Thursday, June 28, 2012

Playground politics

In the Blue corner we have the blonde bombshell, Tory Welsh Secretary Cheryl  ‘Chezza’ Gillan.  And in the red corner Shadow Secretary Pontypridd prowler Owen ‘Oily’ Smith.  Battling it out in a classic ‘he said’ ‘she said’ contest worthy of a nursery playground.
The subject?  Nothing important - just the reorganisation of the constituency boundaries in Wales and a possible change in the way in which we elect the people who govern this country. Nothing to trouble themselves about.
Oily seems to be a bit upset because Chezza called a meeting so that Welsh MPs could discuss it.  Allegedly (although he seems to have a different take on things) he complained that it was to be held on a Monday morning and MPs would have to cancel meetings in their constituencies to get there.
Surely this is not that rare an occurrence?  That MPs have to get to Westminster on a Monday for business of one kind or another.  And a look at Oily’s website doesn’t indicate that he is doing a lot in his constituency at the moment.
Grow up people.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hey, Owen, over here mate

Now I know being an MP (or indeed an AM) is not only about constituency business, there is a wider role to be undertaken as well and responsibilities beyond the narrow confines of parliamentary boundaries.
However, a balance needs to be struck, and elected representatives at all levels need to remember who put them there and where their first priority should be.
Owen Smith, MP for Pontypridd, seems to be struggling with that at the moment.  The news section on his website is full of articles in his capacity as Shadow Welsh Minister.  The first mention of Pontypridd comes on page 4, an article from the Ponty Observer on 24th May in which he promises to ‘continue to work hard for Pontypridd.’
But where is the evidence of that?  This week the leader of RCT Council announced that there were problems with the Pontypridd town precinct development – this in direct contrast to Owen’s assertion just seven days previously that everything was fine and work would start in August.
Maybe a word or two of clarification would help?  Maybe  a few questions from the MP on the subject?  A little of the jumping up and down in outrage that he is so fond of directing at the UK Government these days?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Communication is key - somebody obviously misunderstood

Perhaps Owen Smith was too excited by his recent Shadow Cabinet appointment, his mind was elsewhere?  Maybe Tony Christopher is still stunned at the loss of his mate Russell from the Council and he misheard what was being said?

Either way there seems to be a major gap in communication regarding the plans for the new precinct in Taff Street in Pontypridd.

RCT Welsh Lib Dems last week welcomed what seemed to be good news about the development when Ponty MP Owen Smith assured Ponty Observer readers that he had spoken to the developers and everything was ticketty boo.  The rumours have been going around like wildfire that the development was in trouble - they had failed to find enough tenants for the shops there and could not afford to risk pressing ahead without a guaranteed take up.  Obviously those rmours were ill founded and we could all rest easy knowing that the Labour party had saved Ponty.  Such a relief.

But wait, what is this?  Just seven days later in his column for the very same paper Tony Christopher has the opposite view.

The developers have told him they are in trouble and whilst they are fully committed to the project then they are "facing a number issues with their funding package.”

Did the note taker make a mistake?  Did one of them fall asleep momentarily during the conversation and missed a sentence or two?  Because obviously there is a major discrepancy here.

But I have no doubt that a full explanation will be forthcoming from the cabinet member responsible, Cllr Paul Cannon.  Well now he hasn't got the Police Commissioner election to worry about he can turn his attention fully back to the job.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The shame of the Welsh Government

I am developing an increasing liking for the columns of Matt Withers who, it seems, hits the nail on the head more often than not these days.
Take his column today in which he looks at Nick Clegg’s criticism of Carwyn Jones and his Welsh Government.  
‘The Welsh Government was guilty of “the politics of grievance, blame and finger-pointing”, he said, with “an increasingly shrill and narrow and ungenerous approach to how the spoils are divided within a increasingly devolved union”.
This, he added had made him a “staunch opponent” of fiscal devolution to Wales until the Welsh Government was prepared to shoulder more accountability and drop its current approach.
The sound in the background was Carwyn Jones’ advisers readying their responses. Angry words for the First Minister to hurl at Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams in the chamber this week. Anonymous briefings against Mr Clegg and his UK Cabinet colleagues, perhaps, to follow’

Mr Withers has certainly got Carwyn pegged

‘Carwyn Jones has cleverly set himself up as the only Minister of the Crown to also be a leader of the opposition. As the most senior elected Labour figure in Britain, to the outsider it can appear his role is to attack the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats first and be First Minister second.
Witness First Minister’s Questions, where he long ago gave up giving proper answers. To the Tories, he “will take no lessons from the party opposite”. To questions on the NHS, and controversial hospital restructuring in particular, come answers on Andrew Lansley’s even more controversial changes in England.
The Lib Dems’ questions are met with answers about propping up the Tories in London, and on supporting regional pay. Even Plaid Cymru, who are not and never will be in government at Westminster, are labelled “human shields” for the UK Government for letting them off the hook and attacking Labour in Cardiff Bay instead.’

