Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Tesco ET AL should prioritise delivery spots for elderly and vulnerable.

Last week i tweeted this

As Tesco, ASDA etc Home Deliveries now have full delivery spots . They should reserve slots some for those on high risk who have been ordered to stay at home. Proof can be shown on delivery.

It seems that I might have underestimated the problem

Wales Online report that.

Vulnerable people have criticised the Welsh and UK Governments as they cannot access an online register service to allow them to register for priority supermarket delivery slots.The UK Government has created an online register so people can register to say they need extra help during the coronavirus outbreak. Yet people in Wales cannot register.
With click and collect and online delivery slots in short supply, the register is being used by supermarkets to prioritise those who are classed as "extremely vulnerable".It is open to those elderly people and those with underlying health conditions who were advised to stay in their homes and avoid face-to-face contact for 12 weeks before lockdown was brought in.A spokesman for the Welsh Government told us that vulnerable people here would be able to request a free weekly food box from their local authority.But we were contacted by the carer of a six-year-old with leukemia who explained why being able to access priority supermarket delivery slots was also important and urged the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to ensure people here can access the register.The family, who asked not to be identified, would qualify if they lived in England."There is no opportunity for Welsh patients to get on that list. There is no register here and no where to ask for help from. Online shopping has disappeared," they said."These patients are so vulnerable they might not survive coronavirus."They would also put a massive pressure on the NHS if they did become infected. For their benefit and the benefit of the country they have been told to stay in for 12 weeks with no plans to help or support them. In some areas they are locked inside their homes literally frightened for their lives."
Clearly we need a register  , in Wales or use of the one that is seemingly only avilable in England, but it may be useful, to inquire how effective it is working across the boarder
Philip Pearce from Bridgend told BBC Wales: "It's ridiculous. How am I meant to get my shopping delivered now? I have always had it delivered but now I'm expected to pick it up. This can't be right."Age Cymru said it was "vital" for people in Wales to be able to sign up.Its chief executive Victoria Lloyd said: "Many older people have told us that they have to wait for up to three weeks for a delivery while others were simply thrown out of the registration process.Retired nurse Beverly Harrison-Wood, 63, from Cardigan, Ceredigion, told BBC Wales the earliest delivery slot she has been offered with any of the major supermarkets was mid-April.Mrs Harrison-Wood, who has rheumatoid arthritis, lives with her husband, 69, and her 85-year-old mother, said they had about a week's worth of food left.She said: "There's no chance at all of getting a delivery..."Unfortunately we can't [sign up for priority] as it's available to England but not to Wales, which is annoying."Grace Gardener@gardenerinwales
How do I register my 91 yr old dad as a vulnerable person in Wales? Why is it different here? This is no time for devolution. One nation the UK should act as one. @AthertonNWales @BBCWales @fmwales @AndrewRTDavies499:02 AM - Mar 26, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy54 people are talking about thisWe have repeatedly asked the Welsh Government what their plans to help these people are.The response on Monday was that people who have been identified as extremely vulnerable can get council support.A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "From tomorrow (31 March), all those people who have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer asking them to shield themselves for 12 weeks because they are extremely vulnerable, will be able to request a free weekly food box delivery from their local authority, if they do not have support from friends or family."

In an updated statement, they added: “The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs met representatives from the retail sector again today to discuss a range of issues, including the support they will be able to provide as the pandemic continues.“Retailers have committed to continue to work with the Welsh Government, including prioritising food supplies for people who are shielding, the elderly, other vulnerable people and our NHS and care workers, as well as providing extra support for food banks.”In Scotland, advice and contact details are available to "arrange for food and medicine deliveries, and other support services".
Frankly I son't see why my original idea , of prioritising Time Slots could not be brought in, without a bureaucratic system as I said proof of prioritycould be made on delivery. 

However it must be remembered many of the elderly and vulnerable may not have ONLINE Access and I wonder how they are coping.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Nicola Sturgeon has a net score of +54 , Boris +17 for their handling of the virus.

Despite the Salmond trial  and infighting over when to call the Second Independence referendum (although the coronarvirus may have ended an immediate poll) The SNP are set to win a record number of seats in the next Holyrood elections according to the latest opinion poll.
The Panelbase study for the Sunday Times predicts Nicola Sturgeon is on course to lead her party to a landslide with 70 seats.
Such a result would give the SNP a clear mandate to demand that Tory leader Boris Johnson allow another independence referendum and set up a potential constitutional crisis with the Prime Minister having vowed not to sanction IndyRef2.

