Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let’s play nicely – or not

Some excellent observations from Matt Withers in his Wales On Sunday column this week.  Including extracts from a speech made by Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle in the Senedd last week during what was apparently a plea to move away from divisive politics.
“WE are in this together, but that means moving away from the sort of divisive politics that has become the hallmark of this coalition.”
Matt points out other highlights
Admitting she would support proposals to allow parents flexible leave if they weren’t being introduced by the current UK Government, telling Lib Dem AM Eluned Parrott she was “just here to stick up for the pernicious Tory Government at Westminster”, and pointing out that “our Labour First Minister is at the joint ministerial committee, standing up for Wales.’
Seems they just cannot stop themselves.  It’s the Labour way or no way as far as they are concerned as we see far too often in RCT.
The same column also picks up on Health Minister Lesley Griffiths assurances that she has never used the word ‘scaremongering’   In fact, Matt claims, she has used the word nine times.
 nine – the number of times Ms Griffiths has used the word “scaremongering” in the Senedd since being appointed Health Minister (five times in relation to the reorganisation of hospital services on September 28 last year, three times in a debate in November and once on February 1).

Thus is the advantage (or not) of a written verbatim record of proceedings - you need to be very sure of your facts before you deny having said anything in the past.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blues may find House of Pain too painful

Wales Online today reports that the WRU are considering spending £10million to buy the freehold of Cardiff Arms Park and redevelop the site.
 Cardiff Arms Park redevelopment to be considered by WRU

If a deal can be struck to acquire the freehold interest, (for a reported sum of £10million) any profits from commercial developments would be ploughed back into developing.” rugby at the site.
This potentially could see a major refurbishment of the exiting Arms Park and even the building of 15,000 capacity stadium. The WRU would then lease the ground to the Blues, but also look to use the ground to stage other matches, including under-21 internationals.
It would look to mirror Parc y Scarlets in terms of its facilities in catering for pre-match hospitality and entertainment, as well being used for non rugby events such as concerts

This would be the same WRU who couldn’t afford to help maintain a Valleys regional side, but it seems can keep providing for the favoured few.

This follows on the heels of a report yesterday which stated that “Cardiff Blues plan to play matches at Sardis Road in bid to embrace region”

“CARDIFF BLUES are ready to take matches to Pontypridd’s Sardis Road ground as they look to take top-level rugby back to the valleys

The move comes as new chief executive Richard Holland and coach Phil Davies argue it is crucial the Cardiff-based region build up a stronger fan base outside the Welsh capital.”

The “Cardiff based region” have surely left it a bit late to start looking to build support outside the capital.  Have any of them been up this way lately?
A couple of months ago I was at a charity event in the Rhondda which included an auction.  People were extremely generous and large amounts of money changed hands for all manner of items.  Except one.  A Cardiff Blues shirt signed by all of the team.  Not a single bid came forward, despite the auctioneer trying to start it off at £1.    
It is indicative of the strength of feeling that exists not just against the Blues but at the whole manner in which regional rugby has been set up and run.

If the Blues are coming to Sardis then they had better bring a few busloads of fans with them I fear, as I can’t see Ponty supporters turning out for them
And what of the plans of Owen Smith MP to bring regional rugby back to Pontypridd and the Valleys?  It has been reported that Pontypridd RFC board are fully behind this, but yet it seems at the same time they have been making plans with the Blues. Am I the only who thinks this is a bit odd?

Don't think I'll be rushing out to buy a Cardiff shirt any time soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Loose Cannon

RCT Council AGM took place earlier today and if I needed a reminder of just why I keep getting back on the horse and attacking the Labour party this was it.  The group in RCT is fronted by a pack of absolute insufferable, arrogant bullies who are a disgrace to the communities they are elected to serve.  They are backed by a spineless crowd of backbenchers who are just along for the ride.
The meeting opened with what I personally find a sickening exhibition of fawning over the outgoing and incoming mayors.  (The post is one I myself would abolish.)  The outgoing mayor, Sylvia Jones, made a heart rending speech about how she had “brought respect back to the role of mayor.”  Not difficult really when her predecessor was reprimanded by Standards Committee for telling a member to “sit down and give your arse a chance.” 
In a speech which I am sure was not intended to be as arrogant as it came across she said she had brought procedures back to ensure that the Mayor was greeted properly when on official business and that visitors to the Mayor’s parlour were also treated properly (bring back the booze stash did they?). 
She thanked staff and said that she even ‘embraced the cleaner’ as you have to treat all staff with respect.  Now I would have thought this went without saying, why should the cleaner be singled out any more than her secretary or chauffeur?  Is the cleaner less worthy?  Obviously the Labour class system rules it is so.
The best was yet to come though, when after a nauseating display of false camaraderie whilst the new Mayor and Deputy were dubbed and the new leader anointed it was the turn of the new Deputy Leader.  None other than ex Police Officer Paul Cannon who proceeded to show himself to be a truly nasty minded piece of work.
Yes, the same Paul Cannon who wants to be the South Wales Police Commissioner.  Well I have never thought much of the man in the past, we have had our run ins, but after tonight’s disgusting display my opinion is that he is not fit to lick the boots of most Police Officers never mind govern them.
The same Paul Cannon who as Cabinet member for Economic Development (a post he retains) said that he intends to do ‘”absolutely nothing” about the poor take up of grants by Pontypridd businesses.
He decided to use his acceptance speech to have a major dig at the opposition.  After a singeing attack on Plaid he then went on to say that he wouldn’t name names but that labour would not be sidetracked by “showboating buffoonery” from certain opposition Councillors.  His demeanour and language were far from what should be expected in a Council Chamber and just showed him up as a rather angry individual whose temperament is surely ill suited to leadership.
Now presumably he thinks that attempting to hold the administration to account by asking questions is not the way to behave in the Chamber?
There are 60 Labour members in RCT now and 15 opposition.  Yet still they obviously feel threatened.  Hardly surprising really.  I’d take one Mike Powell over 60 of that motley crew any day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Democracy the Labour way

