Thursday, January 30, 2014

Apologise to the miners? Labour should be first in line

It is 30 years since the miners’ strike and certain Labour party members are dancing up and down  - I can only assume in an effort to gain some brownie points in their communities – demanding an apology from the Conservatives.

Cynon Valley AM Chris Chapman has joined in, tabling a statement of opinion at the Assembly which

“Acknowledges that many families and Welsh coalfield communities still remain deeply affected by the scars of the dispute; closure of mines; and job and industry losses” and

“Calls on the Conservative Party to issue an apology for the actions of the Thatcher Government during the strike.”

Now last I heard Mrs Thatcher was dead, why on earth should anyone apologise on her behalf thirty years after the event?  If the Labour party are looking for apologies then maybe they could look a little closer to home.

How about an apology from former Pontypridd MP Kim Howells?  At the time of the strike he was a miner’s rep.  When two striking miners killed a taxi driver by dropping a concrete block off a bridge over the A470 Mr Howells first thought was to run back to the office to destroy documents that may incriminate the union.

In his own words, as reported by The Guardian in 2004

 “I thought, hang on, we've got all these records we've kept at the NUM' offices, there is all those maps on the wall. We are going to get implicated in this. I remember thinking I've got to get to that office, I've got to destroy everything - and I did.”

David Wilkie, a father of four was killed and his reaction was to protect the union!

Then of course there is the current AM for Pontypridd Mick Antoniw. He was a partner in a firm of solicitors who were "severely reprimanded" and fined costs amounting to £88,000 by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority for irregularities involving miners' compensation claims.

Miner’s compensation cases were referred to his law firm Thompsons by the Unions. Thompsons failed to inform the miners that they did not have to use their services if they did not wish to. They then proceeded to skim off £10.9m from the settlements it secured for clients and paid it to the unions in the guise of 'administrative charges'

Maybe Mr Antoniw would like to make a public apology for that?

I am not condoning Tory policies or actions, but the Labour party have done nothing for this country and nothing to replace the jobs that were lost when the mines closed. The hypocrisy coming from some of them stinks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is Pontypridd MP in the know or out of the loop

The Pontypridd Observer today carried a front page article on the proposed changes to the school catchment areas for Y Pant and Bryncelynnog schools, and the campaign to stop them going ahead.

The piece continued on the inside and included comments from Pontypridd MP Owen Smith which were rather puzzling. He started off by saying that he was “disappointed to have learned about the decision through the media as I believe we should be consulting far more widely and openly amongst parents, schools, local communities and representatives before such important decisions are agreed.”

Now this is odd as the Cabinet last week decided that the proposals should go out to consultation not that they should take place.  There will be consultation with those Mr Smith mentions – although given other recent consultations people may be forgiven for wondering if there is any point.

This would suggest that either Mr Smith has little faith in the consultation process and that he assumes the decision is as good as taken, or that he has some insider knowledge that says it to all intents and purposes has been.

 His next paragraph adds to the confusion. 

“I have now asked the council to brief me about their decision and I will also seek to meet with parents and local schools to discuss matters before I submit my own views to the consultation.”

Now which is it – have they decided or are they consulting?

The whole article suggests that the relationship between Mr Smith and his Labour Council colleagues is somewhat strained. It also suggests that maybe he needs to make sure that his press officer is fully briefed and at least aims for a degree of consistency within an article. Perhaps he could take advice off the RCT Council PR department – it’s certainly big enough,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Your constituency should come first Mick

The twitter feed of the Pontypridd Labour AM Mick Antoniw has gone into overtime in recent days as the Newport living AM shows his eagerness to let the people he represents know what he is doing for them.

So what has caused this flurry of activity? The announcement that his Labour colleagues at RCT Council are going to increase Council Tax by a scandalous 4.5%, or that this will be topped up by a 5% Police precept increase from his Labour mate the Police Commissioner?

Maybe it is the planned closure of the Muni – after all he has been very supportive of the new theatre in Tonyrefail, and is a great fan of the Cory Band (even though they are Rhondda based.).  He won’t want to see the Muni go.

Perhaps the way in which Rhydyfelin and Hawthorn residents have been let down with the sudden u-turn by Labour on the library – initially to stay open the Cabinet (including the Councillor for Rhydyfelin) suddenly changed their minds.

Nursery education cuts have been causing great upset across his constituency, he has seen the problems this is going to cause and the affect it will have on children in RCT and is leading the fight back?

No, none of the above.  Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, who doesn’t spend a great deal of time in his constituency anyway between his work at the Assembly and his home in Newport, has been tweeting constantly about his visit this week to Kiev and the civil unrest taking place there.