The constituency forecasts puts the SNP on a thumping 51 per cent with the Conservatives in second place and unchanged since the last poll in November on 26 per cent.
Support for the Labour party in Scotland has slumped five points to 14 per cent.
The survey has the Lib Dems on six per cent – down two per cent – and the Greens on three per cent – up one per cent.
The regional vote also shows rising support for the SNP with the party up 10 per cent to 48 per cent, the Tories unchanged on 26 per cent, Labour on 13 per cent, and both the Lib Dems and Greens on six per cent.
If the figures were repeated at the election in May 2021 the SNP would get one more seat than they managed in their historic 2011 victory that saw the party form the first ever majority Government at Holyrood.
The poll of 1023 people - which took place between March 24 and 26 - shows a small increase in support for independence with 49 per cent saying they would vote Yes, an increase of two per cent.
The looming threat of Brexit and Sturgeon’s leadership during the coronavirus crisis appears to have helped boost the SNP numbers with the party leader rated as having a net score of +54 for her handling of the pandemic while Johnson was +17 and Donald Trump -55.
I suspect a diffrent picture in Wales with the Senedd  not being seen as proactive as Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister all but  invisible partly due to being ignored by the London media' including the BBC.
A situation which will get worse a sthe BBC Breakfast program drops the short input from BBC Wales.
A situation whih will not improve as the BBC drops breakfast local news bulletins.
The decision clearly has come from the HQ and BBC Cymru/Wales have no say in it .
But to be honest the Welsh Labour Government have not helped the situation by its failure to even be seen to provide the leadership Ms Sturgeon has given in Scotland.
Following the UK government lead may be the easy options , but I for one do not have faith in the Boris Johnson Government , whose slow response and failure to seek cooperation with the European Union is making the crisis worse. 

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Are Unionists using the coronavirus crisis to damage devolution settlement.

One of the first things this Blog relies on when I start writing it in the morning about 6-7 is the regular Welsh News segment on the BBC Breakfast program .

So it was disturbing to read this on Nation Cymru

The BBC has been criticised after announcing that breakfast news bulletins from BBC Wales would no longer be shown on BBC One.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said the decision was “shocking” and needed to be “overturned immediately”.
BBC Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies, however, defended the decision, saying audience figures were higher in the afternoon and tough decisions needed to be made given depleted staff numbers.
The BBC also announced that they would be broadcasting the Welsh Government’s daily news conference live on BBC One Wales, from Monday 30 March.
The daily press conferences – between 12.30 and 1pm – are convened for the First Minister, Ministers and Public Health professionals to update on the current Coronavirus situation.
Health is a devolved issue in Wales meaning that the response to the coronavirus pandemic is being spearheaded by the Welsh Government
“The announcement that breakfast news bulletins from Wales will no longer be included on BBC One Wales is shocking,” Adam Price said.
“The lack of coverage of our country by British broadcasters is already an issue without this during the COVID-19 crisis. The decision needs to be overturned immediately.”
BBC Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies, however, wrote on Twitter that they were being forced to cut back because of the coronavirus forcing staff into self-isolation.
“Hundreds of my colleagues are working incredibly hard to sustain programming round the clock in the most challenging conditions we’ve ever faced,” he said.
“Each day they deliver 14 hours of live news across radio and tv in two languages – and full online services. I’m proud of them all.
“Staffing levels at the BBC have been affected across the UK, and we have to make hard calls about priorities. The audiences at 1.30, 6.30 and 10.30 are significantly higher.”
The announcement comes as BBC Wales sees unprecedented demand for its news output. More than 700,000 viewers are tuning into BBC Wales Today each day with the Newyddion team on S4C also attracting their biggest audiences of the year., the corporation said.

 Fifteen Welsh Labour MPs are urging UK ministers to state clearly when measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis apply to England only.
They warn "mixed messages" could mean people lose confidence in their actions and refuse to comply with their advice.
In a letter, the MPs highlight "confusion" over a business rates plan that did not specify Welsh ministers would have their own programme.
The UK government said it was working closely with ministers in Wales.
The letter, to the prime minister, was co-ordinated by Labour MP Chris Bryant.
They describe similar problems with an England-only NHS volunteering scheme.
It says many people have been left feeling "angry, anxious and exasperated" during the pandemic by the handling of some announcements.
Other signatories to the letter include Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi, Newport West MP Ruth Jones and Mark Tami, who represents Alyn and Deeside.
They write that they "warmly welcomed" the chancellor's announcement that tens of thousands of retail, leisure and hospitality firms would not pay business rates in the coming year.
But they say
 "at no point in his announcement did he make it clear that this was an England-only policy because business rates are devolved".
"As soon as the Welsh Government had clarity from the chancellor about additional funding for a scheme in Wales, the Welsh Government put in place a virtually identical policy, but it would have been better if this was clarified from the beginning," the MPs say.
"The same is true of the NHS volunteering scheme. We welcome it but we note that it never states that it is an England-only scheme, so constituents have been perplexed when they have tried to sign up."
The MPs warn: "The real danger is that such mixed messages mean people lose confidence in government's actions and refuse to comply with government advice."
I wonder however if there is a felling among Labour Unionist that this an opportunity to reverse the devolution settlemeny

