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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Column, March 28, 2006

THERE are times when I worry for the blood pressure of the Farmers Union of Wales. It seems that it is intent on conforming to the stereotype of the red-faced farmer shouting at some townie who has committed the heinous offence of crushing a blade of grass or looking at their view.
The townie who is the subject of their ire this time is Gordon Brown – fair game you might say, lots of reasons not to be too keen on him, including his support for the bloke who lives next door.
But Gordon has come under fire from the farmers for his headline-grabbing tax on gas-guzzling 4x4s. An outrage, farmers are the innocent victims caught in the crossfire as the Chancellor targets mums using Chelsea tractors for the school run.
Poor old farmers, first BSE, then foot and mouth, now this – is there no end to their suffering. Yes, well, perhaps it's a little hard to sympathise with someone complaining about a tax hike on 4x4s no matter how essential they are to farming.
Because I'm fairly sure that when Gordon Brown was making his budget speech he didn't say that he was declaring war on clapped-out old Land Rovers with a bit of Hessian sacking covering a hole in the seat and a distinct odour of sheep-muck.
No, what he actually said was that he was introducing the new Band G for new cars. So what we're talking about is the likes of the BMW X5 Sport, a snip at £62,640.
Yes, the FUW are absolutely right, 4x4s are the only way you can get around some farms in Wales. I'm just not sure that the 4x4 you do it in has to be the same as the one driven by Sol Campbell.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking that if you can lash out £62k on a car, £210 car tax is a mere drop in their over-large fuel tanks.
And anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a farmer's 4x4 a working vehicle, and so therefore isn't every last tappet, cog and wheelnut tax deductible?
You and I have to watch our cars sitting on the drive depreciating with every shower of rain. For a farmer all he has to do is write it off against his tax, so you'll forgive me if I don't extract my hanky just this once to dab at a moist eye.
The problem is that Gordon's tax hike grabbed the headlines, but it actually did nothing to solve the problem of these over-sized tanks polluting the air around every school in the land.
For the people stupid enough to buy them as a fashion item, £210 means nothing when they are prepared to spend £30-£60k on a 4x4 which will never be sullied by mud.
As one green campaigner pointed out, the hike of £45 for these cars will not even fill their petrol tanks, so its hardly going to worry their owners.
I don't think anyone can argue that this isn't a very tough time to be a small farmer, a farmer with a small farm that it, not a farmer who is small.
Everyone sympathises with farmers being ripped off by huge supermarkets who drive down prices and then fleece their customers.
No-one can argue that BSE and foot and mouth were not devastating. But car tax, really, come on, everyone pays it, no-one loves it, but not so many of us can use the car we pay it on as a business expense when dealing with the taxman.
The FUW should pick its battles more carefully if it doesn't want to waste what public sympathy its members still enjoy.


THINK about this – you buy a house, it's a modest affair, but you manage to get planning permission to convert it into a much bigger nicer house and then someone comes along and offers you a lot more money for it now it has got planning permission.
What would your response be if the original owner came around asking questions about how you managed to profit from it so much more than he did.
I know that Alex Hamilton is not exactly flavour of the month in North Wales given his dealings with Wrexham FC, but his deal for the depot in Mold just looks like a good bit of business to me.
If Flintshire were stupid enough to sell an asset that they could have got more for if they had granted themselves planning permission for it, then they only have themselves to blame.
But let me take a wild swing a guess that when this sorry mess is investigated no-one from Flintshire will be taking any blame at all.
One of those things, slipped through our hands, could have happened to any ham-fisted local authority guv.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Column, March 21, 2006

