Friday, November 30, 2012

Labour’s hypocritical streak showing again Owen?

The Western Mail today carries a report on the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Winston Roddick, who apparently intends to carry on practicising as a Barrister whilst carrying out this role.

Pontypridd MP and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith is quoted as saying he finds it “extraordinary” that he is not treating the post as full time.  Now whilst I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr Smith on the principle, the hypocrisy and political opportunism exhibited is getting tiresome.

Would Mr Smith have been so keen to condemn this if the individual had been a Labour party member?  I don’t seem to remember him knocking former leader of RCT Council Russell three / four / five jobsRoberts for not sticking to being a full time leader of the Council.

Not a single word of criticism was heard from any Labour member as Russell raked inevery penny he could from the public purse. Now admittedly we may be talking slightly higher figures here, but the principle remains the same.  Although, as we are very much aware here in RCT principle and the Labour party are miles apart.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

They cannot be serious – Labour badgering S4C

You would think that Welsh Government Ministers have enough to be getting on with – sorting out our education system, addressing the staff shortages in our hospitals, actually doing something to address the issue of ambulance response times.  Instead what has been at the forefront of their agenda today?  Comments by a fictional character in a soap tucked away on S4C about badgers.

Yes, as reported by the BBC, Ministers have got their knickers in an ever increasing twist over a scene on Pobl Y Cwm in which a (fictional) farmer criticises the Government during an interview for a (fictional) radio station for not taking action to cull badgers. 

The Labour lot are apparently perturbed that they had no right of reply, and demanded that the episode not be repeated.  Of course they didn’t - this village doesn’t exist, neither does the farm, or the radio station. Where they supposed to find a fictional Minister to give the view of the Welsh Government? 

And it is not as if the opposing viewpoint isn’t put forward during the same episode.  A (fictional) barmaid later makes a comment that “farmers care about profits not animal welfare. They are responsible for spreading TB because they overstock. Badgers have a right to live".   Careful, you’ll have the NFU demanding that the programme be taken off the air – or maybe not, because they probably understand it is not real.

What is it with Labour and this control freak mentality of theirs?  And they can’t even put a name to their complaint.  The BBC quote a “spokesman.”

Really, they cannot be serious.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Latest Labour leaflet - paid for by the taxpayer

The latest edition of the RCT 'Newspaper' Outlook came through my door today. Full of the same shamelessly political nonsense as usual. Labour propaganda paid for by the taxpayer.

"Tough decisions ahead" the front page headline reads "frontline services to be protected." Well maybe they could protect a few more frontline services if they cut down on the amount of money they spend blowing their own trumpet. Not only on this blatant piece of Labour party marketing but on the whole PR set up.

The front page story goes on to give the usual sob story about how poor RCT have been hard done by because of the nasty Westminster Government. Meanwhile the Labour heroes in Cardiff Bay are riding around on their white horses, armour glistening (probably catching the light that shines from their backsides) protecting the people of Wales from those on the dark side.

Yet again they have forgotten that it was the Welsh Government who set the Council budget and decided RCT should have a rise of only 0.36%, the second lowest in Wales. This is flagrant politics, and the Labour party are more than happy to let the residents of RCT pay for it to be shoved down their throats.

Still, I am sure the people of Pontypridd town will be pleased to hear of the make over at Llantrisant Leisure Centre and the excellent new facilities being built at Aberdare. There is no mention of the Labour administration telling the people of that area to shove their paddling pool vote!

They will be thrilled to know the regeneration works are coming along so well and will have people flocking back to Pontypridd and Aberdare. They are, says the rag, perfect to visit at this time of year “thanks to their history and heritage.” Such as the paddling pool?

The Labour administration really ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing this nonsense to be peddled in their name. They kicked up enough fuss during Plaid’s short tenure in charge when they did much the same with their ‘Rapidly Changing Times’ as it was called then. But then Labour around here know no shame.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arrogance, pig-headedness, sheer stupidity - Labour at its best

Well I’ve had more than 24 hours now to calm down after the Council meeting and try and suspend my incredulity at the actions of the Labour group in relation to the paddling pool.

