Well done to The Coach for winning this accolade. As you will see from the top 20, in bold, we are blessed with numerous fine hostelries this side of Cardiff, and a good number in Cardiff too.
It is a tough industry to succeed in these days, as witnessed by the number of pubs that have closed down. Those that survive have to work harder, and we should applaud those that go the extra mile and become an asset to their communities, while remaining drink aware ( www.drinkaware.co.uk ).
1. The Coach (Bridgend) https://www.facebook.com/thecoachbridgend
“In the face of globalisation, prolonged economic crisis and a skewed UK economy, Wales needs to look to itself to mobilise new sources of sustainable industrial investment.”
“A Welsh industrial strategy must break with the past and seek to identify the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Welsh economy. It must build on successful initiatives by the Welsh government in the recession, but also on Waless particular economic geography and industrial structure. Crucially, in order to carry the necessary authority to deliver the strategy would require a government able to set central priorities for development.”
“Key recommendations of the report include:
Supporting infrastructure improvements where needed
“In addition, an effective industrial strategy would require wide social and political support with clear social goals sustaining decent secure work and meeting pressing environmental needs.”
Full report PDF:
Your access to justice is under threat. The government is planning a fresh assault on whats left of legal aid. Under their proposals people will no longer be able to choose the lawyer who represents them – instead they will be allocated the cheapest lawyer the government can find. Tomorrow is the last public event where we can make our views on this heard. 
Cut-price justice is no justice at all. These plans turn a fundamental human right into a cost-cutting race to the bottom.
And the race has some pretty surprising competitors: current contenders whove said theyll bid for the contract include the trucking company, Eddie Stobart, and G4S, the security firm who botched their job at the Olympic Games. Not to mention Serco, who rely on tax havens to hide the huge profits they made from delivering public services. 
Is this really our governments idea of justice? Handed out by trucking companies, tax dodgers and security bunglers? Theyre running a consultation to feel out whether the public will put up with these plans. Lets tell them loud and clear: we wont.
Click here to sign the petition demanding the government scrap their legal aid proposals:
The consultation gives us a chance to convince the government to change their minds on this. The petition was started by Maura McGowan, 38 Degrees member and Chairman of the Bar Council. If we can get tens of thousands of people to sign it, we can turn the consultation into a public outcry – and put massive pressure on the government to scrap these ludicrous plans.
But we dont have long – the petition is being delivered tomorrow. Click here to sign it now:
Imagine that you or someone you care about was arrested and couldnt afford a lawyer. Right now, you would have access to high quality, publicly-funded legal aid, from a lawyer you trust. If the Governments proposals go through, all that will change. Huge contracts will be given to a small number of organisations that offer one-size-fits-all legal services at the lowest price.
But access to justice isnt the only thing at stake here. Its another move by the government to privatise vital services. Companies like G4S and Serco are expected to bid on these contracts. These groups already have worrying ties to our prisons and police force – do we really want them representing us in court as well? 
Lets persuade the government to rethink these plans – sign the petition now:
Thank you for standing up for the right to justice,
Megan, Alex, Susannah and the 38 Degrees team
|http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/05/miliband-reburies-socialism-googlePraising Tory Blair and criticising his dad, Ralph Miliband, the Labour leader said the choice was not between socialism and capitalism but “responsible” and “irresponsible” capitalism. What an oxymoron!!
Green Left is the ant-capitalist ecosocialist group within the Green Party of England and Wales.
Wales’ Green Left contact:
Andy Chyba: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am writing to ask for your support for a new campaign being run by the Rationalist Association. Its called the Apostasy Project. We aim to provide information, support and help to those who are trying to leave their religion.
For many of us choosing what to believe is no big deal – no one is forcing dogma on us, we can follow our conscience in a free society. But many others are not so lucky. Losing the faith of their family or community can be painful and disorientating. Leaving their religion can mean not just leaving behind god, but family, friends and their community. They might even face retribution.
