1. Twitter twaddle

    An official investigation may be about to be launched into the activities of bloggers who use the internet, Wales Eye can reveal.

    One particular Welsh blogger has come to the attention of the authorities.

    Royston Jones, who uses the pseudonym Jac o’ the North, is known for his outspoken views, which some experts believe could be libellous.

    Now a special police inquiry is underway into possible breaches in the law generally.

    The news comes as a leading lawyer, and expert in social media cases, stressed that the laws of libel apply to statements on the internet as with all other publications.

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    Nigel Jones of JMD Law in Cardiff is a libel lawyer who three years ago successfully prosecuted the first social media case in the UK.

    Mr Jones, who examines reports and acts for Wales Eye in legal actions, said:  "Twitter is a public forum, just like publishing a newspaper article or broadcasting an item on the television, and the laws of libel apply"

    UK journalist told Wales Eye:"I will not put anything on Twitter which I am not prepared to broadcast."

    Politicians also use Twitter to publicise media conferences and policy announcements.

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    But statements on Twitter from Royston Jones, who describes himself as a right of centre nationalist, are seen as different and have now formed the focus of the inquiry.

    One, about a satirical Wales Eye report written by a columnist (see ), is being scrutinised.

    An observer who has followed Mr Jones’ work closely said:  "This is the poisonous bile of a conservative - with a small ‘c’ - nationalist."

    Published statements by him last year about disabled people and the paralympics have also proved controversial.

    A record number of 38 Welsh athletes were selected for team GB in the 2012 paralympics, winning 14 medals.

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    More than 100 Welsh athletes were given an official send-off in Cardiff bay, before the Special Olympics at Bath, which takes place every four years and is designed for people with learning difficulties.

    The equal treatment of disabled people is viewed by commentators as a progressive mark of advanced countries. 

    But one of the lines by Mr Jones which caused particular offence was:  "Am I alone in thinking there’s an element of a Victorian freak show in the Paralympics?

    The attorney general’s office issue about five advisory warnings a year a year although there were 10 last year due to high-profile court cases.

    These have now been put into formal guidance.

    At the time Mr Grieve said:  "Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post.

    "This is not about telling people what they can or cannot talk about on social media.

    "Quite the opposite in fact – it’s designed to help facilitate commentary in a lawful way."

    Advisory warnings were circulated last year in relation to cases such as the murder of Tia Sharp, the court martial of Sergeant Danny Nightingale and the arrest of Christopher Jefferies in Bristol.

    Broadcasters like the BBC have their own social media guidelines, although these are not always followed.

    Perhaps all bloggers should have them.

     
  2. Phone message

    Overheard by Brenig Davies in Cardiff bay as the Welsh First Minister talks to his Labour AMs about the assembly election.

    "We all know that the next Welsh assembly election will soon be upon us.

    "In fact it is on May 5 2016.

    "This means that as of this month we are entering the final phase of government.

    (Whispers) er, no, hang on…”

    "Anyway (coughs) there is much to be learned from our hard work over the past few years.

    "And much to be proud of - we have the same strong team, oh, apart from a couple like Alun, who I, er, never really liked anyway because he, er, kept nagging me to put this race track thing in his constituency.

    "Where was I?

    "Oh, yes… (slips hand in inside jacket pocket) I often reflect on the celebrated character in, er, the famous television series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - the boss.

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    "I used to enjoy watching the programme with Mrs CJ when I was a young politician in Bridgend.

    "Oh, how I enjoyed those days (wistfully).

    "Meeting, er, ordinary people in shops, and at bus stops and things.

    "Do you remember that scene in Reggie Perrin when the chairs farted?

    "We found that very funny.

    "Anyway, er , (coughs again) where was I?

    "Oh yes - this boss character was also CJ in fact.

    "He was very keen to keep on ‘red’ with his telephone.

    "So it occured to me, er, as I sat in my special first minister’s bath, this is a fine metaphor for the task ahead.

    "We must constantly be on ‘red alert’. 

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    "You will never find me slouching at the assembly despatch box.

    "Oh, no.

    "The same must apply to us all in everything we do, and more importantly what we say, (whispers again) er, no that’s not right.

    "Anyway, concentrate on what you say, like I always do.

    "We must be on ‘red’ and we must at all times reflect on our ‘red’ policies.