The attitude of Carwyn and his followers makes a mockery of devolution.  Playing the blame game helps nobody. With greater powers comes greater responsibility, and those in charge owe it to the people of Wales to ensure those powers are used to best effect.  Or do they?  After all it was the people of Wales who allowed themselves to be duped by the Labour spin and who turned to them for perceived salvation from the dreaded Tories and us evil Lib Dems who are backing them.
As Matt points out
‘Perhaps that is all people want from their devolved government, after all – something to vent their anger and frustration at the administration in London. Mr Clegg may be furious about that. Others may just think it’s a bit of a shame.’
It’s that alright – a real shame, a shame for all the children who are not getting the standard of education they deserve, for those who have to put up with a below standard health service, for those who cannot get jobs because the Labour Welsh Government are too busy blaming the coalition to do anything useful themselves.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

What was that about a democratic society?

Youngsters in Bangor are to be banned from the city after 9pm unless accompanied by an adult.  Any ‘group’ of two or more young people under the age of 16 will be asked by Police to leave the area.
Wales Online reports that “failure to comply could lead to up to three months imprisonment and or a fine of up to £2,500.”
This is absolutely disgraceful.  The reason for the ban is because of reports of anti social behavior and underage drinking, but if that is the case why aren’t the Police and the Council dealing with the issue and not punishing every young person for the bad behaviour of a few?
How do they expect youngsters to grow up with any respect for society and authority if this is the way they are treated?

The report quotes Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch,

``The idea you could be fined or imprisoned for walking through the town centre simply because you are 15 and not accompanied by a parent is simply madness.

 “Criminalising every young person in Bangor – without any need for them to be engaged in any wrongdoing – is an unwarranted and disproportionate intrusion onto the civil liberties of thousands of perfectly law abiding young people.”

I agree with Nick!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good news at last for Ponty?

In his monthly column in the Pontypridd Observer Owen Smith MP gives a brief update on two issues that the Welsh Lib Dems locally have been concerned about for a long time

"First, the baths. The business case for redevelopment is progressing positively and I was delighted to see Labour council colleagues ruling out any closure of the small pool.

"Secondly, the precinct. I am in regular contact with developers and am told plans are on track. Over £6m funding has been secured for the next phase and construction should begin before the end of August,"

I hope this turns out to be the case.  We have been campaigning on the paddling pool issue for some time, and the change of heart by Russell Roberts came very late - just before the May election in fact.  Still we have been waiting far too long for redevelopment of the Lido.  Let's hope we don't have to wait too much longer.

Rumours have been rife regarding the precinct development - mainly that they have failed to attract enough businesses to the project.  This seems to dispel those rumours and again if it the case is good news at last.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cardiff Blues in the red

No I am not referring to the change of kit for Cardiff City - to be honest I have no interest in football and couldn't care less if they played in lime green, although it does seam a pretty daft move.

I am talking of course about Cardiff Blues, the 'regional' rugby team who recently announced they wanted to grace Sardis Rd with their presence.

According to the BBC It seems they have found themselves a little short of cash.  £2.3 million to be precise.

No doubt the WRU will be waiting in the wings with support though,  As short of cash as they always claim to be they surely wouldn't let one of their favoured few go to the wall.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Preserve our town centres - online at least

Wales Online reports on ‘A new online archive has been set up to show how Wales’ high streets looked before they came to be dominated by national chain stores.’
The website is collaboration between the National Library and the National Museum and comes at a time when empty shops are becoming more and more prevalent in many of our town centres, Pontypridd being a prime example.
Shops there are closing down it seems on a weekly basis.  The Council’s much vaunted Townscape Regeneration Scheme is having no affect whatsoever, and the regeneration work is taking place in a totally haphazard fashion which makes it a nightmare to walk through the town centre. All this helped by a traffic system which is a seemingly designed by a two year old (I apologize for insulting any two year olds.)
If anyone has any photos of Ponty then they had better upload them to the site fast, before any semblance of what was once was a thriving town centre is completely lost.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Same old lazy Labour ways

So the Council elections are over, Labour won a resounding majority in RCT, and so of course have reverted to their usual stance, cruising along just taking the public for granted.

They don’t have to make the effort now you see, as is evident from the local websites.  RCT Labour site shows the last update was on 11th May - the new leader’s local press column.  Since then nothing.  The banner still reads vote labour on May 3rd.
The Tonyrefail Labour site still features good old Russell no jobs, the leader who lost his seat last month, and an extremely outdated story about a candidate who left Plaid to stand as an Independent.
No doubt there will be a dearth of leaflets from Labour Councillors too.  After all they have got what they wanted for now, they can take it easy for a while.