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Saturday, 10 May 2008

A letter of thanks

Dear all

May I express my sincere gratitude to all those individuals, be they residents, school governors, community councillors, fellow county councillors or council officers who have provided invaluable assistance, advice and support during my 13 years as Councillor for the Tirymynach Ward on Ceredigion County Council. It has been a privilege to serve the local and county community and I hope that some good has come from it. In a similar vein, I trust that we shall again work together, in whatever capacity, for the good of Ceredigion.

Can I congratulate all those who have been elected in 2008 and wish you a fair wind in contemplating and taking the major decisions that lie ahead for the authority. Acting as a councillor brings with it its own responsibilities, but with a good work ethic, the highest standards of integrity and always working for the good of others not yourself, you will, as I have done, find it to be the most enjoyable of experiences.

I shall now be devoting my time to work as the Prospective Westminster Parliamentary Candidate for Plaid Cymru in the next General Election, whenever it comes. Ceredigion holds a special place in my life and my only wish is to serve to the best of my ability and to the betterment of society as a whole. In that capacity I am sure we will meet, chat and see what can be done to make Ceredigion a safer, greener more prosperous county for all.


Penri James

Friday, 9 May 2008

Ceredigion prospects

The council elections were a triumph for Plaid Cymru when analysed on a county wide basis, the % of the vote increased from 38.9% to 43.3% and the number of councillors +3 to 19, the highest total ever. In the 1995 elections Plaid Cymru had 7 seats compared to the 6 held by the Liberal Democrats, in the intervening 13 years, Plaid Cymru have increased by 12 to the 19 total while the Liberals have gained 4 to make a total of 10. The simple truth is that Plaid Cymru gains are three times those of the Liberal Democrats. Gains by all parties are at the expense of the Independents. Yet, the Independents still claim a mandate to rule even though they have lost seats in all elections since 1995 and are the second group by a fair distance. The Liberals will form a coalition with them and conveniently set aside their policy on proportional representation. It is impossible to run a Council with such a small majority and a lack of democratic mandate.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Wavy flowers

Dear me. Its surprising what happens when the media likes a story. My colleague Dr John Warren and myself authored a paper Do flowers wave to attract pollinators? A case study with Silene maritima published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. It concludes that flowers have to express the right amount of waviness in order to get pollinated by insects.

It has found ballistic interest on the BBC web, on BBC radio, in Canada, America and Ghana. I might be something to do with the vision of spring (its sunny today) and the vision of flowers just sitting there waving at the passing traffic hoping to attract attention. Bit like optimistic politicians having to draw the right amount of attention to themselves in order to get elected, too little and nobody pays attention, too much vigour and nobody can see what you are doing. Such is life!!

...a week later

A week after the event when I was defeated by 14 votes, I think its probably time to respond. From a personal point of view I would have preferred to be part of the new council and have some direct influence over the major decisions that Ceredigion now has to take, but that is not to be. Fate has decided that I have to make my point from the stands. On election day it was interesting to watch a particular demographic coming out to vote, a demographic class that would in a 'national' election be split between 3 parties. Perhaps we are seeing national politics playing a more important role in determining the outcome of local elections, there is some merit in that argument because several experienced councillors (myself included) lost seats. I shall leave that to the political scientists. There may well have been an anti-incumbancy vote where local issues tend to dominate.

Where does Ceredigion go from here? If you think that the education debate raging in Gwynedd is an isolated issue, think again. Ceredigion has to deal with the large number of small rural schools and secondary schools fast running up substantial cash deficits. A strategic decision on education has to be taken in the next 2 years. The roads are a mess, an unacceptable number of rural roads fail the necessary standards tests and need to be repaired. There is no cash available to do so. We have an ageing population in West Wales and the demand for greater care will increase, again we have no cash to do so.
These are decisions that can only be taken by a stable and strong authority. Lets see what materialises from the discussions prior to the meeting to elect the Leader of Council on Friday 9th May.