LABOUR has called for the UK Government to ignore the devolution settlement and cut out the Scottish Government when tackling the coronavirus.

Speaking at Scottish Questions, Chris Elmore, the Labour whip, said funding for tackling Covid 19 should instead go direct to local councils.

The MP for Ogmore, who was standing in for the party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, made the point during Wednesday's Scottish Questions in the Commons.

Elmore said: “The coronavirus has shown that local services have been decimated by the Scottish Government. They've passed on four times the austerity to local councils that they have received themselves.

“Would you agree with me that any additional budget resourcing should be passed to Scottish local councils to help bolster already under pressure local services?”

It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.

Jack said: “Well, I do absolutely agree with him, but I must say, we've given an extra £2.7 billion in funding for Covid 19, over and above the budget measures announced this year. First of all an extra £1.3 billion in the comprehensive spending review then another £640 million followed on from that.

“And I think you're absolutely right. However, I have to stress that that is a matter for the Scottish Government under the devolution settlement.”

It is a exasperating to see on the above program that "Health Secretary Matt  Hancock "has  said he had also tested positive while for the virus along Boris Jounson with when he is only responsible for England.

Elmore  was presumably stating Labour Party Policy and whilst it is too early to come up with a conspiracy theory, among the Unionists and Westminster and Medium , they are clearly damaging the efforts of the Senedd simply by ignoring it 

I also find it For some reason the news that the Senedd’s  (Presiding) Officer) Llywydd Elin Jones has tested positive with coronavirus after ‘mild’ symptoms – and has told anyone with similar symptoms to self-isolate, has not been extensively covered by even the Welsh media let alone the UK .

Friday, 27 March 2020

The Financial aid to those affected with the crisis needs to cut the bureaucracy.

When I first heared that Universal Credit s a United Kingdom social security payment that was designed to simplify the benefits system . I thought that it was good idea

 It was to is replace and combining six benefits for working-age people who have a low household income: income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, and Income SupportChild Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit; and Housing Benefit.

But I also thought that it could help those like myself at the time who was moving from jobseekers allowance  and sickness benefit  and back as I had two major operations within a year to remove a tumour on my pituitary organ which whilst not Brain Surgery was pretty damn closee.

I involve a long time on the phone  giving the same information again and again  and then claiming Council Tax benefit again .

SO it thought Universal Credit great it wil mean just a simple change at my local jobcentre.

I never did go on to Universal Credit as I reached pensionable age before it was introduced in my region, but i understand that the bureaucracy is even worse.

Now we have thousands of people because of the coronavirus , either finding themselves unemployed, moving back into employment with a diffrent employer, or worse getting sick.

To be fair Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a number of measures to aid those who have found themselves with no or much less  income , but  we already know that many are experiencing problems , when ringing to make such a claim, and many may not have access to claim online  and now with the likes of Libaries closing have no alternative outlet.

It is important that we cut the bureaucracy for those making a claim even if it sees a minority cheating the system.

These are unknown and dark times , hopefully we will pull through not only healthwise but financially as well.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Tories plan to cut Welsh MPs but MPs in England.

Wales is still set to lose around eight of its MPs despite plans to make the House of Commons smaller being dropped
The total number of MPs was to fall from 650 to 600, with Wales having 31 rather than the current 40 MPs.
Now UK ministers say they want to keep the current number of MPs, due to "a greater workload" following Brexit. Though cynics may think it is due to the number of Tory MPs who would face loosing their seats especially ones gained in last years general election
The BBC report that
Ministers are pressing ahead with creating constituencies with a near-equal numbers of voters, leaving Wales with around 32 seats, it is estimated.
David Cameron had proposed the original idea to shrink the Commons in 2012, when he was prime minister, to reduce the cost of politics.
But there was considerable opposition to the plans, with one Welsh Conservative MP who has since left Parliament calling them "anti-democratic"Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said in a written statement that following the UK's departure from the EU Parliament will be taking on more work and, therefore, a reduction in the number of MPs was no longer needed.
Equalising the numbers of voters in constituencies will still lead to a significant redrawing of the electoral map and see some safe seats transformed into marginals, and vice versa, throughout the UK.
Ministers will also call for constituency boundary reviews to take place every eight years instead of every five.
The Boundary Commission will be asked to draw up a new map of constituencies in a review that is due to begin in early 2021.