People like Vicky Simister, who grew up as a Jehovahs Witness in Ireland. For Vicky leaving the faith was like going through a break-up. For me it was both figurative realising the God I had committed my life to wasnt real and grieving that and literal, my family and friends shunned me and I had to cope with that rejection and rebuild my life.
Faced with this painful dilemma its not clear where to turn. Jonny Scaramanga was brought up a devout Christian and attended a specialist evangelical school, but his conscience insisted he renounce his faith, at great personal cost: For me the fundamentalist experience was desperately lonely, but the secular one was even worse, because it involved leaving behind the few friends I did have. I would have been grateful for a place that combined a chance to make friends with a place to discuss important questions.
Vicky and Jonny have both now rebuilt their lives, and are part of the Apostasy Project team who want to help others in the same predicament. People like this ex-Muslim, who spoke to us on the condition we did not reveal her identity: I consider myself an atheist, but I have not told my family. I am in the closet. I’m ready to come out, but I need support
The Apostasy Project aims to help people like her, in Britain and around the world (we have already been contacted by a Mormon in Utah, an atheist in Nigeria and even an interfaith Minister who wants to help fight religious coercion). We desperately want to help, but well need your financial support to do it. We want to compile useful resources (including video), create an online space with a sense of community and staff an online helpline to answer questions and share experiences with those in need.
Our target is £20,000. If everyone receiving this message gave just £5 we could start helping people next week.
Please visit this page where you can find a short film featuring some of our team including Jonny and our anonymous ex-Muslim friend. I hope you will be moved by what you hear and consider making a donation, which you can do directly from that page or by text message.
We want to help more people enjoy the benefits of free thought. People like former Catholic Rory Fenton (another member of our team):
I know how difficult it can be to accept a loss of faith but I also know what it’s like on the other side, to be out and fully yourself. I wish I could have had access to something like this as a teenager and my hope for others is that they might be spared some of the struggle I went through.
Thanks for your support
From the map – seen via the attachment at the bottom of the post – you will see that the whole of Merthyr Mawr village is less than 1km (0.6 miles) from the proposed drilling site, as is a big chunk of the Broadlands estate (the SW quarter). The rest of Brodalands, most of Laleston, Ogmore and numerous farms and isolated rural homes are all within a 1 mile radius.
Why should you be concerned?
This is phase one of plans to industrialise the countryside, with full production requiring well pads at intervals of a just a couple of miles apart across the whole region, to produce a fossil fuel via FRACKING – an extreme, hazardous method, that we simply do not need to even touch. This part of the world is uniquely blessed with the abundant renewable energy options that offer sustainability and true energy security, without exacerbating the coming problems of accelerating climate change.
The people of the Vale of Glamorgan have made it clear that they will not tolerate any aspect of this industry.
For all the information you could possibly want about fracking, there are many pages of information to be found here:
Look also to the Frack-Free Wales group: http://frackfreewales.wordpress.com/
Get your comments in to Planning Officer Tony Gore – preferably before the official deadline of 30th May – but do it any way.
This may just be an exploratory drilling operation, but it is the thin end of a very sinister wedge!!
|Could you please circulate this around your contact/member lists
and post up on websites etc.? More information in the Stop New Nuclear newsletter.
Mobilise for Caroline Lucas’s amendments to the Energy Bill
Caroline Lucas, has tabled six amendments to the Energy Bill that is currently going through Parliament. The amendments aim to challenge the unfair support being given to new nuclear at the expense of renewables.
The amendments call for: greater transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of any contracts drawn up between government and nuclear companies; the removal of payments to nuclear companies through contracts for difference or the capacity mechanism; and the removal of any public underwriting of construction costs or other investment contracts.
Caroline has asked for our help in mobilising support for these amendments. We would therefore be very grateful if you could print off the letter below and send it to your local MP. (Its basically asking your MP to support Carolines changes to the Energy Bill).
It would be even better if you added some comments of your own at the top of the letter: apparently MPs take more notice of letters that are personalized.
