19/04/2012 Dragon's Eye


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Should an evangelical Christian church get taxpayers' money to


build a bowling alley for the local Good evening. Concerns are being


raised in Carmarthenshire over the funding of an Evangelical Christian


organisation that plans to build an auditorium for worship and a


bowling alley using public money. The Towy Community Church has


received up to two million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund, the


Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council for the new


development. Here's Brian Meechan. These are tough times in the public


sector. There are cuts in services and job losses. Can mother she


Council is no exception. All the spending comes under the spotlight


-- Carmarthenshire Council. This is the office of the Towy Community


Church. It has grand plans for the future which are causing a ripple


in Carmarthenshire politics. Supporters argue it is providing


services, critics are worried about the huge sums of public money and


how it plans to spend them. Unison represents many council employees


under threat of losing their jobs or a pay cut. We do question how we


can use the money and our members are facing cuts and a threat to


jobs. We have only seen it possibly 10 or 20% of the cuts so far.


People are fearful for their jobs and angry as to the use of money.


This is a glaring example. This is the site of an Old creamery where


the church is planning to build the new facility. The development will


be home to a mix of facilities, an auditorium the church were used for


worship and other organisations can hire it. There is a food bank, debt


advice, furniture recycling and a bowling alley. Our members can be


losing jobs due to economic problems, for much of problems,


they could be going to the food bank for debt counselling. And yet


they may not have needed to go there because the money could have


been used to maintain their jobs. There are concerns among


politicians. I have tried to look at the aims and objectives of the


grant funding but those aren't clear. The lesson we are learning


from the issues are we need to ensure any public money goes out


for clear objectives and they are to live it and the government or


whoever is dispensing public money monitors it. What is this money


for? How is it being put into the funding streams and is the


organisation using this money and restricting access to facilities?


Are they being discriminate tree in their employment practices?


main groups on the cancel all supported funding going into Towy


Community Church. The leader of Plaid Cymru and the Labour group


declined to be interviewed for the programme. We made numerous


attempts to contact the councillor, the leader of the Council and the


independent group but are calls were not returned. As a member of


the People's First Group, Sian opposed the funding. I am very


concerned we are dropping funding to other well-established secular


organisations like Citizens' Advice Bureau on the pretext that these


Christian groups can do debt counselling as well. I am not sure


because evangelical churches are well-known for going after members,


they would like to recruit, this church is building an auditorium


for 600 people and it has a fraction of of those members at the


moment. What will they use the services for? There are concerns


over the Church's links to an organisation called Mercy


ministries, which has faced criticism for the way it deals a


vulnerable young women. The Church has links to other rather dubious


organisations like that and I feel uncomfortable about the whole thing.


People who believe in possessions at by demons and to treat anorexia


through exorcism, it is not good. I would not like these people taking


over social services, for instance with a sort of bizarre belief


system. No seat Mr Rees was closed down in


Australia because of the way they treated days in their care -- no


seat ministries. It stated the aim of setting up similar ministry in


Carmarthenshire. This body believes he can cure a vulnerable young


girl's problems by exorcism. They are part of the Evangelical


Alliance which is against any form of same-sex marriage and these core


values go completely against the principles of public service which


is based on equality. With up to �2 million of public money invested in


the project, it is claimed it will provide 17 jobs and vital services.


For its critics, it is too high a price to pay when jobs and services


are being cut across the country. Brian Meechan reporting. We did ask


to speak the Pastor of the Towy Community Church, but he declined


our request for an interview. We then turned to Gwainy - an


evangelical organisation that supports Churches, including the


one in this case, in their bids for public funding for community work.


At first they agreed to be interviewed but then changed their


minds. We invited the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire


council to give us an interview, he said it wouldn't be appropriate


because of the local elections. We asked the group leaders of the


three main parties on the council, who supported the decision to fund


the project. Cllr Meryl Gravel, who also leads the council, didn't


return our calls. The leader of the Plaid Cymru and Labour groups


declined to be interviewed. As did the Local Government Minister, Carl


Sargeant. Just when I was starting to think


no one liked me, Brian agreed to sit in the chair. I am paid to be


here! You know how to make a girl feel special. We have had


developments on this tonight. have had a statement from the Welsh


government and it's important to be clear because it is an interesting


statement. It says that Towy Community Church has not received


any financial support from the Welsh governments communities


facilities and activities programme. They say it has been agreed in


principle the funding will be given to the project but crucially the


money has not yet been paid and the details have not been finalised.


