By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has said communities could be at risk of losing out on millions of pounds if planning law is not reformed in Wales.

The Labour AM has called on the Welsh Government to re-examine the system after planning inspectors ruled that a property development firm did not have to pay £334,683 to Denbighshire Council for a development of flats on land at Plas Derwen in Llangollen. 

Under ‘Section 106 Agreements’ developers are bound in contract to deliver a portion of the project in affordable housing or other community benefits such as playgrounds or new roads.  However the economic slowdown is leading to more of these agreements being torn up.

The AM said this pattern could be repeated across Wales leading to a huge loss of funds for local communities.


“As a result of the economic slowdown we need to see a change to the way planning law operates in Wales, particularly in relation to the obligations that are enforced on private sector developers to develop affordable housing.

“Up until now planning gain or ‘Section 106’ agreements have placed conditions on developers to ensure a certain portion of the build is affordable housing or other facilities such as a new park or playground that would benefit the community. 

“However as we have seen from the Llangollen case, the economic slowdown is leading to more and more developers being released from their contractual obligations.  If the Llangollen case is being repeated across Wales this is millions of pounds potentially being lost by our communities.

“It’s a difficult situation because whilst we want to get the economy moving again through more housing construction, there is the risk that communities in Wales could lose more of this very valuable funding stream.”

The Welsh Government said earlier this year they will work with councils to revise the Section 106 guidance because “inconsistencies in approach” can act as a barrier to housebuilding.

An investigation back In February by the BBC showed that more than half of Welsh councils were owed nearly £2.3m from private developers under section 106 agreements.  The amount outstanding in Wrexham was nearly £450,000

The Clwyd South AM added:

“We need to see reform thought through carefully.  Whilst there must be room for negotiation of section 106 agreements as economic times get tough, developers must not be released from their obligations lightly and it must always be with the consent of the council, not forced upon them as happened in Llangollen. 

“Maybe we could look to more innovative solutions such as having the Section 106 agreement transferred into a long-term loan that the developer could pay back over the longer term?  We also need to look at the powers councils have to enforce current agreements.

“Whichever way we go, we must ensure communities don’t lose out and that we maintain confidence in contracts that have been signed in good faith and we don’t undermine transparency in the planning process.”



By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has raised the prospect of North East Wales playing a central role in a future bid for the Commonwealth Games.

The AM said the possibility of a Liverpool bid for the games could have huge economic benefits for areas like Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire.

Off the back of the successful London 2012 Olympic Games the AM said a possible Liverpool/North East Wales bid could help offset costs and play a vital role in promoting the region to the world.


“Off the back of the Olympic success we must examine closely what role North East Wales could play in conjunction with a city like Liverpool on a possible joint bid for the Commonwealth Games.

“The economic, cultural, transport and sporting links between North East Wales and the North West of England make for a potentially unbeatable bid.  Imagine a bid that ties the Land of our Fathers to the city of the Beatles, the bid could be very strong.

“It would offer an intoxicating cocktail of history, culture and elite sporting venues.”

Mr Skates believes Wrexham in particular would benefit from a Commonwealth Games role as it would raise the town’s profile on a global stage.

He added: “North Wales could play a significant role in hosting the triathlon along the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site, Dee Valley and Bala, rowing on the River Dee, Mountain biking at Llandegla, road cycling on the Etape Cymru circuit, sailing at Shotwick and the marathon could follow a route through Wales, Cheshire and Merseyside.

“Clearly there would also be a need for new elite sporting venues, which could bring a lasting legacy to North East Wales and deliver sporting success for generations to come.”

Mr Skates said a key attraction of such a joint bid would be the potential to reduce costs and therefore avoid placing a financial burden on the tax payer.

He said: “By staging the Games in North East Wales and the North West of England we could draw on funds from sporting bodies in both countries and share costs on both sides of the border, while each benefiting equally.

“We would be able to exploit the enormous potential of our porous border and advertise to the world some of the greatest landscapes and buildings on the planet.

“A Mersey-Dee bid could set a new standard for the Commonwealth Games and create a platform upon which the wider regional economy would prosper.

