Saturday, March 31, 2012

Local Labour for Local People???

It has been obvious for some time that the Labour party locally have only one tactic for the coming Council elections it seems – keep talking about Westminster and hope it will divert attention away from their dismal failures in RCT.
However, even I was amazed to see the leaflets they were handing out in Pontypridd town centre.  “We should save nurses jobs - not waste money on a unwanted restructure of the NHS” was the first statement to catch my eye.  Odd, I thought, either they are too daft to realise that the Health Service is devolved and they are in charge of it at Cardiff Bay or they hope that their voters are.
Devolution has been with us for some time now and so you would think that Labour councillors at least would have got the hang of it.  Education, Health, Housing, Economic Development, Local Government – just some of the main areas which are under the control not of Westminster but of the Labour Welsh Government.
But wait, no, maybe I was too quick to judge, because I then turned it over and it became a little clearer.  Hand this form back to your ‘local Labour activist’ it said, or post it back to Labour Central – in Newcastle.   Promoted by the Labour party in London, and printed in that city too.
Good to see that the Labour party in RCT are putting local people first.  Maybe something of more relevance to the voters of RCT would be appropriate. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How will Labour manage for the next few weeks?

A few days ago the RCT Councillors received a document entitled  “Guidelines for Staff and Councillors during election periods.”

It contained such gems as this

“During the election period the Council needs to ensure it remains impartial. The Council cannot use public money to promote (or give the perception of promoting) one political party, or its policies, over another. 

Political parties and candidates can legitimately, in their own right, seek to influence their electorates.  Political groups and individual candidates may therefore issue their own press releases or public information (but not using the Council’s resources therefore).  However it should be clear that these represent the views of that political group and not the Council.”

And crucially:

During the election period all staff should:

b)         prevent any suggestion of political use of Council resources for the purpose of the promotion of any candidate or political party;

Now that is all very good and proper, and welcomed by all concerned no doubt, but those who have been keeping up with the antics of Labour in RCT will recall some concerns over the content of their website.

On that site there are photographs of a senior officer – Christian Hanagan, Head of Strategy and Public Relations

As I may have mentioned previously he is the son of a Labour Cabinet Member, and a former Labour Council candidate in RCT in 2008.  Not at all biased then.

So in light of the guidelines will be seeing the removal of his photograph from the RCT Labour website any time soon?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Labour blatant in use of public money for their propaganda

The latest copy of Labour’s election magazine arrived today.
Well, it claimed to be RCT Council newspaper, and is paid for from the Council budget, but it is hard to tell the difference.
It has had a revamp, changed format slightly, and is now called Outlook News.  The RCT Council website says it is available to download here.  In fact at the time of writing that does not have the latest issue on there.
The publication NEVER features any non Labour Councillors, and this particular edition is quite blatant in its efforts to blame the Westminster coalition for all the ills in the world.  There is a large section on Housing Benefits which claims that RCT are being over-run with extra work because of benefit changes imposed by the coalition. 
The piece on the budget and the raising of the Council Tax by 2.49% lays the blame with the Westminster Government and the cuts they have imposed on the Assembly.   Funny how this doesn’t seem to have affected Cardiff or Swansea in the same way!
The Labour party in RCT are completely shameless when it comes to milking the public purse.

It is not enough their leader is the highest paid Councillor in Wales, and their Cabinet Members take every penny they can wring out of the system. Not enough to employ the son of a Cabinet Member – himself a Labour party member and former council candidate  – and promote him without interview or the job being advertised to head up the public relations department.  Not enough to waste money on their jollies, to which they are ferried in the Council chauffeured car.

They are using  - some may say abusing - Council resources, paid for by the taxpayer, for their own publicity and political ends. Their local party website is full of Council press releases and photographs that they apparently paid the grand sum of £180 for using. The person who would have given them permission is presumably the aforementioned head of Public Relations and Strategy.

We are not sure if the parents of the children who appear gave their permission for their photos to be used in political material.

They are using taxpayers money to subsidise their election material.  Cllr Mike Powell got a telling off recently when he referred to them in the Council Chamber as ‘hypocritical parasites.’  Maybe you should make up your own minds on that one.   Personally I could think of a few more descriptions that would fit – although I am too polite to post them here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Rodney Berman telling it like it is

Excellent speech by Rodney  Berman to the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference at the weekend which highlights just what Welsh Lib Dems can  and do achieve in Local Government.
It also highlights some of the differences in approach between us and Labour. 
One section  I particularly liked was this:
When the Wales Audit Office said Labour-run Cardiff Council had paid out £2.5 million of allowances to Councillors unlawfully, our Labour leaders tried to challenge them in the high court causing a bill of £5 million to be rung up in legal fees trying to defend the indefensible.
But to be fair - there was one thing they were good at. In Russell Goodway, we did have the privilege of having the highest paid Council Leader in England & Wales!
I should point out that when he combined the roles of Leader of Cardiff Council and Lord Mayor, Russell Goodway only had two jobs paid for out of the public purse.
Labour's other Russell - Russell Roberts, the leader of RCT - and who is today the highest paid council leader in Wales - currently has no less than four jobs paid for out of the public purse.
As well as being leader of RCT Council, he's also chairman of the South Wales Police Authority, deputy leader of the Welsh Local Government Association and a non-executive director of Cwm Taf Health Board.
So when it comes to Labour, clearly nothing changes. It's not so much jobs for the boys as jobs for the boy.”