That is a big development on the story. If you look at the website


of the Church, it was up there they were receiving the funding. So, it


remains to be seen what happens. Broaden this out into the wider


significance, because as the pot of public money shrinks for community


projects, are we likely to see greater competition between


organisations? I think that is the crux of the issue. We have gone


through a period of record levels of investment in health, schools


and local communities. When there was the feeling of plenty of money


to go round, projects did not compete and there was less scrutiny


and perhaps less of an issue about where money was going. Now, I think


we're seeing people asking the more questions about where money should


be given and who it should be given to and what projects. We heard from


Angela and one question she asked was in these times, is a bowling


alley a priority in terms of spending? That is the general point


but regardless of that, in any context money being given to an


evangelical organisation to run services but it does not appear


they are experienced at running, certainly not the bowling alley but


more importantly the debt counselling service, there is no


real idea of whether they have the experience to fulfil this when we


have organisations like Citizens' Advice Bureau which is short of


cash. And competition between organisations is likely to increase,


presumably as people tried to get hold of money? Yes, we heard a lot


from David Cameron about the "big society", this is David Camerons


big idea. Essentially, you roll back the state, you stop the UK


government and Welsh government and local councils providing services


at you bring in charities and local communities and allow them to run


the services. The idea being they will run in more efficiently and


better and they know the needs of the community. The problem with


that is you then have groups say why is this group getting money and


not us? The resistance if you go to an awarding body various criteria


and you are handed money based on criteria and it is objective. Once


you start getting a challenge to what organisations are running this,


you would have people like the councillor who we saw in the report


saying I do not want evangelical churches running social services


and it is not just that, many other organisations will be offering the


same questions. They say they are getting the same scrutiny as any


organisation and will follow the legal rules. Of course, in fairness


that they would defend their record and the fact they will be going out


and even though they perhaps are not in favour of gay marriage, but


does not mean they will discriminate against gay people.


Up to a hundred and fifty jobs are being lost at three Peacock's


distribution centres across south Wales. The company's new owners


described it as "a legacy of the administration process" after the


company collapsed last year. The news comes after yesterday's


unemployment figures showed a slight rise in Wales, with women


bearing the brunt of the increase. Our Business Correspondent, Nick


Servini joins us from outside the Peacock's distribution centre in


Nantgarw. Nick in light of yesterday's figures, what's the


wider context of the Peacock's announcement?


Yes, a consultation process is under way for 150 job losses at the


centre and two others in the South Wales valleys. It is a unique


situation here because it is still the fall-out of the huge corporate


collapse of Peacock's that we saw at the start of the year but it is


pretty gloomy and that was reflected in unemployment figures


yesterday. 131,000 out of work in Wales and the critical thing to say


is it has been at 130,000 or above for seven months. Historically that


is a high figure and it is the most sustained period where we have had


unemployment at that level recently. The statisticians in Newport will


say the way the figures are collated in the nations and regions


of the UK, to look at the trend that's been going on. Rather than


the one-off monthly spite in figures because they can be


volatile. On that reckoning, -- We have had seven months of high


unemployment and by any reckoning it is a gloomy assessment of what


is going on. A narrower version of our employment which is a specific


number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance went above


80,000 for the first time in over two years, a jump of 10,000 on the


quarter. It's interesting looking up a picture to look at the


political reaction because the Conservative Secretary of State and


Labour business minister were both keen to stress the positive side,


particularly an increase in the employment rates and a decrease in


the economic inactivity rate. How does this square with your picture?


To some extent they are right to point that out because we have had


significant increases in employment as well as unemployment. It does


show that there is evidence of private sector activity because we


know there isn't much recruitment in the public sector. For many


people, they may be confused because you would think if


employment is going up, our employment would come down as well.


I think the answer lies in this issue of economic inactivity, a


huge number of working age population classed as economic --


economically inactive. They do not show up on the joblessness figures.


The UK government in changes like phasing out incapacity benefit is


starting to have an impact on those large numbers of people across


Wales and in this area where I am in the South Bali's -- South Wales


Valleys and many of these people are coming on to the jobless radar,


and starting to claim jobseeker's allowance. That is what is


happening and it is the impact being felt and starting to be felt


in terms of figures. This is at least speculative but it could lead


to a scenario in future in Wales where the economy improves, the


private sector starts to take people on and yet unemployment will


remain high because there will be a relatively steady stream of people


previously classed as being economically inactive now claiming


jobseeker's allowance and showing That's interesting, will follow it


and see if it happens, but a quick thought from you before you go on


some of the hardest hit groups, young people and the position they


are in has received a lot of protect -- attention and women as


well, bearing the brunt in Wales. What is being done for them? Yes,


quite, I mean this ongoing crisis of youth unemployment, the figures


have moved steadily from a 5th of 16-24 year-olds not in full-time


education can are looking for work to close-up -- closer to a quarter


of that and Wales is just about the UK average. A lot of political


effort going into tried to deal with that issue, providing


incentives for sorts of companies to take on the young people, give


them a chance, provide work experience and get them on the jobs


ladder, and as you mention, female unemployment as well, a trend


emerging but women are being hit harder than men at the moment when


it comes to unemployment. You are attracting a lot of attention, I


don't know if those are beats of support. Thank you Nick Servini.


