Monday, August 19, 2013

Putting your head above the parapet – and why people won’t bother

It is a simple but unfortunate fact of life that the minute anyone puts their head above the parapet and starts making their presence felt in the community there is someone there waiting to shoot them down.

This applies whether that is becoming involved with a voluntary project or standing for public office, and sometimes you can’t do right for doing wrong,

I have been involved in a substantial number of voluntary organisations over the years – still am, and whilst most people will probably say “good for you” then there are always those who will whisper behind the scenes “there must be something in it for her.”

They will only see what they want to see – school governors getting front row concert seats for instance.  They don’t see or don’t want to know about the not so nice side of the job – the disciplinary hearings, the staff interviews, the pages and pages of policy documents and statistics to pour over, the decisions that can affect future prospects of a generation.

So why do it?  Because it is rewarding in its own way, at the risk of sounding holier than though, doing something that actually benefits the community.

Those who dare to stand for public office of course leave themselves open to even more condemnation, and lord help those who get elected.

It maybe explains why the Labour party locally like to hide away from the electorate and don’t like to engage in any way with residents let lone opponents.  Mick Antoniw, AM for Ponty has blocked me from commenting on his Twitter feed – no doubt because he had no answers to the questions being posed. I wonder how many others have befallen the same fate.

The Councillor for Treforest has this week been bemoaning the fact that a local Facebook site is becoming too political, yet refused to join other sites where he could answer questions being posed about such things as his stance on the paddling pool.

Then those who do engage more openly have to suffer endless comments about how “all Councillors are the same” and how they are all in it for the money, all liars, etc., etc.

Is it any wonder then that most people seeing just what a thankless task it is would never entertain the thought of standing for Council?  And whilst that nonsense is being perpetuated then making any real change is going to be very hard.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Labour lies and misdirection – give it a rest Tony

Another month, another column in the local press from Council leader Anthony Christopher.  The subject this week?  Well what else but the decisions they are being ‘forced’ to make because of the UK Government.

Absolute complete and utter bull.  This time he (or probably one of the highly paid members of the strategy department - £1m a year for Labour propaganda) writes “the first casualty of the Tory/Liberal cuts were the paddling pools at Penygraig. Trealaw and Penrhys.
Now apart from this being completely incorrect, he (or they) really should keep more track of what they are saying.  I thought the fortnightly refuse collections and the charges for bulky waste collection were blamed on the cuts?  As well as every other thing the Labour Council have decided to do that they think the public may not like.

The Council decides on what to do with its money, the money that comes from the Welsh Labour Government.  They decide to spend £70,000 or so a year on a newspaper to publicise themselves.  They employ a huge publicity department at a cost of over a million a year, headed by the son of a Cabinet Member, a former Labour candidate.  Someone who, by the way, was promoted rapidly from within to a post that didn’t previously exist, which was not advertised and which no interviews were held for.

They decide to give massive extra payments to people so they leave under a ‘voluntary redundancy’ banner.  They fund union representatives so that they can then sell out their own workers, cutting their terms and conditions and threatening zero hours contracts for home care staff.

They make me sick. Grow a backbone and take some responsibility for once.

Proud to be part of Tonypandy Community College

'A' level results are out today and there is excellent news from Tonypandy Community College where I am proud to have been the Vice Chair of Governors for several years.

As reported on the College website, our 6th form students achieved the best results in the College history.

Whilst the media reports an overall stagnation in results across Wales, we have bucked the trend. 

63% of all grades gained were A* and A grades.

83% of all grades were A* – C grades.

99% of all certificates were A* – E grades.

The top achieving student achieved 3 A*, an A and a B.

Not bad at all for a school that according to the Welsh Government ludicrous banding system is in a band 4!

Many congratulations are due to students and staff for this excellent result.  I am proud to be able to play a small part in the success.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Labour Councillors kept quiet over paddling pool plans

It has been confirmed that Labour Councillors knew about paddling pool closures in Mid Rhondda a month in advance and chose to keep quiet about it.

Labour Councillors in the Rhondda were informed by the Director on Friday 15th June that paddling pools in Trealaw and Penygraig would not be opening this year.  In response to a question from Welsh Liberal Democrat Cllr Mike Powell the group Director responsible stated that

“Myself and Councillor Bevan met the local members involved (Cllr Dennis Weeks, Cllr Ken Privett, Cllr Joy Rosser and Cllr Sylvia Jones) on Friday 15th June 2013 to inform them of the situation and the closures.”

The third pool which has not been opened is in Penrhys which is in Cllr Bevan’s own ward. 

It begs the question – just who do these Councillors think they are there to represent?  The answer is obvious – the Labour party and their own self-serving needs. Why didn’t they inform their constituents of what was happening?  Were they too lazy, or too cowardly to face the backlash?

The reason given was that it would have cost approximately £15-£16k on each site to undertake repair work in order to open them up. Unfortunately there was no budget available in Leisure Services to undertake this work.”

If the Councillors responsible thought this was a good enough reason then why not explain that residents? It is unlikely that these pools will reopen in subsequent seasons.  The costs of repair will be even more once they are left for another year. 

There seems to have been little action lately from protestors.  The Facebook site set up for the purpose of initiating a campaign has been very quiet of late. I was removed from there, no reason was given but apparently someone thought I was being a bit too political.  (This after I had brought the issue to the attention of the local press and ITV news and managed to get considerable publicity.)  There is apparently a petition doing the rounds, but the season is half over. 

It is I think a fair assumption that this will only be the start, and it is true that cut backs need to be made, but as has been asked why all in the same Mid Rhondda area?  Those in the Cynon Valley all remain open. Of course there are none to close in Pontypridd.  The only paddling pool there is in Ynysangharad Park, and that will be going when the Labour Council plough ahead with their hugely unpopular plans for the new Lido. 

The main question is why can’t Labour Councillors and Cabinet Members be honest with the people and tell them exactly what their plans are?  Or is that a little too much to expect?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A reason to vote Labour?

Rather odd story on Wales Online regarding a call from a Welsh Labour MP for Ed Milliband to give voters a stronger reason to vote Labour.
Geraint Davies said the party looked like a “shamefaced schoolboy” by not rebutting Tory accusations that Labour was responsible for the economic mess.

Maybe that is because they have no answer, they know that they were indeed responsible and maybe some admission of that would help their cause.  Instead they appear more and more hapless by the day.

Perhaps they should look towards Labour’s outstanding record in Wales, pointing out their successes there, using that as a shining example to follow.

Take education for instance.  Wales is setting a perfect example – on how not to do things.  Lingering way down the international league tables with little hope of making great strides forward any time soon.  The former Education Minister was more interested in his nonsensical banding scheme than in doing anything to actually drive up standards.

Our pupils are greatly under-funded in comparison with those in England.  In England the Liberal Democrats introduced a pupil premium which gave £430 to schools for every pupil on free school meals.  That has now gone up to £1,300 for 2014 – 2015.  In Wales thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats budget negotiations last year we introduced a grant of £450 per free school meals pupil.  The Labour Government here has no plans to increase it.

Ok so what about Labour’s health record in Wales – surely that must be something to crow about.  Or maybe not.  More is sent on the helath service per person in Wales than in England but that is the only positive.  We certainly don’t get value for money.  Abysmal ambulance response times, longer waitingtimes for treatment,  A&E departments on the point of ‘meltdown.

Housing, surely some good news there?  But then again……  Whilst in England the coalition Government has introduced a variety of measures to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder in Wales the Labour Government have yet again failed us. 

 It is not only Ed Milliband who should be looking like a shamefaced schoolboy.