Gwynedd councillor shortlisted for UK awards
A Gwynedd councillor has been nominated as a Young Councillor of the Year in a UK-wide awards ceremony.
Councillor Mair Rowlands who was elected as a county councillor for Bangor’s Menai ward in 2012 at the age of 23 has been nominated for the 2015 Councillor Achievement Awards by her fellow councillor, Elin Walker Jones.
She said: “It was a huge surprise when I was told that I’d been nominated for this award and indeed been selected on the shortlist for young councillors from across the UK.
Fears over top-down, less accountable planning system
Plaid Cymru has expressed grave concerns that the proposed Planning (Wales) Bill will take decisions further away from communities and will erode the democratic accountability of decision-making over land use in Wales.
The party has called for root and branch reform of the planning system to strengthen local voices, but Llyr Gruffydd fears the current Government Bill creates a top-down regime that will take decisions further away from the decisions that affect them.
Council Mergers Bizarre
Letter to the press from Phil Edwards
"Whichever way one looks at it, whether supporter of Conwy Council merging with Denbighshire or not, the whole process has proved to be very bizarre indeed.
Last year, following the publication of the 'Williams' report, we were left in no doubt by the Welsh government that the merger of the two authorities WOULD take place.
In an effort then to be in the driving seat of this 'inevitable' merger Councillors in Conwy were 'encouraged' to put a business case forward. Incredibly, this was to prove to the Welsh Government that we could do what they said was going to happen anyway.
So we set about working through the business case, putting a great deal of effort into pulling it together and submitted it within the very tight time frame that was set for us. There will have been a huge cost to this in staff time alone.
Today we learnt, quite unexpectedly that our business case to merge the councils as the Government wanted us to, did not meet their criteria, even though it was their own criteria and even though it was recommended in the Williams report.
What was it that could have brought about this sudden and dramatic change of heart? We don't know.
So, what happens next you may ask. No one seems to know that either, least of all the Welsh Government, or if they do, they are not sharing it with us.
I have only one question left. What sort of way is this to run our nation? I do have an answer to that. Not this bizarre way!"
Local Government Settlement
18 1 2015 Speaking on the Local Government Settlement, the Party of Wales Finance spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones said:
“The Local Government settlement proposed today represents a cut of £145 million to the Local Government budget, and stems from the austerity agenda of the Westminster-based parties. Yet it was not our public services that caused the financial crisis. We are being told that the economic recovery has now taken hold, but there is still an on-going attempt to drive down public spending. As this austerity agenda continues at both a UK and Welsh level, we will see a continued retreat of public services from our communities. Plaid Cymru opposed the Welsh Government’s budget for 2105/16 based on the reckless way the Welsh Government took its decision to blow £1 billion on the M4. Plaid Cymru is a party that values public services, and it is important that we fight to protect the libraries, leisure centres and community services that we depend on.”
Fair Council Pay
Local authorities should be the benchmark of fair and consistent pay, Plaid Cymru has said.
Speaking after a debate was held on senior officer pay, the Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood said that the inconsistency within local government over pay ratios was alarming and unjust.
In an analysis of the best performing local authorities in terms of pay ratios, Plaid Cymru-led councils perform best, with Ceredigion coming first, Conwy second and Gwynedd fourth.
Leanne Wood said that while the living wage should become statutory across all sectors in the next Westminster Parliament, it was also important to exercise pay restraint at the top
Victory in Carmarthen
AGM 2014 Report
The chair warmly welcomed Elfyn Llwyd to the meeting as guest speaker. Elfyn was first elected in 1992 and will be retiring from Parliament in 2015. He was noted for securing landmark anti-stalking legislation. He is seeking tougher measures against domestic violence and hopes that “veterans’ courts will soon be in use in the UK.
He was the first MP to call for a Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Further the Plaid group was the first to pioneer the case for getting greater support for veterans of the armed forces who encounter problems when they return home.
Elfyn had pushed for tougher laws on domestic violence earlier this year and has “high hopes” that a change in the legislation is on the way.