It is a tense time for local authorities. Their budgets are


being cut, demands for their services are growing and there's an


election campaign underway. Arwyn Jones takes a look at the issues


ahead of the local elections on May 3rd.


It is a fairly familiar scene, especially with elections looming,


these protestors in Aberystwyth are opposed to moving this day care


centre for the elderly, saying up to 90 people can use it, so why is


it being moved? Well, the council want to develop on the land.


It's a tricky one for any council. On the one hand there is a chance


of a new supermarket which would bring in new jobs as well as more


shoppers into the area, and it would mean moving this day care


centre, used by dozens of the most vulnerable people in society.


Ceredigion council and proposing to remove the service altogether but


they will move the day-care centre to another location -- are not


proposing. Campaigners said the alternative doesn't match up to


what they have now. So on Tuesday they were invited to have a look at


what is being offered. It is not the whole of this building. That


will house a new library. The new day-care centre will be in the


basement. We have been trying since December to get permission to look


at it, and it will be interesting what we will see, because people


who have seen it have complained about the low ceilings, the


dumbness, the humidity, the lack of space, it is only about one-quarter


of the size of the old days centre. -- the dampness. Of course, the


council doesn't have to provide services like these, it is not


legally obliged to do so. Having now seen the new centre, what was


the verdict? They have done their best, but I still don't think it's


good enough. It is too small, it is too claustrophobic, it is too dark,


even on a bright day like this with the lights on. And it's just not


good enough for our old people. asked candidates from all political


parties in Ceredigion on as well as the independent members of the


council's cabinet to answer questions about the day-care centre.


All but two were unwilling or unable to be interviewed, and the


council asked us not to run this story before the election. They did


tell us that they had listened to concerns and made changes to


minimise the impact on services. Other candidates, however, were


more keen to talk. Every councillor -- every councillors having to deal


with making savings. We are in hard times, there is no escaping that,


we must be honest, but it is how you make those savings and target


them, and I think in this instance, we have to ask ourselves if they


had been targeted correctly, are there other things that could have


been done, and the whole issue of development as well, it comes back


with the idea of looking at the plans. That type of facility is


needed because, I think, if we have a policy of early intervention to


help the older generation to stay as independent as possible, that is


the type of thing that the facilities such as a day centre,


where there it may be, does. It gives them a chance to socialise --


where every maybe. They can have a hot meal and have their laundry


seen to and other personal things if that is what they need.


money councils have is being squeezed, so it is possible


services like these may well feel the band in other parts of Wales.


think in some cases we may be getting to that situation currently.


I know local austerities are working very hard to work within


the budget constraints that they face, and they have made


significant efforts to prevent front line services being cut. But


they are also trying to redesign services as well, so it is not


simply a question of making efficiencies, but also finding new


ways of delivering services which may not cost any more. They may


even cost less, but still be able to provide a service which provides


the outcome local-authority is want to meet. -- Local authorities.


Whoever is in charge of the council's after elections, tough


decisions will be made, but who will they be, at the moment a third


of councils are run by Independent Councillors with Labour having the


highest number of councillors around Wales, 27 percent, but they


are followed not by other parties but by the Independent Councillors,


with 22 per cent of the total. There are a fair bit that -- ahead


of other parties at the moment and in Wales we have a higher


proportion of independent members and other parts of the UK, but is


that about to change? I think historically a lot of Conservatives


were minded to fight these local elections as Independent


Councillors, given the party's historic low standing in Wales.


Increasingly of course, that is changing. At the last local


elections in 2008, the Conservatives fielded a record


number of candidates in such areas as Powys, Pembrokeshire, which were


historically dominated by independent candidates, so there is


a gradual shift of those independent Conservatives being


minded to stand as independents increasingly standing on the


official party ticket. By their very nature can select -- elections


deal with the most local of issues, and there is no doubt difficult


decisions are being made. We will have to wait another two weeks to


find out who will make them. Arwyn Jones reporting. Earlier I


spoke to Professor Roger Scully from the Wales government Centre at


Cardiff University and asked him how the local election campaign was


just standing up. -- Wales Governance Centre. At the moment it


is looking like a normal election. We are seeing the party election


broadcasts and to some extent seeing Billy fitting and boards and


posters, but it is all at a much lower degree of intensity than a


general election or National Assembly election. The one of her


thing we are seeing, as one generally ceasing campaigns these


days, is that the parties have rather few activists on the ground


-- one generally seizing campaigns. Fewer people canvassing and


increasingly looking to compensate to some degree for this through


things like social media, use of the Web and so on and so forth.