    "Just because we all know we will be elected and will always be the biggest boys and girls in the play ground, er, doesn’t mean (gets tangled up in words) we should go around beating everybody else up.

    "We all remember, and must quote my predecessor Saint Rhodri’s cliche, er, statement, that there should be ‘clear red water’ between Welsh Labour and ‘new Labour ‘.

    "At all times we must be sincere, like he, um, was, and avoid cliches, er, statements, like he, er, did.

    (Whispers once more) as a lawyer, er, I must always choose my words carefully.

    "We must keep a straight face at all times on the door-step, er, when talking to ordinary people we do not like to meet normally, and when being interviewed in the media - except for Edwina. 

    "I know there has been a bit of a fuss recently (coughs once more) about her not doing live interviews on the radio or telly for three years.

    "But it, er, seems fair enough to me.

    "She has, after all, been seen by us all in the canteen right from the beginning.

    "Anyway those interviews are nasty things, where they, er, ask you horrible questions.

    "I didn’t get where I am today by answering horrible questions.

    "Oh, no.

    "So, er, repeat after me - ‘I’m with CJ and I’m on red!’"

    This is the first in a series when Brenig Davies will report conversations by political parties he overheard in the Senedd.

     
  3. The real deal

    A leading rugby coach in Wales has warned it will take a long time for the game to reap any rewards from the much-trumpeted ‘peace deal’ with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) which was struck this week, it can be revealed.

    After a two-year feud, and on the eve of the new season, the WRU and the four regions finally signed a six-year agreement worth £60 million.

    The contract guarantees the regions an index-linked payment of £6.7 million every year to share, as their reward for handing over players to Wales coach Warren Gatland.

    An additional £3.3 million will be spent each year on ‘dual contracts’ for 10 to 15 leading players.

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    Apart from being designed to boost the numbers available to Mr Gatland, the wage payments will be split - with the WRU paying 60 per cent and the regions contributing 40 per cent.

    It may mean an end to the dispute in public, but still no clear end to the mutual mistrust and suspicion.

    To describe it as a peace deal, as some media outlets have done, is to misjudge the mood on either side.

    The depth of the bitterness was shown when we revealed how the regions were at one stage considering going their own way (see ).

    Both the WRU and the regions held press conferences to outline the deal, but unity was conspicuous by its absence.

    The two sides did not share a platform and while the regions issued a general invitation to the media to attend their event, the WRU hand-picked only certain journalists they felt could be trusted to give a favourable slant to the outcome.

    At both briefings it was far more telling what was said in private conversations than in public.

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    The long history of rugby in Wales has been at stake but the regions have questioned the governing body’s intransigence and claimed the deal signed is the same one that was on the table 18 months before.

    WRU officials spoke of alleged abuse towards staff and their families.

    Even some of the details supposedly agreed on are not clear.

    The regions wanted players who go to play in France or England no longer to be picked for Wales by Mr Gatland.

    This might prove a weighty deterrent.

    It has been agreed in principle, but Mr Gatland has a get-out clause, allowing him to continue picking a player who jets off to play near the med if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.

    These are not clearly defined.

    Likewise, the casting vote on the professional game board – the body that represents both sides – has been given back to the independent chairman, Sir Wyn Williams.

    But again, there are exceptions to this casting vote that are loosely specified as ‘reserved matters’.

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    Whatever happens, Lyn Jones, the hugely-experienced current Newport Gwent Dragons coach, believes the agreement has been made too late to deal with the major concern of recent years – the flow of players to France and England.

    The coach felt he was close to re-signing the Wales forward Luke Charteris earlier this year, a player who had moved to France.

    In the end, the uncertainty over finances meant the deal collapsed and the player remains in France.

    Mr Jones told Wales Eye: "This agreement has landed about eight months too late to keep Jonathan Davies in Wales, or bring Dan Lydiate or Luke Charteris back from France.

    "The lateness of the agreement means that any returns have been put back by at least 12 months.

    "We have planted lots of seeds but it doesn’t happen overnight.

    "We are developing tomorrow’s stars.

    "Some improved performances will lead to victories and some will lead to losses, but what’s important is to continue the plan.

    "I just hope the new agreement allows the Welsh regions to be far more competitive in all forms of competition."

    The new Welsh rugby season starts again on Friday night.

    But the traditional Welsh national sport of bickering about rugby has continued all summer.