Now there is a strong argument to reduce the number of Welsh MPs due to devolution, but since the introduction English votes for English laws (EVEL) , where only English MPs can vote on areas that have been devolved  it means that there are Grey areas where such votes have an indirect effect on  the devolved legislatures.

Also we still need a strong Welsh voice in Westminster something that was undermined at the last election by English Tories parachuted into Welsh seats, and although they may well  put their consistences first, it is unlikely they even understand the concept of a Welsh National Interest.

It may also be an attack on the concept of devolution , with those wishing to abolish it arguing that we are losing our voice .

Personally I do not want to send any MPs to Westminster  , but if we are to remain as part of the Union, we need to have our interests defended in Westminster not weakened.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Llywedd test positive for virus suggests number of cases much higher than reported.

For some reason the news that the Senedd’s  (Presiding) Officer) Llywydd Elin Jones has tested positive with coronavirus after ‘mild’ symptoms – and has told anyone with similar symptoms to self-isolate, has not been extensively covered by even the Welsh media let alone the UK 
“I started my symptoms last Thursday evening and have been in self-isolation at home since then,” she said.
“My symptoms have been very mild – a new cough, slight tightness of the chest and fatigue. The symptoms were so slight I could easily have ignored them and persuaded myself I was of no risk to anyone.
“I’m so glad that I heeded the advice or I could have been walking around in Ceredigion and spreading the virus. The lesson from my experience is clear – even with the mildest of symptoms – self isolate. Even seek to self-isolate within your home if you can. Don’t ignore any symptoms.
“Never for one moment did I think my result would be positive. I had fully expected to be tested negative so I could chair Senedd proceedings today.
“I continue to be in self-isolation and to follow guidelines. That’s all we can do. Follow guidelines.
“Keep safe all and thank you to all those in our communities and in decision-making positions who are working to tackle and defeat this virus. My best wishes to you all.”
I wish Elin a speedy recovery , but it has increased my suspicion that the number of cases are much higher than reported, with people who are getting slight  symptoms and not reporting them (or being unable to because the lines are full) and hopefully self treating and self isolating.

Elin was tested how many with the symptoms may have not been

 New legislation giving Welsh ministers sweeping powers to act on coronavirus are reasonable and proportionate, Wales' health minister has said.Vaughan Gething said the law was needed "to protect life and the nation's public health".
The assembly gave its formal approval to the UK parliament bill on Tuesday, with only 15 AMs present.
AMs passed a motion giving their consent to the law without a vote. The bill is expected to be passed swiftly by parliament by Thursday.
Numbers in the assembly chamber were severely reduced after the UK announced strict new curbs to everyday life.Ahead of the debate First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Senedd the restrictions were needed to protect the NHS.Although there was no opposition expressed to the bill, AMs from across the political spectrum expressed unease at its scope and called for ministers to report regularly on the use of the powers.
Although it is UK legislation, the provisions for Wales mean AMs had to give their formal permission through a legislative consent motion..
The UK Parliament should also follow suit with the number of MPs meeting subjected to a Pro Rata system .
Clearly though some may be reluctant to admit it we need not only leadership but also scrutiny from out elected officials, 
However one wonders if the House of Lords is on lockdown , or are Peers continuing to turn up and taking their attendance allowance even if they (as many normality do) have no intention in actually doing any work.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

It's appropriate to remember the Village of Eyam and its sacrifice.

As we face Lockdown it is  a very apt time to remember the village of a mall village in Derbyshire called Eyam, and  the heroic sacrifice made by its villagers to arrest the spread of infection.
The bubonic plague was a much feared disease in mediaeval Europe. Known as the ‘black death’, it turned victim’s skin to patches of black as the flesh rotted within. This was accompanied by inflamed glands or 'buboes', compulsive vomiting, splitting headache and eventually death. When the disease first took epidemic proportions between 1346 and 1353, it wiped out an estimated 100 million people from the face of the earth, or nearly one-fourth of the world population. The bubonic plague broke again in London in 1665–66, and although smaller in scale compared to the 14th century outbreak, it still claimed some 100,000 lives in London alone.