GOOD luck to Mold in its quest to become Wales's first slow city. It has to be said that the pace of life there has never meant it was going to challenge the likes of Chester for fast living.
Now at least it is acknowledging its more sedate aspect and is biding to become the first 'cittaslow' in Wales. 'Cittaslow' or slow city come from the Italians 'slow food' movement, a reaction to the relentless expansion of fast food outlets across the world.
When McDonalds opened an outlet on the Spanish Steps in Rome, food and wine writer Carlo Petrini had had enough and he founded the slow movement which aims to 'protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenisation of modern fast food and life.'
The idea is that you buy local produce from small outlets who acre about what it is they are producing. And the you take the time to coo a proper meal rather then whacking something plastic wrapped into microwave that will be ready in minutes but will taste of nothing.
I suppose I should wish Machynlleth and Llandeilo well in their challenge for the title too, but Mold is closest to my hometown, so my allegiances must lie there.
But luck is what they'll need, or rather an appreciation of the beauty of slowness by bosses who want everything done yesterday.
You have to remember that the slow movement was born in a country where lunch takes two hours and coffee another half after that. And that's only a warm-up for dinner.
What do you think are the chances of that catching on in Wales? Tell you what, run that suggestion by your boss this lunchtime, that you're off for a healthier, slow lunch and you'll be back in a couple of hours.
What was the reaction, bulging eyes, spluttering, reaching for the company rulebook to see just how fast he could sack you?
You see Mold, and its competitors may have a nice high street and more of their fair share of venues to accommodate the slow food enthusiast. But it's ringed with business parks where speed is king.
It's all very commendable Mold adopting the slow food ethos, but if businesses don't play ball you might as well whistle.
Most bosses want noses firmly pushed to the grindstone. Remember the hissy fit they had when the working time directive came in limiting the hours people can work. Contrary to expectations it did not signal the end of Britain as an industrial power (some would argue that happened 20 years ago when the Tories began car-booting or closing every manufacturing industry we had.)
Strangely enough the world did not come to an end when they could no longer force you to work 80 hours a week, back-to-back shifts, without breaks.
But try convincing them they're better off with a better-rested workforce. Now you've got to show them that eating well from locally-sourced, properly- cooked food is the answer to all your, and their, ills.
They'll be barricading you out of work and getting your job done by a call centre worker in Azerbaijan before you've even started the first course.

JOHN Williams was less than happy with my comments on the new guidelines for the teaching for drama, published in the wake of a teacher's suicide after he was accused of abusing his yoiung pupils.
This is what Mr Williams wrote: “Dear Sir, I was appalled by the crass insensitivity and lack of understanding shown in the article written last week by David Banks, and disappointed that a newspaper of your high moral standing allowed it to be published.
Unbelievably he was writing cheap jokes and smutty innuendo about the activities of a former drama teacher from South Wales who was the subject of an Inquiry instigated , quite rightly, by the Children's Commissioner for Wales ,even though the teacher in an attempt to pervert the course of justice committed suicide the day before the Inquiry was due to commence.
This wicked, wicked man has blighted the lives of countless children in his care , his vile practices continued for a considerable number of years.
These former pupils, in adulthood, carry the scars of shame and humiliation which he bestowed upon them. Thankfully some of them were brave and courageous enough to face their demons and publicly denounced him to the Police.
His former pupils will have to spend the rest of their lives tainted by the obscene experiences and degradation suffered in these Drama Classes , the Drama Classes that David Banks regrets missing out on.
Yours faithfully John P Williams RHYL”

MANY thanks to David Attenborough for keeping Wales in its pre-eminent position as the international unit of measurement for something...ooh,,,pretty big.
On his Planet Earth programme this week he breathlessly informed us that Lake Malawi, though reduced by drought, was still bigger than Wales.
He blotted his copy book a little later by telling uis that somewhere was as big as England. Means nothing David, stick to Wales or multiples of Wales, you're on safe ground then.

MEANWHILE well done to Blackpool for giving us yet another reason not to visit it. Not only is it a sinkhole of depravity with little to illuminate it other than a tawdry light-show. Now, it seems, you're not welcome in some hotels if you speak Welsh. But perhaps Blackpool's city fathers have missed a trick here, maybe this is the thing to revive its fortunes – baiting minorities on the Golden Mile.
You could start off with a little anti-semitism by having your trams head through an arch over which the legend freads 'Arbeit Macht Frei.'
Then what better way to illuminate the seafront than with some burning crosses planted in the sand? Hooded Ku-Kux-Klan members may be played by the many out-of-work actors hanging around the theatrical guesthouses now that the pantos have finished.
The pleasure beach affords all sorts of opportunities to offend our Muslim brethren with a few waxwork likenesses of the prophet and then sacrifice a few cows on the pier just to make the Hindus feel included.
Just when you think you're getting somewhere in Wales with regards to the right to speak Welsh, stories like this serve as a reminder that there are those out there who would just as soon see the language dead

