Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barry Island Pleasure Park

The fairground on Barry Island is, apart from the glorious sandy beach, the biggest asset as a tourist attraction that Barry has.

However, the fairground as we know it is under threat.

Since being founded at the end of July, the save Barry Island Pleasure Park Facebook site has gained more than 16,000 members claiming that it will be closing at the end of the Summer.

I’m not sure of the exact truth of that – such rumours have surfaced on a regular basis over the years, but there is a planning application for a mixed development on the site, including a 25-storey high-rise apartment block.

Speaking to Barry-based journalists earlier this week, they tell me that the fairground owner says that the pleasure park in its current state is economically unsustainable. Perhaps that’s true.

But, equally, with similar housing projects being abandoned due to an obvious saturation of the market with one and two bedroom apartments, how is it that a very large empty eyesore casting a shadow across the Island will be any better – either for the owner or for Barry?

Tourism in Barry must meet the needs of the modern tourist. With the old Butlins/Majestic camp gone, Barry Island is an outdoor location with little to offer if the weather turns sour – great on balmy Summer days, miserable on wet weekends.

There is a need for development, but, like so much of Barry, the area sadly lacks an economic action plan that should link future developments on the Island with what is planned on the Waterfront.

The Vale Council should work quickly to bring together stakeholders on the Island – the fairground owners, other local businesses, Barry residents groups, Welsh tourism authorities, outside developers and financiers – so that we can build a Barry Island for the future, bringing people to the town all year round.

Thousands of people on Facebook have shown their nostalgia for the Barry Island that was, but together we need to build the Barry Island that will be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Immigration policy - for whose benefit?

They do play just outside the Vale, but I thought it was worth mentioning the plight of the Celtic Crusaders, whose torrid first season in the Super League was made worse last week by having six of their players deported, including captain Jace van Dijk and top scorer Tony Duggan, allegedly after playing on holiday visas rather than working visas two years ago.

The players, who, to be fair, were given until the end of the season to remain, have had their contracts cancelled by the Crusaders, and will leave the country immediately. They will then be banned from entering the UK for ten years, pending their appeals, of course.

While I have no doubt that UK Border Agency has acted correctly in this instance in enforcing the regulations, I believe that we need a review of what our immigration law is intended to do.

In recent months, we have seen girls from Patagonia prevented from entering Wales to learn Welsh, a married couple prevented from living in the UK because of her age under the Enforced Marriages Act and now the spine of a top flight rugby league team – and the only professional rugby league team in Wales – being deported, all by a faceless organisation that makes its own judgements.

Exactly in whose interests are these rules and in whose interests are they being enforced?

A large amount of migration (and as someone who has happily moved and lived in other countries, I have also been a migrant) is beneficial – for the individuals involved and for the countries in which they live.

The narrative in our newspapers has for too long told people that all immigration is bad and this has pushed people into the hands of right-wing anti-immigration parties such as UKIP and BNP.

The strange thing is that I suspect that most voters of either of those parties would support the rights of all three examples above to be here in Wales and participate in our daily cultural and sporting lives.

We, in Wales, the UK and Europe as a whole need a more dispassionate analysis of immigration and emigration and its costs and benefits, rather than ramped up right wing hype.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rigging polls

There’s been plenty of comment about Paul Flynn’s claim that Plaid Cymru bloggers rigged the Total Politics ‘best Welsh blogs’ poll, where six of the top ten were Plaid.

As Menaiblog points out, I only wish someone had told me beforehand.

A different type of poll is under question in this week’s Glamorgan Gem, though.

The Gem suspended their online poll about whether or not the Labour Party in the Vale of Glamorgan should have an all-women shortlist for their general election candidate, citing voting irregularities when the results changed massively after they published their initial findings.

As a former tutor in social science methodology, I’m not sure that anyone should take too much notice of open access online polls, as even at best they can only ever be indicative rather than being truly representative.