     

     
  4. 07:09

    Tags: comment

    Organ recital

    Latest circulation figures for key Welsh newspapers have been greeted with dismay by journalists. with numbers showing the print industry in almost terminal decline.

    The two morning newspapers in Wales have seen readership figures collapse.

    The Western Mail, based in Cardiff, sold just over 21,000 print editions daily, a drop of 3.6 per cent on last month and 9.6 per cent on the year.

    The Daily Post, which is stronger in north Wales, and owned by the same group, Trinity Mirror, is performing only slightly better.

    It is selling more than 26,000 copies a day, which is down 0.5 per cent compared with last month and a fall of 4.5 per cent on the year.

    Cardiff’s evening newspaper the South Wales Echo, which covers Wales’ biggest urban area and many of the south Wales valleys, used to be the biggest selling newspaper based in the country.

    Today only 21,00 copies of the paper are being sold - sales which have plunged 0.9 per cent in a month and 19.2 per cent over the year.

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    All newspapers have been hit, but the Wales on Sunday and South Wales Argus saw the biggest falls.

    The Wales on Sunday, based in Cardiff and also owned by Trinity Mirror, saw sales dipping under 15,000 - down 5.3 per cent on the month and 32.9 per cent on the year.

    The figures for the South Wales Argus in Newport and Evening Post in Swansea are for the month of June.

    The Evening Post sold more than 28,000 copies down nearly 15 per cent on the previous year, and the Argus sold just over 13,000 copies - down a staggering 33 per cent on June last year.

    One journalist told Wales Eye:  "I’ve just done a little calculation.

    "If these papers keep declining at these rates, in five years, their sales will be: SW Echo - 7,300 copies; W Mail - 12,600; Wales on Sunday - 3,200; Argus - 1,700.

    "Completely unsustainable."

    Another said:  "I don’t know how much longer this can go on.

    "We are doing our level best but there is such an emphasis by our management on ‘big’ stories which might sell newspapers that basic stuff like courts and tribunals are not being covered in the way they were.

    "We are told the future lies in digital versions of our stories like for tablets and mobiles - so that’s where the investment goes."

    A digital future - perhaps Wales Eye can lead the way.

     
  5. Being careful

    Lives are being put at risk by a "catastrophic" failure of social services care in mid Wales, according to experts, Wales Eye can reveal.

    A doctor from Machynlleth has alerted a senior politician to the scale of the crisis in supporting some patients within their own homes.

    The Powys council contract to provide care for vulnerable people has been transferred to specialist companies but the handover has been described as "chaotic".

    The police have been called in to investigate.

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    Now the doctor at Machynlleth health centre has written a furious letter to his assembly member, which has been leaked to Wales Eye.

    The doctor, Alan Woodall, describes the inadequate standard in care for one of his patients.

    In the letter Mr Woodall says the "mismanagement" of the contract-handover should be compared to the scandal at Stafford hospital, where a public inquiry was announced after the deaths of patients.

    His patent, an elderly woman, was due to be released from hospital in mid Wales  but because support in her own home was not put in place she had to be returned to the ward.

    Mr Woodall writes:  "The lady actually arrived at home only to find the contracted care agency, Aber Care (sic), notified her then that they could not supply any carer staff.

    "The only recourse was to re-admit this lady back to hospital where she is extremely distressed and I believe her health is suffering as a result."

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    Russell George, AM, is told by the doctor in his letter, that Powys council have been negligent.

    He writes:  "Had I been as negligent as it appears to be that the contracting managers in the council have been, I think I would fully expect to be held accountable to the General Medical Council for such failures in discharge of my duties.”

    In May it was announced four companies, among them Abacare, were taking over the contract to supply services in Powys, provided by about 20 firms as part of the council’s cost-cutting measures.

    But police were called in over allegations of sabotage in the handover of  the care services.

    The council said it believed some companies which lost out on contracts caused deliberate problems in the handover.

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    Darren Mayor, Powys council’s cabinet member responsible for adult care, said : “We have seen cases where key-safe numbers have been changed. so new providers cannot access a property, vital paperwork and care plans removed from a client’s home and lifting equipment deliberately left uncharged leaving it useless.
     
    “We have cases of disruption of visits so that calls to clients are late and cases of deliberate duplicate visits to cause confusion and uncertainty.
     
    "The actions are an attempt to hamper the smooth change-over of providers but worst of all they jeopardise the well-being of our most vulnerable clients."
     