It seems that Labour’s bully boy tactics have come to the fore once again in RCT.  Not content with holding 60 out of 75 seats on the Council they appear to want to quash any attempts by others to hold them to account.

Following the May 3rd election talks were held between Mike Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor for Trallwn, the sole Conservative Councillor, and the newly elected Independent Councillors regarding forming a group.

An agreement was reached with Cllr James, Conservative, and two of the Independent Councillors to do just that.  The group, to be called the Democratic Alliance Group, would have been a loose alliance formed merely to enable members to take advantage of the scrutiny system.  There would have been no obligation for them to vote in the same way, and no party political influence brought to bear on Independent members.

Unless a Councillor is a member of a group then he / she gets no seats on any of the scrutiny committees which are supposed to hold the administration to account and give at least some outward semblance of democracy.

It seems that the Labour group want to stamp out even this low level of opposition.  Word was allegedly spread by the Labour councillor for Ferndale that the Independent member also representing this ward was in effect selling out to the electorate by joining forces with the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Tories.

Being new to the political hot bed that is RCT and the dirty tricks of the Labour party, the Councillor reacted in just the way Labour wanted him to, and pulled out of the group.

This now means that he will be operating completely on  his own in the Chamber and elsewhere, with no experienced Councillors to look to for advice.  He will not be able to sit on any of the scrutiny committees.  He is isolated.

Strangely enough the Labour party did not concern themselves with the Independence of mind of Independent members prior to this.  They had no concerns about it when they appointed Roger Turner Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny committee, even though he was a member of a group.  Of course Mr Turner later joined the Labour party having been rewarded sufficiently by them with his special responsibility allowance for several years.  He was allowed to hold on to that extra payment when the ruling group decided they no longer needed anyone independent to Chair it.
Democracy – it is a word the Labour party need to familiarize themselves with.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strategic political neutrality?

It has been a long week, and the after effects of the election have begun to kick in – aching legs, tiredness, the desire to stay in bed and throw the alarm clock across the room.
I do hope that Christian Hanagan has recovered – after all being Head of PR and Strategy is a tough job and needs someone on the ball with a new Council in place.
He was at the verification on Thursday night until gone midnight and then back again for the count on Friday.
I am not altogether sure what his status there was.  He is after all an officer of the Authority and as such supposed to be politically neutral, at least outwardly.  But he was there with the Labour party as one of their team.  Making sure his mother, Councillor Eudine Hanagan, was ok
I do hope that at the very least he booked time off to be there and wasn’t carrying out his political activities on taxpayers’ time. 

Poor, poor Russell

Just how stupid is Russell Roberts the former RCT Council leader who lost his seat on May 3rd
Speaking to the local press he said
“I think, for whatever reason, I’ve been targeted by some members of the opposition"
No s**t  Sherlock.  The main reason - apart from the wasteful spending and arrogant attitude of your administration -  is because you exhibited excessive greed in skimming over £100,000 from the public purse by lining up five jobs when one of them – leading the Council was supposed to be a full time post.
Any other employee trying that trick would have been ousted long ago.
‘Mr Roberts is now looking to the future and said he will look for opportunities in the public sector’
Would anyone like to place a bet on how soon Russ will find himself doing some cosy little consultancy job for his mates down the Bay at a very nice little salary?  Or maybe a sideline with the WLGA in recognition of all his sterling work for them.
Jobs for the boys?  Suits you Sir,

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What happens to Ponty paddling pool now?

Russell Roberts announced shortly before the election that he was stepping in to save Pontypridd paddling pool.  This after we started a petition against it, and the groundswell of public opinion became obvious.

However, it seems that this announcement was made out of the blue and there is no record of such a discussion being had or a decision being taken within the Council.