It would also be really useful for us to know which MPs have been sent the letter. So if youre emailing your letter, could you please add our email address (campaign) in the blind copy/Bcc subject line. If youre sending the letter by post, could you send us a short email to let us know who youve sent it to.
Most important of all, we understand that the report stage of the Energy Bill will take place on the 3rd and 4th of June, so please send your letter as soon as possible.
If you are unsure who your MP is, youll be able to find the details here (if you are unable to open this link, go tohttp://www.theyworkforyou.com).
DRAFT LETTER TO MP
Dear [insert name of MP],
I am writing about the Energy Bill to ask you to support the six amendments on nuclear power. These amendments have been tabled by the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, and are gaining cross party support.
I would like you to add your name to amendment numbers 23 to 28 before Report Stage of the Bill, which will take place on 3rd and 4th June, and to represent my views by speaking and voting in favour of these amendments in the House of Commons.
The Coalition Agreement made a very clear promise that new nuclear power stations would only be built if the industry got no public subsidy. I am disappointed that ministers are backtracking from this. Because of the huge cost increases for new reactors and the withdrawal of major companies from the consortium interested in building nuclear power, they are now introducing mechanisms to provide financial support through the Energy Bill.
I am very concerned about the high cost of nuclear power and the secrecy of the Governments negations with EDF Energy. Estimates of the cost of electricity from new nuclear are around double the current electricity prices and the Governments current proposals would lock us into these high prices for the lifetime of the power station, i.e. around 40 years.
You may have read that Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, said that, whilst some people believe nuclear is cheap, even offshore wind is cheaper than nuclear, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/17/wind-cheaper-nuclear-e….
I believe that renewable energy sources, coupled with new storage technology, energy demand reduction, and wider European integration through cross-border electricity interconnectors can provide the necessary generation capacity. Germany is providing a strong example of a nuclear-free energy strategy that is safe and affordable.
Furthermore, Ed Davey, Secretary of State, has said that nuclear power must be price competitive and represent value for money for consumers if it is to be taken forward.
More recently, Michael Fallon, Energy Minister, said: Any deal reached would have to be fair, affordable and value for money. Caroline Flint has said that Labour is in favour of nuclear power but that the decarbonisation of our power supply must be done in the most cost-effective way. And that any strike price agreed must reflect a fair deal for bill payers.
There are three key amendments that I would like you to support even if you are not opposed in principle to nuclear power:
Firstly, in order to achieve these aims, please will you support amendment 24. This already has cross party backing and would ensure that payments under a Contract for Difference for nuclear electricity are not greater than payments for any form of renewable generation. This would recognize that nuclear is a mature technology – as well as cross party consensus on the importance of protecting bill payers from unnecessarily high costs. This amendment would prevent nuclear power from getting a larger subsidy than less mature renewable energy technologies, in terms of price per megawatt hour and the length of the contracts that would be provided.
Secondly, I would like you to support amendments 26 and 27 on transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of any contract. These amendments increase the transparency and accountability around DECCs negotiations with EDF Energy or other companies building new nuclear power, in respect of investment contracts (amendment 26) and contracts for difference (amendment 27). The amendments would require the Secretary of State to ask the National Audit Office and Parliament to examine whether the contracts represent value for money, in line with the backbench business motion debated on 7 February 2013, and the cross party group of MPs and academics who wrote to the NAO recently asking for this, see:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9975199/UK-nuclea…
Thirdly, amendment 28, which rules out payments to nuclear power through the capacity mechanism. There have been reports that DECC is looking at this option. New nuclear power already stands to gain huge subsidies through the contracts for difference and investment contracts in the Bill. Subsiding new nuclear power through the capacity mechanism would also contravene Ministers commitment not to give public subsidies for new nuclear power. This amendment also rules out the possibility that existing nuclear power could receive taxpayer handouts via the capacity mechanism. The capacity mechanism is supposed to be about ensuring supply meets demand at times of peak demand but nuclear is one of the least flexible electricity generation technologies available.