The history of the plague in the village began in 1665 when a flea-infested bundle of cloth arrived from London for the local tailor.[13] Within a week his assistant George Vicars was dead and more began dying in the household soon after.[14]
As the disease spread, the villagers turned for leadership to their rector, the Reverend William Mompesson, and the ejected Puritan minister Thomas Stanley.
The fact that two ministers who may well have been fundamentally opposed to each other  co-operated speaks volumes
 They introduced a number of precautions to slow the spread of the illness from May 1666. The measures included the arrangement that families were to bury their own dead and relocation of church services to the natural amphitheatre of Cucklett Delphallowing villagers to separate themselves and so reducing the risk of infection. Perhaps the best-known decision was to quarantine the entire village to prevent further spread of the disease.
The plague ran its course over 14 months and one account states that it killed at least 260 villagers, with only 83 surviving out of a population of 350.[14] That figure has been challenged on a number of occasions, with alternative figures of 430 survivors from a population of around 800 being given.[14] The church in Eyam has a record of 273 individuals who were victims of the plague.[16]
Survival among those affected appeared random, as many who remained alive had had close contact with those who died but never caught the disease. For example, Elizabeth Hancock was uninfected despite burying six children and her husband in eight days. The graves are known as the Riley graves after the farm where they lived] The unofficial village gravedigger, Marshall Howe, also survived, despite handling many infected bodies.
The village's actions prevented the disease from moving into surrounding areas.

So don't moan, about self isolation and lock down , but inform others of what services are  available  and how to use them  ,

Like new bus and rail timetables,
New Pharmacy open Hours and how to use them.
Business that have closed or operating differently.

Stay at Home and Stay Safe.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Lee Waters AM accuses Plaid of Playing Party Politics by Playing Party Politics.

I am not convinced of the argument for a "National" Government either or /both in Westminster or the Senedd.

In both the current government are failing the people of Wales and any National government would still be largely led by those already in place and we need an opposition to point out these failings and to offer alternatives.

Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland seems to be the only one to be providing leadership and whilst she has he critics looks to be streets and days ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Welsh First  Mark Drakeford.

So should the opposition Parties not point out these failings ?

Not according to Welsh Labour AM's.

These aren't straightforward issues. Through this whole crisis Plaid have been seeking political advantage, rather than coming together as a nation. Shame on them.
Quote Tweet
Adam Price
Sad to say but it is astounding that the First Minister doesn't even know if he has the power to close caravan parks. The Welsh Government is slow and tentative when we need them to be swift and decisive. A serious failure of leadership at such a critical time. #PoliticsWales
Suffice to say the replies, seem to not entiterly agree witn Mar Waters

Replying to
Hardly seen or heard from
. He may as well be invisible. And as
says, just because it’s a crisis doesn’t mean you’re not held to account. If anything, it’s at times of crises that governments are rightly held more accountable!
1 more reply

Replying to
So should everyone just be quiet if they think Labour's response has been awful because anythinh else is "taking political advantage"?
2 more replies

Replying to
Shut up Lee. Plaid are as frustrated as the people of Wales at the inaction of both governments. Why didn't Welsh gov forsee the closing of schools would bring people into rural areas of Wales and shut us down. How many deaths will be caused because it wasn't done

Replying to
You are the government here, you are accountable. If Boris had come out with your 'coming together as a nation' line I'd imagine your tune would be rightly different.

Replying to
No Lee, through this whole crisis Plaid have voiced the concerns of many Welsh citizens.....remember them? The people you were elected to represent and PROTECT! I don’t doubt it’s hard to govern at times of crisis but that doesn’t mean you are free from scrutiny.

Replying to
Criticism and opposition, as usual, cast as divisive nationalism and point scoring. Labour will erode Welsh Democracy to the point that even the most ardent indy supporters won't be arsed to fight for it when the abolish referendum comes.

Replying to
"Making party political points in a crisis is awful, I'm going to explain that by making a party political point"

We are facing a crisis and our governments at Westminster and at te Senedd are failing us with a slow and incoherent .

Mark Drakeford has been given the opportunityto lead us at this time instead we find him not knowing whether he has the powers or is "considering using them".

Instead he simply follows the Westminster pattern and waiting for Boris Johnson to make his decisions for him.

It may indeed be playing party politics to point this out, but that does make it wrong.