I have been at this business for quite a while now and little surprises me with regard to their arrogance and pig headedness in RCT but even I was staggered by the sheer overwhelming stupidity and ignorance theydisplayed.

The 2077 people who voted to save the paddling pool are to be completely ignored.  They are not going to think about it, or reconsider their options, or hold a meeting to explain why they feel keeping it is not an option.  They are not even going to pretend to do so.  No, this bunch of self-satisfied, egotistic idiots are not even going to pretend to listen, or that they care. 

Just how stupid are they?  Or is this just another example of the over confidence that comes from being in an area where traditionally the public vote for a donkey with a red rosette on?  As they keep saying over and over at every meeting, they were returned in May with an overwhelming majority with 60 out of 75 Councillors in RCT.  They can do what they like, and they will.

 Of course the votes for these 60 members are spread out across the whole of RCT, so having done the calculations they probably feel that 2077 across 9 wards is not a huge number of people for them to worry about.  Also of course the next elections are still four and a half years away, they hope people will have forgotten by then.

On the other hand, Owen Smith MP should, you would think, be looking at that number and wondering what on earth his Council colleagues are playing at.  Those 2077 people are almost all in his constituency (not quite all of course as Cilfynydd and Glyncoch are in the Cynon constituency) and they don’t have quite as long to forget before the Westminster elections.

The paddling pool fight is not over by any means, if anything the people who have been in touch with me by phone, email and facebook are now even more determined.    The Labour party keep saying this is all down to us, the ‘Lib Dems’ stirring.  As I have said before we are more than happy to take our fair share of the credit / blame whichever way you want to look at it.  But those 2077 people weren’t all politically motivated not by a long way.  In fact many of them I spoke to were Labour supporters – or used to be.

Democracy may appear to be well and truly dead in Rhondda Cynon Taff at the moment, but have no fear, we will be doing our utmost to restore it.  They don’t get rid of us that easily as they should have learned by now, and they won’t get rid of the members of the public who think they are wrong to remove the paddling pool.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Actions speak louder than words

“LEADING figures in the Tonyrefail community have joined forces to have their say on the future of their beloved town.

More than 100 people from local schools, community groups, churches and businesses took time out to read a new report by Owen Smith MP and Mick Antoniw AM on how the town can increase footfall, be promoted and boost its sense of community.”
This was the beginning of an article which appeared in the local press on 22nd March 2012 – oddly enough just as the Council election campaign started to get under way properly.

As far as I am aware very little appears to have happened since.  Although there was an apparently chance encounter between Mr Antoniw and Tonyrefail traders in September as reported in the Rhondda Leader.  After that slight run in the Pontypridd AM had to quickly get in touch with the Council and come back with a statement no doubt prepared by our favourite story teller Hans Christian Hanagan.
His colleague and co-author of the report Owen Smith made similar noises at a public meeting in Pontypridd some two years ago when he talked of a new forum for traders and residents in the town there.  Nothing has come of that either.  Yet more cynical politicking by Labour’s not so dynamic duo?





Friday, November 09, 2012

New town will only bring new problems

I have written previously of the proposed development forTalbot Green – the creation of a new town there which has caused some consternation amongst local residents and others.

Wales Online this week reported that Sainsbury’s is confirmed as the anchor store there.  The plans were submitted earlier this year and some consultation already carried out.

Amongst the responses, which can be found on the planning section of RCT website, is one from the Director of Development Services at The Vale of Glamorgan Council, objecting to the proposal on a number of grounds.

He says that no consideration has been made of the impact on retail centres in Barry and Cowbridge, which are as close to the development as “centres which have been examined such as Tonypandy and Ferndale.”
The Vale Council also objects on the grounds that there has been no traffic impact assessment in relation to the A4222 to Cowbridge and that there has been no discussions between the two Councils with regard to traffic distribution.  They therefore have concerns about highways traffic and safety.