What happens now then that Russell is no longer leader or even a Councillor?  Will this promise still stand or will the new leader from the Cynon valley take a different view?

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Caption competition - love's labour's lost

Mr Alan Bevan. losing finalist at the try and unseat Cllr Mike Powell from Trallwn competition.

  • Glug, glug, going down.
  • Something smells rotten around here - oh, it's me.
  • This is harassment, taking photos of me, I'll report you to the Police.
  • A sea of red everywhere and I have to be knocked under by a yellow buoy.

Yet again Allen Bevan fails to unseat Mike Powell in Trallwn,  Do the Labour party really hate him that much that they put him back there again this time? Even on the back of such a massive swing to Labour this unpleasant little character couldn't get elected.  His unsavoury leaflets left almost as bad a taste as the ridiculous allegations of harassment he made against Mike just before the Assembly elections.

He couldn't turn up to a hustings last week because - so he told the organiser - he was still in mourning for his wife who died several months ago.  This didn't prevent him from contesting the election, putting out attack leaflets, knocking doors with Oily Smith.  But he couldn't manage to man up enough for a face to face fair and square quetsion and answer session.

This is an example of Labour at its worst. 

It's tough getting back on the horse, but we wil

I haven’t actually got out of bed yet, there is that sort of numb post election feeling you get when you have worked like hell and lost and are not quite sure what to do next. The housework doesn’t hold any great appeal, most non political friends have no idea why you are so down about things, and political allies are moping around doing the same as me.
Done the email thank you and ‘don’t give up’ bit – but it’s hard , even for an allegedly tough skinned, hardnosed street fighter like me, to get back up again after yet another bashing.
And what  a bashing it was – beyond what any of us could have expected.  It not only knocked us back years but, if it is any consolation, did the same to the Tories and perhaps more unexpectedly, Plaid.  Wales has gone back to its red roots, and who knows what damage that will cause.  But that is democracy for you.
I am no less deflated than anyone else .  In common with colleagues across Wales we in Rhondda Cynon Taff have worked damned hard, not just in recent weeks but in the case of some of us for years.  We did not deserve what happened, and it is no consolation at all knowing there is nothing any of us could have done about it.  Whatever we did on the doorstep, however many leaflets we delivered, it would not have been enough.
My biggest worry locally and nationally is that people will become disillusioned by this setback and fall by the wayside.  I can understand why some would want to just say forget it – part of me wishes I could, but there is a stubborn streak a mile wide which means I have just been putting together stats and looking at an application process to make Pontypridd a strategic seat.
There will no doubt be much discussion at all levels about the whys and wherefores in coming weeks. That discussion needs to be full and frank – but not held in haste or anger and not via the media.  We need to regroup and carry on the fight,  Teamwork is vital, and we need to build on that and also on the friendships and family feel that makes the Welsh Liberal Democrats unique.
I’ll get back on the horse, maybe a gentle walk for a few weeks rather than a gallop, but that stubborn streak won’t go away.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Welsh Lib Dems bring MP to Ponty residents

Well the residents of Ponty are seeing quite a bit of their Labour MP and AM this week as they run around with hapless candidates in places such as Trallwn where Mike Powell has been the County Councillor for the past thirteen years.   Also trying to shore up some of their more established faces in Tonteg where they are obviously a bit worried about me gaining ground. 

The campaign in some wards continues to get down to gutter level as Labour members / supporters again hide behind ridiculous usernames on local blogs.  It is such a cowardly practice.  If you have something to say then come out and say it. 

The Labour candidate in Treforest keeps on about being local and living in the ward as if that is the be all and end all.  I was asked by someone today though why he has put an application in to build a house in Glyncoch.  (here)  - perhaps he is building it for a family member or to rent?   Who knows, but I am sure he has an explanation.

Dirty tricks starting to come out

The Labour party in RCT are approaching this election in their usual manner.

Unable to rely on their own record they resort to snide comments, innuendo and sometimes outright lies.  Posts on local forums appear by new members who don't have the courage to post openly but hide behind strange nicknames.  One of our candidates in particular has been subject to such attacks (and for once it isn't Mike). They then feel safe to spread all manner of rumours and gossip.  Shame really that a party which once did so much for the working classes is reduced to such a level.

I am still awaiting contact from RCT  legal office after upsetting the Labour candidates in Tonteg.  Apparently at the community council meeting last week there was a discussion about my postal voter letter and a line which offended them.  The line is in no way illegal or anything that shouldn't be there, it is not a personal attack, and is nothing that breaks any rules but they are not used to actual campaigning and being criticised.  The fact that they brought it up at a community council meeting and asked the clerk of the council to bring it to the attention of the legal officer shows how they like to run that particular boys club.  It also shows a marked ignorance of procedure.  Still, I was looking forward to pointing that out to him.  One has so few pleasures on the campaign trail.