    Helen Lapworth, of Llanidloes, herself a former care worker whose father-in- law is receiving care, believes people are being let down.

    She said: “It is absolute chaos out there and someone could die.

    “The vulnerable elderly are being put at huge risk because in some cases people do not have the right information about them on either their care plan or the medication they require.

    "It is putting people’s lives at risk.

    "It beggar’s belief.

    Care in the community was not meant to be this way.

     
     
  6. Mixed messages

    Brenig Davies ponders what might really be happening in the corridors of power.

    The Welsh government’s version of  ‘it’s the economy stupid’: “It’s Westminster, stupid” - sent in by Mr C Jones of Cardiff bay.

    Welsh Conservative version of  ‘I simply can’t keep quiet’:  “It’s me again - RT” - sent in by Mr A Davies of Cowbridge.

    Welsh version of  ‘the valleys are quite beautiful’:  “We are blessed with European Union (EU) funding” - sent in by Mr Frank Candour of Newport.

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    Welsh government version of  ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’:  “Mr Lewis, you were saying?” - sent in by Mr Ed Master of Bridgend.

    Welsh government version of  ‘please allow me to explain myself’:  “Edwina, it’s the BBC for you” - sent in by Ms A Countable of Wrexham.

    Welsh version of  ‘we always holiday abroad’:  “I’m fine with Trecco bay” - sent in by Mr P Cawl of Porth.

    Welsh government version of  ‘please forgive me’:  “Don’t mention it to the media” - sent in by Mr O Mission of Tumble, near Swansea.

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    Welsh government version of  ‘let’s face it’:  “Tax-raising powers? Now we ARE in trouble” - sent in by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), full name and address supplied.

    Welsh government version of  ‘community engagement’:  “Oh no, not Community First again” - sent in by Ms Grant of Penywaun.

    Welsh government version of  ‘it’s time to bridge the divide between north and south’:  “The M4 black route will make a major contribution to the whole Welsh economy” - sent in by Mr A Racer of Cardiff.

    South Wales version of  ‘I’m from Brighton, well Hove actually’:  “I’m from Barry, well West End actually” - sent in by Mr C Breeze of Barry.

    Welsh version of  ‘but you know I love you, darling’:  “but darling, Aberavon is just a stone’s throw from Copenhagen” - sent in by Ms EU Grant of Brussels.

    Welsh version of  ’once we have have decided on a course of action we immediately get on with it’:  "Once we have decided on a course of action we immediately form a committee" - sent in by Mr Con Sult of Acton (Chair of London Welsh Committee).

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    Welsh version of ‘my 70 year-old father enjoys listening to the Today programme’: "My 7 year old grandson enjoys watching Wales Today" - sent in by Ms B Casting of Llandaff.

    Welsh version of  ’we will have a lot of responsibility’:  "Silk will give us much more responsibility, which is a real worry" - sent in by Mr A Political of Cardiff.

    Welsh version of  ’the return of Grammar schools will be a sure vote-winner’: "Your judgement can always be relied on, RT" - sent in by Ms Right Wing of Bridgend.

    Welsh version of ‘independence is our long-term goal’: "I represent Plaid Cymru and BT infinity"  - sent in by Mr Votefor ap Ratt of Angelsey.

    Welsh version of ‘it’s difficult to be critical of Liberal Democrat AMs’:  "It’s not difficult to be critical of Liberal Democrat peers" - sent in by Mr SD Party of Swansea.

    Welsh version of ‘investment in our airport is beginning to take off’:  "It’s a shame there aren’t enough passengers" - sent in by Mr Solo Flyer of St Athan.

    Welsh version of ‘fracking in the Vale will increase employment’: "fracking in the Vale will increase pollution" - sent in by Ms Green Potato of Porth.

    Welsh version of ‘Oh my God!  The new fleet of ambulances will require extra parking space in A & E’: "Oh my God! The new fleet of ambulances will increase A&E waiting times" - sent in by Mr Long Wait of Port Talbot.

     

    Wales Eye reserve the right to cut furiously any future contributions - especially those from politicians.

     
  7. Mind over matter

    A Welsh teenager recovering from severe mental problems has contacted the secretary of state for Wales about reforming her controversial support service, we can reveal.

    Seventeen year old Mair Elliot from Pembrokeshire has emailed her local assembly member about the proposed changes, and copied in the Welsh secretary.