Elfyn highlighted the dangers of the Assembly sucking powers from councils. This was a danger as many in the Assembly considered that the institution did not have enough powers. Even worse Labour did not believe in Local Government and the relationship between Labour AMs and Councillors were fraught.
Members’ comments included:
It was important to note that co-operation between councils was continuing.
The 2016 manifesto must give the clear message that Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales fully supported a strong, well funded level of County Councils.
The meeting supported change but it must be on a voluntary basis.
There was a need for an overview of events taking place across the county
There is a need to engage more with the Assembly.
The advantage of more council focused conferences should be explored.
Finance. The2013 Financial Statement was presented by the Treasurer and reported that the funds of the Association showed a health balance. He further reported an increase in membership fees received in 2014 which would be included in the 2014 Statement.
The following officers were elected:
Chairperson: Phil Bevan email@example.com
Sian Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
Sectretary: Chris Franks email@example.com
Treasurer: John Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org
NEC representative: Phil Bevan email@example.com
Town and Community council Representative: Del Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor of "Cyngor" Sian Thomas email@example.com
Geraint Davies Geraint.R.Davies@rhondda-cynon-taff.gov.uk
Alun Lenny AlunLenny@carmarthenshire.gov.uk
The conference edition of the Associations newsletter "Cyngor" is available here :
Local Government Cuts : Emergency Conference Motion
Councillor Phil BevanConference passed unanimously the Associations Emergency Motion on the cuts being imposed by the Welsh government :
"Conference notes the further reduction in WG financial support for local authorities. This is on top of the previous year’s reductions. The impact on many services that are valued by communities such as libraries, swimming pools, highway maintenance, environmental schemes and traffic management projects could be significant. However even key services such as Education and Social Services might not be immune from financial cuts.
Conference deplores the failure of Labour to effectively protect local services.
Further Conference deplores the level of control that WG exercises over many Council matters with an excessive degree of interference, regulation and management.
Conference calls on the party to campaign vigorously against these challenges to a fair and civilised society and;
Calls on the party to seek to restore to councils significant amounts of authority and fair funding to run services for the benefit of local communities."
Elfyn Llwyd Guest speaker at Association AGM
County Council Cuts 2014 -15
Apart from Wrexham, the 14 County Councils (out of 22) having the least cuts in Welsh Government funding are all Labour controlled, albeit 3 with Independent councillors. None of the 8 councils with the highest cuts are Labour (although Conwy’s coalition has a Labour component) – these include the 2 Plaid controlled councils (1st and 6th highest cuts).
Local Government Symposium
Participants at the successful local government symposium organised by the Association in Aberystwyth at the end of September
Education Bulletin October 2014
"I have pressed the Welsh Education Minister in the Senedd chamber over his failure to protect the education and skills budget from in-year cuts............"
Plaid Leader Cleared
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has dismissed claims that Cardiff Plaid Leader Coun Neil McEvoy had made “misleading claims” to constituents about the Cardiff LDP.
The Public Services Ombudsman, in a letter sent to Coun McEvoy, said no further action taken.
The letter states : “Councillor McEvoy is entitled to his views about the LDP proposals. “Councillor McEvoy was doing no more than raising awareness of the proposals as they might affect the community and ward which he was elected to represent. In other words, he was simply performing his function.”
Coun McEvoy said: “The Ombudsman has been very clear and dismissed the council’s accusations out of hand. I will now be demanding answers about the proposal of a rapid transit corridor through Fairwater and Cowbridge Road East and a proposed rail line through existing housing in Fairwater. Our residents deserve nothing less than answers after the Ombudsman’s conclusion. The public now know who has and had not been telling the truth.”
Plaid councillors warn against proposed local government shake-up
The Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly council have declared their opposition to plans to merge the authority with neighbouring Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen councils.
Plaid Gain in Blaenau Gwent
Aberbeeg ward on in Aberbeeg and Llanhilleth has a new Plaid councillor Ivor Beynon was elected unopposed on July 3rd.