Says it all doesn’t it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Labour lies and Indies naivety

Can someone tell me just how this tale of how Labour Councillors have 'saved' Tonyrefail Police station matches up with this tale of station closures across South Wales?
Now someone seems to be trying to feed the public a line here.  Wonder who that could be?  Answers on a postcard please.
Meanwhile RCT Ratepayers Action Group members seem to be operating a step or two behind with this post on their Facebook page.

Steve O'Gorman

"I've just heard on the grapevine (second-hand info, but with good authority backing it up) that Aberdare Police Station has been earmarked for closure. All the existing provision will be relocated to Merthyr and/or Pontypridd. I can't name my source for obvious reasons..." Um, the Western Mail maybe?

Standards Committee to judge on Cabinet Member

Take a look at this
It is the report going to RCT Standards Committee on Wednesday following an investigation by the Ombudsman into allegations against Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member for Education Eudine Hanagan.
The Ombudsman finds that there is sufficient evidence of breaches of the Code of Conduct to refer the matter to the committee.  They can impose a sanction of up to 6 months suspension.  Whether or not they will is another matter entirely.
The report makes interesting reading for several reasons. It exposes the attitude of Cllr Hanagan and, in my opinion, her extreme naivety if not ineptitude.
It also shows yet again the hypocritical nature of the Labour group.  Their submissions constantly refer to the happenings in the Chamber that night as being part of the cut and thrust of debate.
Yet these are the same bunch who has been responsible for a stream of complaints against Cllr Mike Powell and indeed some against Cllr Bell for far less than this.   Councillors who pretended to be so upset over Mike referring to them as ‘hypocritical parasites’ (cut to the quick they were, such a personal attack on such lovely people) appear to think that Cllr Hanagan rubbishing John Bell’s professional ability as a EBP mentor is nothing more than banter.
The attitude of Labour Councillors is appalling – and for once available in black and white for all to see.
Teresa Bates who states that “I tend to switch off when Cllr Bell speaks.”   Cllr Craig Middle says the reaction of others was “amusement and bewilderment.”   (to potentially libellous remarks?)
I particularly like the comments of Paul Cannon – who is a particularly obnoxious character with ambitions to become Police Commissioner.
"I remember that after the meeting in the foyer outside the Chamber, Cllr Hanagan was approached by Ms Karen Roberts, a former Councillor, and an active Liberal Democrat (the same political party as Cllr Bell) and threatened her with the words “we’ve got you now.”  This suggested the attack was premeditated."
Premeditated?  Hanagan launches an attack on John Bell about his work and we have planned it?  I’m good but not that good, especially when I was in the public gallery.  And come on people 'we've got you now' does that sound like me?  I seem to recall it was more of a friendly smile and a "you messed up a bit there didn't you?" - she wasn't impressed.   But then this is the woman who once launched an attack on me in the car park in front of an Echo journalist for nothing more than being with Mike Powell at the time.
Cllr Jackie Jenkins “I tend to switch my brain off.” Really?
Cllr Jayne Ward says she sits behind Cllr Hanagan and cannot hear what is said if she is not using the microphone, and is across the Chamber from Cllr Bell and did not hear what he said.  Handy for debates then?  She obviously plays a full and active part and understands every time just what she is voting for????
Cllr Mark Norris seems to have trouble with hearing what is happening – odd as I could hear perfectly and I was outside of the Chamber itself.   He apologises for the lateness of his response as the form got lost at home.  Maybe he needs a secretary to organise his correspondence.  Or a sense of priority.
Cllr Maureen Webber states that members did “as always when this sort of thing happens, jeered, booed, told Cllr Bell to shut up.”  Sums up the behaviour of the Labour group perfectly.
The report also highlights the undemocratic processes which operate in RCT.
“You will note that it is the practice ein this Council not to set out a detailed note of the input of elected embers but to record the decision taken.  I took no notes of the exchange between Members at the meeting and the Committee Clerk, as is usual practice, destroyed her notes after preparation of the minutes.”
This from the Monitoring Officer who is supposedly responsible for ensuring Members do not breach the Code of Conduct.   Absolutely disgraceful.
But then democracy is still a word that exists only in the dictionary a far as RCT Labour are concerned.
Compare this to Welsh Lib Dem led Cardiff council where meetings are actually web cast and so there can be no doubt as to what is said.