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Column, March 14, 2006

TONY Blair's appearance on Parkinson explained a lot. It has become fashionable to write 'Parky' off as a bit too pipe and slippers comfy in an age where interviewing is defined by axemen like Paxman and John Humphrys.
That might be why Blair's acolytes put him up for the appearance in the first place, expecting his shucks I'm just a family guy act to get him through a series of softball questions.
But Michael Parkinson is a hack at heart and so when our leader starts alluding to God being the justification of why we got into Iraq then he thought it was worth a little exploration.
Admittedly that was where we needed Paxman to step in to explore whether God had appeared to Tony as a burning bush, or whether he'd just sent one of his archangels to explain how it was his will that 100,000 innocent Iraqis had to die in a war to topple Saddam – yea let it be so.
You do wonder why he bothered with all that dossier business trying to convince Parliament that war was the right thing to do. Why didn't he just go to the Commons and explain he'd been given the go-ahead by the big guy upstairs?
It would have saved us a lot of time and money as well as a lot of Iraqi lives. Instead of measuring him up for an ermine cloak when he relinquishes occupancy of Number 10 to Gordon Brown and becomes Lord Blair of Basra, he'd had been fitted for a jacket with arms that strap across the back and moved into a cell with extra comfy walls.
Is there something of a little bit Stalinist about the Blair premiership? All of his Cabinet clapping on cue for fear of being airbrushed out of Government and exiled to the Siberia that is the back benches?
Now and again you get mutterings in the ranks, this week our own Kim Howells admitted that Iraq was 'a mess' (a masterpiece of understatement, but nevertheless a step in the right direction).
But nothing cracks the edifice of Blair's insistence that he was right to go to war in Iraq and history will bear him out. And religious conviction would explain such stubborn insistence on being in the right, in the face of all the overwhelming evidence otherwise.
But you know, people like me have wasted acres of newsprint making these points time and time again – it was an illegal war, there were no WMDs, Bush and his cronies had no plan whatsoever about what to do when they, inevitably, toppled Saddam – yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah, dull, dull, dull.
We are dismissed by Blair and his lickspittle inner coterie as at best misguided and at worst as security risks. Remember this is the party that ejects a pensioner from its conference and has him arrested under anti-terrorism laws for shouting 'rubbish' when Jack Straw was spouting exactly that while lamely attempting to justify the war with Iraq.
And why should anyone take any notice of what a here-today, gone-tomorrow blatherskite columnist thinks about the war? No reason I can think of.
But if you're sick and tired of people like me bleating about quite how we got embroiled in a war on the coat-tails of an unholy alliance of US big business and the religious Right, then instead listen to what Trooper Ben Griffin has to say about it.
Let me preface his comments with the admission that there are two things British soldiers are extraordinarily good at – fighting and moaning, and usually both at the same time.
This is not a criticism of them, they built an Empire upon which the sun never set, but they do whinge a lot doing it. Sometimes their complaints are justified, being sent into battle with a rifle that doesn't work being one complaint that would seem to have some merit. But if it's not rifles that don't work then it's food, the amount of leave they get, the lousy pay, the arrogant officers, the boredom etc etc etc, you get my drift.
Twas ever thus, but no-one can deny that when they have to get on with it they do just that and you would not want to get in their way.
But Trooper Ben Griffin, who was brought up in Wales, is not your average moaning squaddie. No, no. He's a member of the SAS who has served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan. He has an exemplary military record which included service with the Parachute Regiment – not your average bleeding heart liberal then.
But Trooper Griffin quit the Army after three months in Baghdad, saying that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside US soldiers who he said were employing illegal tactics and treating Iraqi civilians as if they were sub-human.
This is what he said about Iraq to the Sunday Telegraph: “I think the war in Iraq is a war of aggression and is morally wrong and, more importantly, we are making the situation in the Middle East more unstable.
“It's not just wrong, it's a major military disaster. There was no plan for what was to happen after Saddam, no end-game.”
After he explained his position to his CO he expected to be arrested and jailed for refusing to soldier. Instead he was discharged with a testimonial that described him as 'balanced, loyal, and determined...with the strength of character to have the courage of his convictions.” Which seems to imply that there was some sympathy for his stance among the upper echelons of his regiment.
You see, as I said, there's no earthly reason why anyone should take a blind bit of notice of me or any of the legion of other journalists who have been saying what we have been dragged into is illegal.
But if you are not going to listen to Trooper Griffin, a man who has served his country in the most trying of situations, then who are you going to listen to?
It's a simple choice, between a man who revealed on prime time TV that he took us to war on the guidance of God, and a Welsh soldier who has faced the muck and bullets as a result.