The question has to be asked, if an adjacent Council is raising such concerns then why aren’t RCT Officers and Members asking the same questions?  Why was this ever put into the Local Development Plan?  As I have said before there are serious questions over whether the infrastructure can cope with this level of development tin this area.  Personally I don’t think it can.  Also what effect will this have on existing town centres?  The Vale of Glamorgan Council are obviously worried about that, why isn’t RCT?

What is their justification for this proposal?  We have enough shops lying empty and enough problems in existing retail areas within the County Borough.  Planning Policy Wales guidance is clear that development should first take place around existing town centres and that developments such as this should only take place in exceptional circumstances of the need is established beyond doubt.  Is that the case here?  I don’t think so.



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The endless hypocrisy of RCT Labour

Anthony Christopher spent many years as deputy leader in the shadow of his former colleague and leader Russell Roberts, but it seems he learned a few tricks from him along the way. The art of hypocrisy for example, and a certain penchant for conveniently forgetting anything that doesn’t fit into the fairy tale they keep peddling to the public.

His column in today’s Pontypridd Observer is again the sort of imaginative tale of which the Brothers Grimm would be proud. A fanciful tale of big bad wolves and knights in white armour riding to the protection of the underdog.

I quote

In October, we received the provisional local government settlement from the Welsh Government. Thanks to the cuts being imposed on the public sector by the Tories and Liberals in London, it makes for very grim reading.  The Welsh Government has once again done all it can to protect local government and the important public services we provide from these swingeing cuts being imposed on Wales.”

Heart rending stuff isn’t it?  Or vomit inducing, depending on your point of view.

The Labour party everywhere have a habit of either trying to rewrite history or forgetting that it existed in the first place., nowhere moreso than in RCT.  Luckily I keep records aplenty and am always more than willing to jog their memories and those of others.  And one of the great things about the internet and having a web site is that it is easy to refer back to letters to the press such as this one.
Their message was getting tired even then (Sept 2011) - Labour good, Westminster Government bad. They complained about cut backs in Council budgets, blaming it entirely on Westminster, overlooking the fact that their budget came from the Labour Welsh Government as it has for years.

The letter refers to some interesting quotes.  On 3rd January 2008 Russell Roberts was quoted as saying

"We have approached Rhodri Morgan (Labour First Minister) and Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid Deputy First Minister) to try to get an increase but we haven't heard from them since. We do now face some serious challenges in terms of providing local services"

In a letter to the Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons (Labour) at the time Russell wrote

"Given that the total Assembly pot is increasing by 4.8%, we are disappointed again with the lack of priority given to local government in the draft Assembly budget"

A year later again complaining about the budget settlement.

"The totally inadequate level of Assembly support has now forced us into reviewing service provision and fees and charging arrangements. The council's strong financial stability will not be comprised, which will ensure we maintain our core services that are being given short shrift by the politicians in Cardiff Bay."

So when Labour were in power in Westminster then the budget cuts were the fault of the Welsh Government.  But the minute the coalition Government took over in Westminster then cuts were all their fault, and the Welsh Government, who up until then had been the evil ones in all of this suddenly shined up their halos and put a protective shield around the good people of RCT.


As reported here the situation this year is far from new and there have been several very critical comments appearing in Council reports over recent years.  Yes times are hard, yes cut backs have to be made, but this degree of hypocrisy shows the Labour party for exactly what they are.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Just who is playing politics?

Yet again a predictable reaction to the paddling pool referendum vote on 1st November from the Labour Council in RCT.  As usual they lack the guts to actually face the public. - hence a statement from an anonymous‘spokesperson’ and a refusal to put anyone up for interview with ITV.  

The ‘spokesperson’ (at a guess Head of Strategy & Public Relations, son of Cabinet Member and former Labour Council candidate Christian Hanagan) said

 “It is disappointing that individuals have chosen to play politics with this hugely important project for the future of Pontypridd.”

Who can he (or she?) mean?  Surely not Mike Powell and me?  The ‘Lib Dems’ they try and dismiss with such contempt as being of no significance at all in RCT?  Do they seriously think we could engineer such an uprising of anger and indeed contempt for those who made this decision?