    Mair’s statement is addressed to the chief executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Tegryn Jones, and Paul Davies, assembly member for Preseli Pembrokeshire.

    She has also sent a copy to the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb.

    It comes as the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Wales undergo a major inquiry.

    Mair and her mother Tracy gave evidence to the inquiry in May.

    Tracy has spoken of how she felt excluded by CAMHS as she attempted to help her daughter.

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    Mair, of Camrose, was at one point suicidal but her mother was not given basic information such as whether kitchen knives should be locked away (see  )

    Mair has now offered to work with the national park in Pembrokeshire to establish a project helping young people with mental health problems.

    "As a young person recovering from mental health problems I see a need for this type of project in Pembrokeshire as there are no other projects similar in the area,"  she wrote.
     
    "The evidence that exposure to the natural environment can promote recovery in young people with mental health problems is overwhelming, and therefore (it) could greatly benefit the area.
     
    "I would like to work with Pembrokeshire national park and other parties willing to help in establishing such a project.
     
    "Please could we meet to discuss further, this is something I am very passionate about.
     
    "Thank you, Diolch.
      
    Mair Elliott, age 17 (18 in January)”.
     
    Mental health issues are an enormous problem across Britain, and a drain on much-needed resources.
     
    About one in four people suffers a mental health problem at some time in their lives.
     
    Less than a third of these receive any treatment at all.
     
    The whole system is in crisis, according to some experts.
     
    This huge failure is also costly.
     
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    According to the King’s Fund, a think-tank, it costs the National Health Service (NHS) between £8billion and £13 billion a year, and the price to the British economy is more than £100 billion a year.
     
    But the NHS spend just £11.3 billion on the problem.
     
    Recent cuts in health spending have fallen hardest on mental-health patients, just as doctors say demand is rising.
     
    The number of NHS beds for patients with mental illness has declined by over 30 per cent since 2003.
     
    Many facilities are now full and as a result patients are having to travel long distances for care, as Mair Elliott did when she attended the Royal Maudsley hospital in London for three and a half months.
     
    In London a mental-health centre has discharged patients to bed-and-breakfast hotels.
     
    There are also terrible tragedies associated with mental illness.
     
    The cases that hit the headlines are those where people with mental illness have attacked others, sometimes complete strangers.
     
    But the vast number of cases involve people with severe mental illness harming themselves, or taking their own lives, and these receive little attention.
     
    On average men with mental-health problems die 20 years earlier than those without them.
     
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    In Wales the Conservative assembly member and deputy presiding officer, David Melding, has spoken eloquently of his battle with anxiety and depression.
     
    But elsewhere the picture is less encouraging and mental illness is often an ignored condition.
     
    It is an intriguing insight into how policy is formulated in Wales, when the actions of one teenager who has been hospitalised with mental health problems, could make a profound difference, while politicians simply hold an inquiry.
     
  8. On the buses 2

    A former driver on a controversial subsidised bus service to the biggest airport in Wales has told how he would use special tablets and strong coffee to stay awake, Wales Eye can disclose.

    The driver has revealed how he had to use the combination to combat fatigue and sleepiness.

    Another rota was brought in by the new operator who consulted drivers,  but they believe their wages are so low, a shift pattern was chosen to make up take-home pay.

    The new rota has been leaked to Wales Eye.

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    It shows how drivers are sometimes given a day off only after a late shift and before an early start.

    The rest day is then used to recuperate from the previous late shift and prepare for the next early one.

    Drivers were offered a rota that was based on 17 drivers and 40 hours work per week.
     
    However they chose a rota based on only 12 drivers to support their wages.
     
    Even though the shift pattern is more demanding it offered them the opportunity to make up their take-home pay through regular overtime.
     

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    The bus service is run by New Adventure Travel (NAT) who issued the rota to drivers and are now in charge of it, as first disclosed by Wales Eye.

    NAT have been operating the service for just over a week, after being awarded the new contract.

    It was launched with great fanfare last year by the Welsh government in an apparent attempt to boost the numbers flying from the beleaguered airport.

    But Wales Eye reported how the previous operators, First Cymru, paid some drivers below the living wage the Welsh government had themselves endorsed (see )

    Among the incentives for drivers was ‘free’ uniforms.