THE new census forms, yes new census forms, and you thought you’d enjoyed the last one so much, will include a ‘Welsh’ tick box we are assured.
Hurrah, a nation rejoices, no doubt the now deathly quiet Independent Wales Party will be declaring 'We Won It For Wales.'
Although it was reported in some papers at the weekend that a nationality tick box has been included at the behest of the Welsh.
Well, not quite, I think the (London-based) writers will find that what the Welsh wanted was just the same as the Scots and the Irish got, that is to say what they are – Welsh – rather than what some English census designer assumes them to be – British.
There is a difference. Although we'll have to wait and see whether only the Welsh in Wales can declare themselves to be so and whether the next census will answer the far more interesting question of just how many Welsh people are lost to England because of economic opportunity.

Good Morning, Bermuda

My little stat-counter tracker tells me someone was on here from Bermuda last night and they came here looking for me.

Now the only person I know in Bermuda is Tony McWilliam, the legend who was my first chief reporter and who went off to the Bermuda Sun some years ago.

If that's you Tony, hello. If not, then whoever you are, welcome to my blog. Take a load off, have a look around, maybe sip a beer, just don't put your feet on the furniture.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Column, March 7, 2006

WHEN did we get so wimpy about the weather?
We live in a temperate country, one that is hardly Mediterranean, but then again, we’re a long, long way from the Arctic circle too.
One of the joys of living here is that we can watch the passage of the seasons, each differing markedly from its predecessor. Not for us the hot and wet, or hot and dry fluctuations of those from southern climes.
No, here, most of the time it is warm-ish, or cold-ish and it changes like, well, the wind, thus giving us a ready topic for polite conversation which goes thus (delete as appropriate):
"Hot/Cold enough for you?"
"They say it’s going to rain/snow/sleet/be a heatwave tomorrow."
"I blame global warming/the government/that John Ketley character."
Other nations share their innermost thoughts and personal demons with each other, we share the weather.
You would have thought then that, as a nation so obsessed with it, we might have a bit of a grown-up attitude towards it and when it’s a bit too hot or cold for us we’d take the long view, knowing that a couple of minutes/hours/days/weeks/months down the line it would all be so different.
But oh no, we’ve become weather wimps and I blame the media. Well I blame Sian Lloyd and her ilk and I blame us in the media from following them down the primrose path of meteorological nonsense.
I think it all stems from the night they failed to warn us - or rather southern England - that it was going to be a bit blowy - or rather it was going to be struck by a hurricane.
Sevenoaks in Kent became Oneoak overnight and you would think civilisation had ended the way they moaned about the lack of warnings. What exactly they woul;d have done with a warning I’m not sure, do they think they could have stopped it?
Anyhow, after that weathermen started hedging their bets a bit, embellishing the weather to make it sound a bit worse than it was.
But they were quite clever about it, so rather than being specific they use woolly nonsense phrases that sound like they’re telling you what the weather’s going to do, but really mean nothing at all.
Such as a classic last week in which a weatherwoman earnestly informed us that the snow would be ‘digging in’ for a couple of days. Just how in the name of Jack Frost does snow ‘dig’ into anything.
It’s little floaty crystals of water, it falls and it sticks or it melts. That’s it. It doesn’t dig.
Then we had the performance by one of the former Fleet Street papers that regularly puts the heeby-jeebies up its elderly matron readership by telling them asylum seekers are going to eat their pet poodles and sell them into sex-slavery, the matrons that is, not the poodles.
This time the bogey-man was not a bloke from Poland who’s come over here to work as a plumber - and who can blame them - come one come all I say, bring on the Krakow Plumbers’ Brigade, it might loosen the chokehold that the latterday pirates of the British plumbing industry have on our sumps.
No, this time this paper’s scare story was about a ‘Beast of a Storm’ that was headed for the UK. That’s right, not just a storm, a ‘beast’ of a storm. It had hit New York and now you could almost hear it growl as it headed across the Atlantic towards us.
You see, the problem is though, they can do scare stories about asylum seekers and no-one knows how much fabricated rubbish they are because no-one checks to see whether asylum seekers actually have all come over here to live a life of crime.
But if you do a scare story about the weather, then people can actually see if it’s true.
So the ‘Beast of a Storm’ turned out to be a bit of sleet and a couple of parky nights when you might have shoved an extra log on the fire.
You might think they had learned their lesson after that, but no, no, a mere two weeks later after the ‘Beast’ announced it presence with more if a whimper than a roar, they were at it again.
This time it was plummeting temperatures (and notice they always plummet, when they’re not soaring of course) that occupied their minds and they warned that at minus 15 it was going to be the coldest night since Biblical times. Alright, I might have made up the Biblical bit, but it was something like that. We were all going to freeze to death in our beds and so best say our goodbyes.
And, you know, it was a bit chilly, but then it warmed up. No harm done, move along, nothing to see here.
I remember winters when snow lay on the ground for weeks and a snowman became permanent resident.
Now a two-inch dusting is greeted by delirious headlines normally reserved for declarations of war and Royal deaths.
My Taid crawled to the outside world when Staylittle was snowed in, and then it lay as high as the tops of the telegraph poles. What would Fleet Street make of weather like that now? No doubt it would be eight-page snow chaos pull-outs and Taid would have been hailed for his pluck (always hailed and who uses the word pluck except for journalists struggling for another word for brave?)
And there’s a cruel irony to schools closing every time a single snowflake dares to drop on the Met Office roof. Because surely this is the one time all those Chelsea tractors used by mums to deliver their precious offspring to the school gates can come into their own. But no, school’s out for winter.
But if you’re shivering as your central heating burns your own personal hole in the ozone layer, comfort yourself with the thought that Spring is officially two weeks away and not long after that summer beckons.
But you know what will happen then don’t you - heatwave, phew what a scorcher and no doubt the Sun will be ‘digging in for days'. Just one more thing to moan about.