Yes we brought this to people's attention, yes we have publicized it, yes we were at the centre of the campaign, yes we wrote, printed and, alongside a swathe of volunteers who have nothing at all to do with the Party, delivered leaflets across the Ponty Town Council area.  It is an insult to them, and every one of the 2077 people who voted to save the pool yesterday to suggest that they were ‘playing politics.’

As I have said quite openly in the past there is of course a political element to this – the decision was made by politicians.  We opposed the removal of the paddling pool prior to the Council elections this year, indeed we have been opposing it since 2008 when the suggestion was first made.  It is one of the reasons Russell Roberts lied so blatantly about saving the pool – because he was afraid of losing votes.  As it happened it didn’t save him, but it was a cynical, calculated political ploy.

The statement from the faceless wonder goes on to say

 “When cuts to public sector funding by the UK government are forcing difficult decisions across the country, any amendments to the current proposals, which will effect the viability of the new Lido, place the entire scheme in jeopardy and potentially put at risk grant funding already made available.”

Leaving aside the bad grammar (it should be affect not effect) is this supposed to be a non-political statement?  I am just surprised the word ‘Con Dem’ did not appear this time as it did last time.  Mr X once again also seems to ignore a little thing called devolution – which means Local Government is under the control of the Welsh (Labour) Government.  They dish out the cash to Councils.

The people who came out to vote yesterday in the cold and the rain and the dark, voted despite the threats of the council that it could stop the lido development.  Is Mr X suggesting that they were all misguided?   Apparently so.

The Lido plans have several hurdles still to clear.  The listed building consent for the removal of the paddling pool has yet to be granted, and so far they only have a portion of the funding in place – WEFO have still to decide on whether to make an offer.

My bet is that the Labour Cabinet will stick to their arrogant, pig headed stance.  They will insist that the people of Pontypridd cannot have both the Lido and the paddling pool.  The project will fall apart, either because listed consent will not be granted or the rest of the funding will not be found - or because the Council will just put the brakes on. They will then blame it on us – the Lib Dems.  Hence their comments now about political mischief making, they want to make us the scapegoats.

Well if and when they do then we will quite happily plead guilty as charged. They have accused us of jumping on a bandwagon, but we built and drove this bandwagon.  We brought the plans to the attention of the public and stated our position quite clearly.  The public may not have agreed with us – we may have ended up with a deal of egg on our faces, but we still made a stance and stated clearly what we believed and what we wanted to see happen.

Mr X says that the Council will consider this in the wider context of the needs of RCT and the regeneration of Pontypridd, unlike the referendum.  How arrogant can they get?  Do they seriously think we are so shallow that we don’t consider the wider picture?  And what an insult to the people of Pontypridd.

You see the real problem the Labour Party in RCT have with us is that we don’t give up.  We stick to our principles, whether that makes us popular or not. We actually believe in what we do, and we care about the communities in which we live.  For us it is what the politics is all about – making things better and representing the best interests of the people.  Oh we are not perfect, and certainly not right all the time - who is?  But we don’t give up and we don’t give in and we certainly don’t bow down to bullies. And that they just don’t understand.

2077 people can't be wrong Owen

Owen Smith came down off the fence in the Ponty Observer this week and backed his Labour Council colleagues (what a surprise) over the Lido plans which would see the removal of the paddling pool from Ynysangharad Park.

People need to move on, he said, forget the emotion associated with the pool and press forward.

Well Owen it seems people have moved on - they have moved on from thinking they should sit back and take all the crap your colleagues are handing out.  They have decided to make a stand.  2077 voted in favour of retaining the paddling pool, in spite of the threats and bullying tactics employed by your Council mates.

Cllr Christopher doesn't need to worry about Pontypridd votes - he is a Cynon Valley Councillor, it is easy for him to dismiss the feelings of the residents of Pontypridd.  You on the other hand need to be a little more careful.  You are next in line election wise, and be very sure people will not forget where your loyalties lay, and we will be there to remind them.  When push came to shove you came down on the side of your Labour Council mates rather than the people you are supposed to represent. 2077 of your constituents voted to keep the paddling pool. Are they all misguided?