I am strongly opposed to new nuclear power for economic and environmental reasons and I have seen a lot of evidence that we do not need new nuclear to meet carbon emissions reductions. I am also concerned that Government support for new nuclear power will mean much less investment in renewables and energy efficiency. Therefore, as my MP, I would like to you support two further amendments on nuclear too:
Amendment 23: this would rule out payments to new nuclear power through the Contracts for Difference Mechanism in the Energy Bill.
Amendment 25: this would rule out any public underwriting of construction costs or other public support to nuclear through investment contracts. It is widely reported that EDF Energy is seeking underwriting / guarantees in addition to a strike price of around double the market price for electricity. Such incentives are not available to all renewables and therefore this is another unjustifiable subsidy to new nuclear power.
I would be grateful if you could write back to me to confirm whether you will represent my views on nuclear power by supporting some or all of these amendments.
If you are unwilling to support them, at the very least please could you write to Ed Davey [if MP is a Lib Dem] / Michael Fallon [if MP is a Tory]/ Caroline Flint [if MP is Labour] to convey my views on nuclear power.
Thank you in advance for your response and I look forward to hearing from you.
|7.00pm Thursday 23rd May 2013 at the
The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill
ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)
NOTE – Venue is 1 minute’s walk from both the Bus and Train stations in Bridgend.
REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know and we will organise it for you.
|The Glamorgan Gazette carries the news that ex-Tory Porthcawl Town Council leader Chris Smart has decided to help set up a UKIP branch in Bridgend. I have had several people ask for my reaction to this news. “Welcome” sums it up in a word.
(Chris Smart – it is safer to judge this book by its cover, rather than its name!)
Anything that can help stir up a bit of attention on the moribund political scene in Bridgend has to be welcomed. The fact that they are a right wing party that plays on scapegoats and ignorance is obviously a pretty vile proposition, but who are they going to bother?
They cannot bother the Conservatives too much as there are not that many of them to bother (outside of Porthcawl). This is one of the few consolations of the political scene here in South Wales.
It is hard to imagine the Lib Dem support that has not already melted away being tempted by the UKIP offering. Getting in bed with the Tories has been catastrophic enough; so flirting with ‘super’ Tories cannot appeal.
As for us, they may well nick a chunk of the protest vote that we may otherwise pick up, but that is ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ voters that do not engage with our message, but want to simply give a bloody nose the Party of Power. We have seen that already in local elections, where we can poll 25% in a two horse race as purely the anti-establishment vote. Most of it melts away as soon as others are attracted into the fray. If we are to have any long-term success it has to built on a core vote that is convinced by what we have to say. That simply cannot be anyone remotely tempted by UKIP’s message.
Just in case you remain in any doubt what that message is, as well as peddling the usual immigration myths to scapegoat Johnny Foreigner, in traditional far right tradition, they are also firmly in the the climate change denial camp. You can see the full horror of UKIP’s vision for us here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/mar/07/ukip-policies-manifesto-commitments (Their sop to the Green inclined? “Incentivise the production of electric cars.” Full stop.)
So what of the Labour Party here in Bridgend? Should they be concerned? They clearly have the most to lose, as they hold most already. And Farage has mastered the art of appealing to ‘Blue Collar Conservatives’ – those that all too readily prepared to blame foreigners for our own failings; that discuss their politics over a pint and a fag; that want to believe we can have it all without having to make sacrifices; that will jump at short term fixes, because they are so fed up and miserable now!
While we cannot offer any of this, anything that can challenge the stubbornly blind loyalty to Labour around here cannot be all bad. If their heads can be turned and the eyes and ears opened we may be able to finally engage with them too, and get them to realise that the socialist virtues that truly look after their interests, and were once (but no more) the bedrock of Labour, are now available in the new ecosocialism, based on social justice, localism and sustainability, that we represent in the Green Party.