IT was inevitable that a burgher, I said burgher, from Gwyneed was going to set me straight about my views on the Asda planning permission and Coun Michael Sol own has been on to give his, forthright, view.
Here he is:
"Dear Mr Banks,
I read with interest your tub-thumping diatribe against Wal-Mart ASDA in the Daily Post today. I have no objection to you or anyone who wishes to bring to the notice of the general public the dubious practices of various international companies.
I do have a problem however when responsible journalists, such as yourself, try and 'sex up' the matter by placing the blame of a planning decision on the local authority without either doing the proper research or relaying the fact that it was a more complicated than 'keep ASDA out'.
I'm aware that some journalists adhere to the maxim 'dont let facts get in the way of a good story' -
Some facts:- This was not a new plannig application for a supermarket, planning permission was given in 1999 to Safeways, (the planning applcation on 20th February was for an REVISED application - construction of Supermarket...)
Safeways kept the planning consents alive, was sold to Morrison who subsiquently sold the whole scheme, consents and all to ASDA. (Planning consent is a land issue not an owner issue)
The Planning Committe had a difficult choice, which it took 2 hours to deliberate before voting 12 to 5 to pass the revised application.
The choice was either throw out the revised application, thus facing the almost inevitable appeal, going in front of the Assembly Planning Inspector and against ASDA with the principle of a supermarket already accepted since 1999.
Or pass the application with a number of strict conditions on the type of sale of goods etc.
Should ASDA appeal against some of these conditions, we would have a much stronger case to put in front of the Inspector as the conditions would have the backing of the Local Authority and be based on local and national precedents.
In the end the Councillors have to work inside the 'planning box', stray outside this arena and especially with big organisations one ends up trying to defend weak or unsound planning decisions in front of an Inspector, who knows that if he doesn’t stick to the 'planning script', will have a judicial review slapped on him by the likes of ASDA.
This planning application, like a complicated equation, had many variables, the shopkeepers, town council (by the way only 6 out of 15 of them voted - the rest stayed away! - too much heat in the kitchen!) , the general public and many more interested parties.
I believe that we arrived at an acceptable compromise, considering the circumstances.
As the local member on Cyngor Gwynedd Council where this development will take place, I went to the meeting arranged by the Chamber of Trade to listen to the arguments, to the Pwllheli Town Council (of which I am also a member) to listen to the debate, I also spoke to a great many people and asked their opinion of the proposed development. After deliberation, taking part in the 2 hour debate I (as the local member) proposed and voted for this revised plan. I have neither heard, read or been told of anything since the Planning Committee that would persuade me that we have made a wrong decision.
Sincerely,
Michael Sol Owen
(Cllr Pwllheli North Ward)"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Column, February 28, 2006