But, if the Gem are right, then that looks rather more like someone trying to rig a ballot than the easier to explain results from the Total Politics poll.

Reviewing the weekend

Friday’s Trash Camp was a good night out at the Savoy, with a large turn-out and some good tunes to get people dancing. Their Facebook site has the photos. The next night is on Friday, 25th September.

Unfortunately my attempts to do some extra-curricular research at Cardiff University on Saturday morning were hampered by ‘unexpected electrical work’ at the Arts and Social Scienes Library, so I instead found myself at Roath Farmers Market nearby, where I overheard some chat about the success of last week’s Vale Show at Fonmon.

The afternoon was then spent watching the Linnets’ first match in the South Wales Senior League Division 2. It was a topsy-turvy match, going a goal down early on, but bouncing back well. Definitely worth it for the last ten minutes when we turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 win. Cracking stuff.

Barry Town also had a game and a half as well, coming back from 2-0 down at home to Goytre United in the Welsh League to level the game in injury time at 2-2.

Linnets travel to Tongwynlais for a match tomorrow night while Town are at Jenner Park against Garden Village.

I didn’t get a chance to go down to the Sub Club on Saturday night, but made up for it on Sunday with a trip to the beautiful Ely Valley, only minutes from both Barry and Cardiff, visiting Peterston-super-Ely and Welsh St Donats amongst other parts of the rural Vale.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last chance to have your say...

The deadline for the All Wales Convention on whether there should be a referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly (short answer: yes!) is today, August 21st.

So if you haven’t already made a submission, now is an ideal (in fact, the final) opportunity for you to do so.

Just follow the link below to register your opinion.

All Wales Convention

Confensiwn Cymru Gyfan

A weekend in Barry

It’s Friday, so the weekend is approaching fast.

I’m hoping to get to the launch of the new Trash Camp night at the Savoy tonight – Barry’s new home to all things rock, indie and electro. The facebook site and requests suggest a variable enough set of tuneage for all ages (£2 entry 18+).

I’m going in to Cardiff University tomorrow to do some research in the morning, then heading on out to Llanishen to watch Cadoxton/Barry start their season in the South Wales Senior League Division 2.

With the Vale league not kicking off until next week and Cardiff City playing on Sunday, why not take a trip to Jenner Park to watch Barry Town tomorrow? They’re at home to Goytre United. Garden Village are then visiting Jenner Park on Tuesday, both in Welsh League Division 1.

Then, fingers crossed, I’ll be back down the High Street to catch some live music from Blue Traffic who are in the Sub Club in the Borough (which is always busy on a Saturdays anyway). Facebook site says ‘no cover charge before 11’, but I’m not sure there’ll be a charge after that either!

Total Politics

Many thanks to whoever it was that voted me into 57th place in the Total Politics ‘top 60’ blogs in Wales.

I feel that I have to blog rather more often now, just to say thank you!

Congratulations are especially due to Guerrilla Welsh-Fare in topping the poll and to my two personal favourites on the Welsh blogosphere, Menaiblog and Syniadau, both of whom take a constructive independent Plaid/nationalist slant on issues rather than indulge in the more prosaic pastime of attacking others and becoming involved in party political ping-pong.

I have no idea of the sample used in the Total Politics for Welsh blogs, but Plaid’s success in having six of the top ten blogs is quite astounding.

Previously, people have talked about who ‘owns’ the internet in Wales, with various blogs cited as good practice, e.g. the Lib Dems’ clunkily titled Freedom Central or those of Conservatives’ Glyn Davies or Dylan Jones-Evans, but if the proof is in the voting then it seems that Plaid supporters have done their job well in not just having the blogs online, but having people read, appreciate and act upon them – and these are two very different things.

The task now is for Plaid bloggers to continue to write interesting material and ensure that we engage in wider debate with the public, rather than just with ourselves. That’s easier said than done, but it can be done.