was a retired psychiatrist from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, T. Gwynne Williams, who was working shifts in the student health centre at University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). We discovered years later that this 'successful man' was notorious - he had been an enthusiastic lobotomist...

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