BRAVO to the burghers of Gwynedd.
I said burghers.
They are not ones to stand in the way of progress. They have seen the future and it has got a big green sign on it saying ‘Asda.’
They’ve given planning permission for an Asda store in Pwllheli, all 15,000 sq ft of it.
The town council didn’t want it. The chamber of trade didn’t want it. At a public meeting to discuss the application only one person could be found to speak up for it.
I dare say if you stopped people crossing the Cob onto the Llyn and asked them what they thought was missing from this beautiful area, few would pipe up: “It’s all very well having mountains and valleys and beaches – but why oh why haven’t you got a decent Asda for me to spend my time pushing a trolley in?”
I’m sorry, but Asda was not the missing piece of the jigsaw that would make the Llyn that perfect place to be.
Nevertheless, the burghers, I said burghers, of Gwynedd Council’s Dwyfor area planning committee have taken a different view on the matter than pretty much anybody except Asda themselves.
They are obviously just gagging to get into Pwllheli and Claire Irvine, Asda’s property communications manager said: “Our research has shown that people travel out of the town to do their main shop, so our store would keep people in the area.
“This development should be seen as a positive thing for the town.”
Yeeeees. Well, when she says, keep people in the area, perhaps you should read that as ‘keep people in Asda’, so any money spent ‘in the area’ doesn’t actually stay ‘in the area’ it goes back to Asda/Walmart shareholders, doesn’t it?
And as for Asda coming to town being ‘positive’, well, let’s just have a little look at that claim shall we?
Because if this Asda is the same Asda that offered workers in Tyne and Wear a 10 per cent pay rise if they gave up their union membership, some people might not share Ms Irvine’s view of what is ‘positive.’
It has to be said that the members of an industrial tribunal that the Tyne and Wear workers went to also took a similarly dim view of Asda’s tactics and ordered the company to pay a whopping £850,000 to the 340 workers there.
The GMB union, which represents some Asda staff, is also not too thrilled with a document leaked from the company which outlines tactics to be used to get more from the workforce.
The ‘chip-away’ strategy as the GMB calls it, includes managers cutting short, or not taking, breaks, to encourage hourly-paid staff to do likewise.
According to War in Want, an audit of 25,000 employees of Wal-Mart, Asda’s US parent company, found 1,371 violations of child labour laws, including children working too late, too many hours and during school hours. Nice.
The audit also found 60,000 instances of workers being forced to work through breaks and 16,000 instances of workers having to work through meal times.
All very, very positive, I’m sure you’ll agree.
But jobs are jobs, as the burghers, I said burghers, of Gwynedd will insist.
Yes they are, but not all jobs are equal. The United Food and Commercial Workers union in the USA has worked out that for every two low-wage jobs created at a Wal-Mart store, three jobs are lost in local businesses.
Over here the British Retail Forum has calculated that every Asda supermarket opening means the loss of 276 jobs on average.
Really, really positive, don’t you think?
And don’t get me started on bananas.
Well, alright then.
According to War on Want’s alternative company report for Wal-Mart/Asda, the company instituted a price-cutting strategy for bananas in 2002 which resulted in prices dropping by 25 per cent across the board.
To produce bananas at that price means employing the worst labour and environmental conditions in the world. Independent growers in countries such as Costa Rica, where there is protection for workers and the environment, can no longer sell to Asda or other British supermarkets without making a loss, says War on Want.
All the above information is available from War on Want at www.waronwant.org and, having read their report, I’m really struggling to find exactly what it is that is ‘positive’ about the arrival of Asda in Pwllheli.
Perhaps the burghers of Gwynedd can explain.

CAN anyone explain to me what the blimminy-flip is going on with Plaid Cymru?
It seems to be going through the political equivalent of a middle-aged crisis with this rebranding.
The new emblem means that now, apparently, Plaid is not in favour of dragons, but it’s all for daffs drawn with a Spirograph.
Do you know they’ve even got a sonic logo? A sonic logo for God’s sake.
Other people might call it a jingle and think that it is beneath a party to waste brainpower devising such fatuous nonsense.
There are people living in Wales in abject poverty and they devote their time to a sonic logo.
That will get them flocking to the polling booths every time.
We’re told that party members will be able to download the sonic logo, which is a sort of harp-like trill, to use on their mobile phones.
Fantastic, they’ve managed to combine two of the most annoying aspects of modern life – muzak and mobile phones – and make it their unique selling point. What masterbrain is behind this electoral strategy?
Just when is the Labour party going to call this mole in from the cold after he has wreaked havoc with whatever electoral hopes Plaid had?
And now we also have the return of Dafydd Wigley, and some might say not entirely before time, given the above rebranding.
But, if he’s successful, isn’t that going to mean a plethora of past and present leaders washing about Cardiff Bay, what with Dafydd El presiding, Ieuan Wyn Jones at the Assembly helm and Dafydd Iwan leading whichever bit of the party he’s going to lead now.
Perhaps that’s their new rebranded version of democracy, everyone leading their own little bit. And the Lib Dems thought they had a leadership crisis.

PS, I'm told it's a Welsh poppy, not a daff, in which case they do not know what a Welsh poppy looks like. Time to get the Etch-a-Sketch back out methinks.