Another Plaid Victory
Pontardawe Town Council has a new Councillor in Trebanws Ward. Charlotte Ford – Plaid Cymru. In a by-election in a strong Labour Ward, she won by 179 against 90, that’s 66% of the vote!
Charlotte Ford with County Councillor Rebecca Lewis
Crime Prevention Scheme Scrapped
Plaid Cymru is urging the Dyfed-Powys Police Commissioner to step in stop a highly-effective crime prevention scheme from being scrapped. Over the past 15 years, the Bobby Van scheme has helped more than 30,000 householders – mostly elderly and vulnerable people – to secure their homes and make them feel safe. But now it’s due to end. In asking Police Commissioner Christopher Salmon to intervene, Cllr Emlyn Dole, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Carmarthenshire County Council, stongly criticised the Chief Constable for scrapping such a remarkably successful scheme
Strategic Plans for Welsh Education
Education Bulletin 19/06/14
This week I quizzed the First Minister over Welsh medium education plans.
The Welsh Government’s strategic plan for Welsh-medium education sets a target of 30% of seven-year-olds being educated through the medium of Welsh by 2020. However, if you look at the strategic plans as they have been brought forward to date, it is impossible to see how they will attain that target because only five of them make any mention of new schools.
Plaid Cymru’s policy by now is that the foundation phase should be available through the medium of Welsh to every child in Wales.
The Welsh Government is abolishing the Welsh as a second language process that I benefitted from. I would like to hear more about what will replace it, and what will replace it for adults too, because the teaching of Welsh to adults is something that has been neglected in terms of public policy over recent years.
Scrutiny of the Qualifications (Wales) Bill
The Children, Young People and Education committee has provided pre-legislative scrutiny of the Qualifications (Wales) Bill. This week we have discussed the draft report.
Next week the Education Minister will be in post for a year and he will be taking his usual question time in the Senedd on Wednesday.
I will be meeting officials from the Welsh Government’s education department next month to discuss the white paper on additional learning needs. I would like to hear from you if you would want to raise any particularly issues.
Professor Graham Donaldson is conducting a review of the National Curriculum. You can find details here on how to respond to the review. The closing date is 30 June.
New Leader in Carmarthen
Coun Emlyn Dole
"Although we are the biggest group on the Council, it is controlled by the Independent/labour Coalition which means I take over as Leader of the Opposition ......."
Plaid councillor re-elected as champion of young people for two more years
Caerffili Plaid Cymru councillor Mike Prew has been re-elected as Caerphilly’s youth champion for two more years.
In a vote among young people he defeated Labour councillor Elaine Forehead by 2,099 votes to 1,250.
Sian Thomas, Chris Franks, Phil Bevan and John Taylor with friends at this years Spring Conference in Cardiff
Please see for latest Cyngor_Gwannwyn_14.pdf News on the Williams Commission, Chief executives and the activities of the Association
By Election Victory
Cemlyn Williams beat off stiff competition from Independent and Labour candidates to win the vacant Cadnant seat on the 13th February. Cemlyn is pictured being sworn in by town clerk Katherine Owen
Association meets with Nerys Evans
Officers of the association met in Glynneath on February 10th. There was a special welcome for nerys Evans who outlined the main points of the Williams Commsission
Another Stunning By Election Victory
Lucy Huws (Plaid Cymru) 204 (58%)
Bryony Davies (Lib Dem) 128 (36%)
Huw Fox (Independent) 17 (4%)
The story of this election is how Plaid Cymru emerged unscathed after their main opponents poured astonishing resources into this Town Council by-election caused by the forced retirement through illness of a sitting councillor.
During what remained a good-natured election at the personal level despite the ferocity of the leafletting, residents in many streets became used to receiving nightly repeat visits by senior Lib Dem politicians whilst the more modest Plaid campaign simply concentrated on the candidate talking to each household once.
The result is given all the more credibility by the relatively high turnout for an election at this level where no polling cards were published by the Town Council in order to save money.
The outcome is a tribute to the quality of Lucy Huws (below) as a candidate and to the resilience of the Plaid support in the ward.
Local Government Structure
With the debate on local government intensifying, this item may be of interest :