He added: “It is entirely possible Liverpool and Everton’s football grounds will be replaced in the next twenty years, so early plans could utilise their new venues for the Games, perhaps for athletics.”

Among the other venues suggested by Mr Skates are Wrexham Racecourse for rugby sevens, shooting at the North Wales Shooting School in Sealand, track cycling at Manchester velodrome, and table tennis at Llangollen Pavilion.

The 2014 Games will be held in Glasgow, with the 2018 events taking place on Australia’s Gold Coast. The hosts for the 2022 and 2026 Games will be decided in the coming years.

Mr Skates said: “This is our big chance to put elite sport in North East Wales on the global map as well as promote grassroots participation in our communities. We need to give it very serious consideration.”



By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments


CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called for more joined-up thinking in training the local Olympic athletes of tomorrow.

Mr Skates said the medal haul achieved by North East Wales athletes like Tom James, Chris Bartley and Jade Jones proved that shared access to elite training centres in the North West of England had been crucial to their success.

The AM said more thought needed to be given to developing elite training venues in North East Wales as well as giving talented young athletes greater access to world class training and support over the border.

Both the Welsh and UK Governments have said they want to capitalise on the success of the games and the AM said a cross-border strategy to develop elite sport in Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire would pay dividends.


“The huge success of our athletes from North East Wales at the Olympic Games has been an inspiration to us all.  Many of them use training venues in the North West of England such as Jade Jones who trains at the GB Taekwondo Academy in Manchester on the World Class Performance Programme.

“The Welsh and UK Governments have both signalled the importance of future sporting success and to re-working their strategies for sport to encourage success at the Rio games in 2016. We need to think about how we can improve our sporting infrastructure in North East Wales and make it easier for local athletes to benefit from the facilities and training that can breed further success.

“A large part of this should be seeing the cross-border links that have developed and strengthening them.  As a cross-border region including the North West we have some of the best cycling, rowing, martial arts, curling, skating, canoeing, sailing, climbing and football venues in Britain.

“All of our future medal winners need to train at world class venues and where they can be developed or enhanced at places such as Glyndwr University or the Racecourse I will be encouraging us to do that.  However we also need to utilise the facilities on our doorstep across the border too.

“This will not only benefit our future Olympians from North East Wales but also help us attract talented young athletes from the North West of England to train here.  As far as participation in sport is concerned, the border is irrelevant and co-operation is critically important.

“I would encourage councils, sports organisations and governments to work together more than ever before on facilities that people on both sides of the border can use together.”

Mr Skates said a regional strategy for elite sports development should be examined, with North East Wales working with Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester. 

A Wales North East/England North West strategy could deliver enormous improvements for the development of elite and grassroots sport.



By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LOCAL AM KEN SKATES today welcomed news that Llangollen Museum is to receive nearly £40,000 from the Welsh Government.

The money, announced as part of a £200,000 fund to make the nation’s treasures more accessible to the public, is a joint initiative between the Welsh Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who have contributed £105,766 and £99,900 respectively.

Llangollen Museum has been awarded £39,650 under the Sharing Treasures scheme to bring to life the story of the Valle Crucis Abbey / Eliseg Pillar site and create an exhibition based on finds from archaeological excavations.


“I’m delighted that nearly forty thousand pounds is being allocated to Llangollen Museum to help celebrate and recreate the history of the Valle Crucis Abbey.

“The Abbey tells reflects back to us an important part of how Llangollen came to look the way it does.  I’m really looking forward to learning more about the history of the nine hundred year old architecture and about the Cistercian monks who lived and worshipped there.

“Making our local history more accessible to the public in North East Wales and helping local museums like Llangollen to establish partnerships with larger national museums will hopefully allow more exciting and interesting artefacts to come to Llangollen so they can be put on display.

“The story of Llangollen, the town and the abbey is a fascinating one and I’m hoping more people will come to this stunning part of the world to see the exhibition and learn more about our local heritage and the town itself.

“We have such a rich treasure trove of archives and libraries and we need to make sure more of those interesting pieces go on display in local museums like Llangollen.”

The funding will assist with the costs of setting up the exhibitions as well as alterations and improvements to the museum to make it suitable for loaned exhibits.