    Details of the change-over in contract from First Cymru to NAT were revealed by Wales Eye on July 18 but only reported by mainstream media outlets 11 days later (see once the Welsh government had formally released the news.

    But deep unhappiness remains about the new operator.

    One driver said:  "We give an important service for the public, which has been publicly attacked."

    "Morale is rock bottom."

    A former driver told Wales Eye how he had to take special pills to keep his mind on the job under the previous contract-holders.

    "Drivers were already reporting fighting fatigue and sleepiness under the old rota,"  he said.

    "I had to use ProPlus tablets to try and stay alert, and drank copious amounts of strong coffee."

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    But apart from reports of ways to ward off drowsiness among some drivers previously, pay rates have been criticised.

    Under First Cymru some drivers were paid just £7.50 an hour initially on the service. 

    Yet the Welsh Government had formally recognised the Living Wage which was set 15p an hour higher.

    A public transport commentator Chris Ware said:  "As drivers on a prestige, Welsh government-sponsored service like (the T9) they were asked by their employers to give a lot of added value to their customer service duties, so that a first class impression would be created with passengers to and from all parts of the world.

    "In addition, the future of the T9 service would be secured.

    "The drivers worked extremely hard to achieve this end and consistently received praise and appreciation from the passengers.

    "They acted not only as drivers, but as ambassadors for Wales, tourist guides and hotel advisers!"

    The bus service - which receives a subsidy of hundreds of thousands of pounds in public money - was launched last summer by Edwina Hart, AM, the Welsh business minister.

    She was joined by a host of dignitaries.

    Ms Hart rarely speaks to the media and Wales Eye revealed how she had not granted a live broadcast interview for more than three years (see ).

    But in a press release at the time she said:  “The Welsh Government’s vision for the development of Cardiff Airport includes making it easier for passengers to travel to and from the airport using public transport.

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    When the bus service was unveiled she added:  "This service provides a modern, convenient and comfortable link to the city centre at a competitive price.”

    But the service and the airport itself have hit the headlines.

    On Friday it was announced the chief executive of the airport was stepping down.

    Jon Horne was appointed a week after the airport was bought for £52m by the Welsh government in March last year, but will leave the role in a week’s time amid concerns about passenger numbers.

    The Scottish government paid £1 for Prestwick airport which was similarly troubled.

    It has been reported that in March this year, the airport saw a nine per cent increase in the number of passengers since being taken over, although this rise has been from a very low base. 

    There are still deep worries about the numbers who use the airport with one passenger describing it as a "wasteland."

    Mr Horne said: "There is still much work to be done, but I have agreed with the chairman that a new perspective will be beneficial for the next stage of development and as such I have concluded my executive involvement."

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    In February a review by the transport expert, Professor Stuart Cole, found that the subsidised bus service has averaged fewer than four passengers a journey since it was launched.

    It has been described as a ‘ghost bus’ and provision of the service will be reduced from every 20 minutes to every half hour in Winter months.

    Passenger numbers at the airport itself have collapsed in the last few years.

    They peaked at two million seven years ago, but in 2012 were just over a million, which was a drop of more than 200,000 in a year.

    Speaking after the government announced the nationalisation deal, the Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones said it was vital the number of passengers increased.

    Perhaps a choice of new rotas for drivers so they will not have to take pills to stay awake like the old days, might do the trick.  
     
  9. Fenced in

    Anger is growing among Cardiff traders over a huge security fence in the city centre to protect world leaders at the NATO summit, during a fleeting visit to the Welsh capital, Wales Eye can reveal.

    Schools and a hospital unit will have to be shut for the duration of the event.

    A diversion for drivers in Cardiff has been put in place and will remain for the two-day lockdown.

    The fence was built around two city centre venues - the castle and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama - as well as through Bute park.

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    But the expensive metal structure is only designed for a ‘working dinner’ on the first evening of the NATO summit, when the politicians and their entourage descend on the city for a few hours.

    As well as Cardiff castle and the Royal Welsh college, another venue is believed to be the Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Duncan, which will be docked in Cardiff bay during the summit at the Celtic Manor hotel outside Newport on September 4 and 5.

    Outraged drivers in Cardiff have flooded social media sites with complaints about the security measures which caused rush-hour chaos.

    Some reported delays of up to an hour in long queues as they struggled to get through the city and reach areas just outside the centre, such as Gabalfa, Pontcanna and Canton.