Now whilst there is nothing wrong with AMs taking an interest in foreign affairs,  it would be nice if now and again he took a little more interest in what goes on in the constituency he represents. Nobody is saying he shouldn't be able to do things elsewhere, but it appears that his constituency always comes in second place to whatever campaign he is involved in at any time.

Looking at his twitter and Facebook accounts it appears the only things he does within his constituency is tag along with the MP on the odd visit and spend his time in local chip shops.  Of course we have some very fine chip shops, but do they need quite so many visits from their Assembly Member?  Publicly advertised ones anyway.

A look at Mr Antoniw’s website would seem to indicate a similar imbalance between his general interests and those of the residents he is supposedly elected to serve. With everything that is going on locally surely residents could expect some sort of comment?   


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

You will do what we say - Labour way or the highway in RCT

Well the Labour lot on RCT Council surpassed themselves again today.  Two Cabinet meetings were held, the first to announce a consultation on phase 2 cuts and the second to receive feedback and make decisions of the phase 1 proposals.

The PR department and the Council’s resident tweeter fell silent, not a word came across the ether about these two important meetings.  Maybe they were too tired out form all the Nos Galon tweeting they did, poor things.

Still, they obviously expected crowds to descend on Council HQ.  Hence the presence of three civil enforcement officers to ensure that people did not park on the yellow lines on the road leading up to the offices – the same yellow lines people (councillors included) regularly park on for every council meeting.  It was obviously a free for all in other areas of the Rhondda today.

Both meetings began with the same warning – that the public were welcome but no shouting for the gallery, and no photos.  The second meeting had an extra warning from the legal officer – no using social media to report the meeting from the Chamber. They wouldn’t want the public getting wind of what is going on there would they?

 I waited eagerly to see which members of the public would be allowed to speak – after all when he turned down my request to speak at the meeting Cllr Cannon said he had received many requests to speak and mine was being refused because I didn’t have a relevant interest. You can imagine my surprise then when not a single member of the public spoke at either meeting.  Had the all been turned down and if so why?

Cllr Cannon in the Chair laid down the rules, he was in charge and he would decide who could speak and for how long. When Plaid’s Cllr Jarman complained about a procedural matter he retorted sternly that “This is a Cabinet meeting, it is OUR meeting not yours.”

I suppose the next step will be to enlarge all the doors at Council HQ for the inflated heads of the Labour Cabinet to fit through.






Friday, January 03, 2014

Cllr Cannon and the Labour lot – scared, stupid or simply stubborn?

Next Wednesday the Labour Cabinet in RCT meet to launch the so called consultation on the second round of the savage Labour cuts and to consider the feedback from the public on the first round.

The first round included cutbacks in nursery education, youth provision, meals on wheels, libraries and day centres.

Cabinet meetings are of course open to the public, and members of the public are invited to submit requests to speak if they have a relevant interest.  So as someone with a relevant interest I did just that.  

I am Chair of the Cwmclydach Development Trust which runs a Day Nursery – our business could be directly affected by the decision made.  I am Vice Chair of Governors at a secondary school – our E3 provision will be affected by the withdrawal of transport, and we anticipate that our homework clubs will suffer as a result.

I have an interest, albeit less directly, in Clydach Vale Boys and Girls Club where the youth club is currently based – plans to remove funding for it will certainly have an effect on provision there. The building may become unsustainable and as it currently houses our holiday play schemes then it will affect our Trust.

Yet, surprise, surprise, today I received an email which states:

Dear Ms.Roberts,
The Cabinet Office has already received a number of requests to contribute to the meeting.
Your request has been considered by the Chair and it is felt that you do not have a relevant interest in the matters being discussed.

So Deputy Leader Paul Cannon, whom I presume is still in the driving seat owing to the Leader’s illness, has decided that I do not have a relevant interest.  Really?  How much more relevant could it get then?

Maybe they are scared that myself and others actually know more than they do about some of the subjects under discussion.  If the public report is anything to go by then that wouldn’t be difficult.

A cynic may well think that Cllr Cannon is simply playing political games, which given the seriousness of the proposals is indeed sad.  From a political viewpoint it is also quite stupid.

You see, whatever I was going to say regarding childcare provision and youth provision I can say to a much wider audience anyway via social media. So should I be looking to score political points from that then I can do so fairly easily.  What this frankly daft decision does is now give the opportunity to point out to everyone exactly how undemocratic the Labour Cabinet are.

Politically it shows a marked naivety.  Maybe they should be looking for some better strategic advice on the subject.  Scared, stupid or simply stubborn – probably all three.