Other museums to benefit are:

  • Cyfarthfa Castle, which will receive £50,000 to create a permanent exhibition space within Cyfarthfa Castle Museum. The new gallery’s first temporary exhibition will be a display of works from the National Library of Wales’ collection of paintings by Sir Kyffin Williams., one of Wales’ most well-known artists.
  •  Buckley Museum, which will expand its collection of excavated Buckley pottery with items borrowed from National Museums Liverpool. The funding of £49,817 will allow the museum to improve interpretation elements to tell the story of the Buckley potteries from the medieval period to the Second World War and to explain their relevance to the people of Buckley today.
  • Wrexham Museum, which will receive £16,200 for a project that will explore the cultural impact of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s Grand Tour of Italy and France in the 18th Century. It involves the creation and staging of a fine art exhibition featuring the work of those artists he sponsored on his return.
  • Abergavenny/Chepstow Museums which are jointly undertaking a three year project to explore the cultural impact of Tintern and Llantony Abbeys culminating in two concurrent exhibitions at Chepstow and Abergavenny Museums. The project has been made possible with funding of £50,000.

Announcing the funding, Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis said:

“Sharing Treasures is an excellent project that will allow artefacts belonging to national collections to be displayed in the communities whose stories they tell.

“Increasing access to our history to all in Wales is an important commitment for the Welsh Government and this project will achieve just that. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved when we all work together.

“I look forward to seeing the exhibitions when they are ready and wish all the museums the best of luck with their projects”

Jennifer Stewart, Head of HLF Wales, said:

“We are delighted to support the Sharing Treasures scheme and in doing so to have encouraged a wider range of museums and libraries to plan exhibitions using national collections.  Our funding will also support activities around the exhibitions which will help local communities learn and get involved in the project, sharing it with future generations.”

David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:

“Amgueddfa Cymru works with local museums in Wales in many ways, supporting them in presenting and interpreting the history of different regions across the country. Our involvement in Sharing Treasures helps to strengthen our relationships with partner museums, ensuring that expertise is shared and the national collections are as widely available as possible. The national collections do, after all, belong to the people of Wales!”



About HLF:

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating over £4.5 billion across the UK, including more than 2,000 projects totalling over £224 million in Wales.  To find out more, please visit

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH DUO SUSAN ELAN JONES AND KEN SKATES have said the numbers of assaults being made on North Wales Police Officers each year is unacceptably high.

A special investigation by the Clwyd South Labour team highlighted nearly 900 incidents in the last five years when a North Wales Police Officer has been assaulted whilst on duty in the force region.

Some of the attacks included officers being attacked with a baseball bat, a motor vehicle, an aerosol and others being assaulted with physical force.  There were 133 attacks on Police Officers in North Wales in 2011/12.


“I am very concerned at the figures we obtained from North Wales Police which show exactly how many officers have been assaulted over the last five years in North Wales.

“Though we have seen a trend where the numbers of incidents overall has come down, we are still witnessing an unacceptably high number of serving Police Officers in North Wales being attacked in the line of duty.  This has to change and we need to do more to stamp out this behaviour.

“We need to see Police in North Wales better supported and given more assistance from the Home Office to undertake the important job they do in our communities. 

“We can see from the figures they are already placed under very great strain and the £16m funding cut being imposed on them, which represents 20% of their budget, will make their jobs almost impossible.”


“Police in North Wales do a fantastic job every day, in many cases putting their lives on the line, to keep our homes, neighbourhoods and communities safe. 

“Officers should of course not have to be attacked with baseball bats, aerosol cans or by physical aggression whilst they are on duty protecting our streets.  The job is difficult enough as it is and to see them assaulted in the numbers they are is a matter of great public concern. 

“On top of this we are now asking them to cut 260 personnel, 160 of which are frontline officers by 2015.  This isn’t good enough, the Conservative coalition Government is letting our force down in North Wales and we need to see something done about it.”


Numbers of assaults on North Wales Police Officers

2007/08 – 247 incidents
2008/09 – 184 incidents
2009/10 – 185 incidents
2010/11 – 146 incidents
2011/12 – 133 incidents