    Major changes in bus timetables will last until after the Summit.

    The council said the fence is due to the "unique security requirements" of the summit and not determined by them.

    A spokesman said: "We will continue to work with our partners to minimise disruption to businesses, residents and transport providers".

    The fence has been dubbed a ‘ring of steel’ by media commentators. 

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    Yellow metal barriers have also been erected on some of Cardiff’s main shopping streets.

    A South Wales police spokesman said: "The yellow steel barriers have been installed in Queen street as part of the security measures for the NATO 2014 summit.

    "They are now in their final position in preparation for the event, which is taking place between September 4 and 5."

    Around 40 schools in Cardiff are likely to be hit by early finishes, closures or other changes.

    Some 55 schools will be open as usual, but as significant traffic disruption and delays are expected many of them have decided to close earlier. 

    At least five schools in Cardiff will be shut to pupils, with some telling council officials they will be holding inset days.

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    But children and their families will also face severe disruption in more than 30 other schools as opening hours will alter over the duration of the event - and some are even closing early on the Wednesday before.

    Others will be closed to certain groups of pupils, or will not be holding after-school clubs.

    Meanwhile it has been confirmed the two-day event will also affect hospital services in Wales.

    The minor injuries unit in Barry is to close for the duration of the summit.

    Alice Casey, the chief operating Officer for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: "The team has looked at a number of options to try and keep the minor injuries unit (MIU) at Barry hospital open over these few days but unfortunately it has not been possible.

    "The health board would like to apologise to anyone affected by these steps but would reassure them that the staff will be back in the unit on September 8."

    The news comes as traders in Cardiff issue strong complaints the fence has badly affected them.

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    For Danny Rees of a pleasure boat operation on the river Taff which brings passengers to and from Cardiff bay, a gap in the fence for his customers was put in the wrong place, preventing them reaching the boat at a key entrance.

    "Our takings are definitely down on what they should be at this time of year," Mr Rees of the Princess Katherine told Wales Eye.

    "The fence is quite intimidating for our customers.

    "95 per cent come down the steps by our sign but they had only put a gap in the fence for the level path, so I asked them to remove another panel for customers where they normally come to us".

    The overall security operation will cost more than £50 million from the public purse.

    Officials refuse to breakdown the price of security for the NATO summit, but it will cost traders in Cardiff many millions of pounds.

    That is a lot of money to ‘put Wales on the map’.

     
  10. Keeping it in the family

    A political commentator has attacked the waste of public money in Wales’ biggest council when top of the list is a department run for much of the time by his own daughter, Wales Eye can reveal.
     
    Ramon Corria took to social media to condemn "snouts in the trough” when thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been used to pay temporary staff in Cardiff council.
     
    17 out of 24 positions were in the children’s services department where eight people earned more than £400 a day, and one received up to £750.
     
    Among the roles was three service managers and seven team managers.
     
    But for part of the period they were employed, the department was run by his daughter, the Labour councillor for Llandaff North, Siobhan Corria.
     
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    She was a council cabinet member with responsibility for children’s sevices from July last year until February.
     
    Ms Corria joined Action for Children in controversial circumstances after just seven months and spoke of taking an "exciting new role".
     
    The charity has received a contract from the council worth £770,000.
     
    Ms Corria was told to step down from the cabinet because of a potential conflict of interest.
     
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    Her father Ramon’s condemnation on Twitter of the waste of public money by Cardiff council has been criticised as ‘hypocrisy’ by political opponents.
     
    Meanwhile the Labour-run council themselves have hit the headlines.
     

    Last year they created a senior management team made up of seven directors who were each paid £120,000 a year.

    The new management tier added £1.1m to the wage bill but the council said it would be cost-neutral as spending on management consultants could now be slashed.

    Yet consultant costs have continued, with just over £700,000 paid out during the same period, though the council said a large amount of this was shared with other councils for joint projects.

    £100,680 was spent on an incinerator project in the Splott area of Cardiff, which is a shared project between the city and four neighbouring authorities, as well as an aerobic digestion facility with the Vale of Glamorgan.

    But the list of figures for consultancy work also cites five references to "A N Other" who is classed as an individual rather than an organisation.

    This includes one payment for almost £20,000 while altogether they total £28,496.25.

    As Mr Corria, a Communist, told Cardiff trades council:  "We need to change the whole bloody system."