Let's look at the individual parties, starting with Labour, they


had a real thumping in 2008 and will hope to gain ground,


presumably. Yes, it will be a big disappointment for Labour not to


make major improvements on their showing in 2008. 2008 was more or


less than Nadia of their fortunes in Wales, -- the Nadya. They are


doing much better in the polls in Wales and England at the moment,


and it would be a major surprise if they don't gain ground in terms of


councillors they have and also possibly take control of a number


of additional councils. And of course Labour hoping to make the


most, in some areas at least, of what is an unpopular UK coalition


government, which brings us to the fortunes of the Lib Dems and the


Conservatives, who may well fear a backlash. Yes, to some extent. We


have said that with the Lib Dems, and you see the contrast in the way


back campaigns are being fought. Labour launched a campaign about


sending a message to the London government, capitalising on the


national situation. The Liberal Democrats in particular are looking


to play that down and their candidates are looking at local


records, Local profiles, and implicitly saying, you might not


like the UK government all be happy with Nick Clegg, but you know me,


what I am like, trying to run on their local profile and local


records. The Conservatives' national poll rating is how it --


is holding up better than the Lib Dems but at the moment there has


been a difficult period for the Conservative Party and some extent


we would also expect to see the same from the Conservatives,


running more on local profiles rather than making this a


referendum on the government in London. And what about Plaid Cymru?


They go into this with a recently elected new leader? Commentators


will see this as the first vote on Leanne Wood, which will possibly be


unfair as she has only been there for a few weeks, but coming on the


back of pretty good performances in 2000 and date and a disappointing


Assembly election last year, -- 2008, I am sure Plaid Cymru can


hold most of the ground they won in 2008 and will be satisfied with


that. If they could win pretty much all the seats they won last time


and maybe make some gains, they would be delighted with that. I


would be surprised if their expectations were anywhere near


that tide. Just expand little on your thoughts about local versus


national issues, which you already referred to in terms of how the


parties of framing the debate. What dominates in elections like these?


It is a mixture of the two. It is undoubtedly demonstrated very


easily that when a party in government, particularly in London,


is unpopular, its local election candidates have a much harder time


winning. That is a very clear, consistent relationship going back


many years and decades. At the same time, it is not always impossible


for a candidate from an unpopular party at the national level to


still do well locally, and what one has to do normally is downplay


national issues, very much play of the local dimension, play up on


their personal records -- play at the local dimension, and try as


much as possible to avoid people making the election a referendum on


the government in London. OK, Roger Scully, thank you.


Let's talk about organ donation. The Welsh Government has a plan to


move to an opt-out system. The Law Society has called for greater


clarity in the proposed legislation. One of the points discussed in the


Dragon's Eye special programme on the subject last year -- in the


Dragon's Eye special programme. Our political Correspondent Tomos


Livingstone is here to tell us more. What has the Law Society said?


the moment if you want to leave your organs of your debt to carry


an organ donor card but there was government wants to look at


changing that system so effectively everyone's organs would be


available unless they opt out, but at the moment, a person's relatives


especially her -- effectively have a veto over all the 9th -- organ


donation after death even if they carry a donor card. What would


happen to that veto and this new system, for instance if someone


died having not opted out of the organ donation system but their


relatives said, I am certain she or he did not want their organs


donated? Who decides in that situation what the deceased


person's wishes really work? Now the Law Society responding to the


Welsh Government consultation raised concerns about this, saying


"the extent of the family's role is not certain ." They say it needs to


be cleared up before legislation is passed. What has the Welsh


Government's response been? Health Minister Lesley Griffiths


says she can't envisage a situation where someone's organs would be


taken without the consent of their relatives, but the Welsh


Government's White Paper talks about reducing the burden on the


deceased's relatives, of making a difficult decision at that what is


already a very difficult time. The Welsh Government's and research


suggests concerns about the family issues are the number one concern


the public has about this proposed change in the law. The problem for


Welsh ministers is that public support or otherwise for this


policy really seems to depend on the way this family question is


answered. So we will wait to see what happens there, but they


published yesterday the results of the consultation process as a whole.


What are the things of interest were in there? A range of views,


such as questions of religious and philosophical grounds, should the


state have control over people's bodies, but more specific concerns,


cross-border concerns, people perhaps to live over the border in


England but are registered with a Welsh GP. That was a concern raised


by the price of Dean MP Mark harbour. Others have questions such


as has Wales got enough intensive care beds. -- Forest of Dean MP


Mark Harper. The other thing is that there have been hundreds and


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