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Monday, 30 June 2008

Cllr Owen Henry Jones

On a more solemn note, Penparcau has lost one of its great servants. Owen's contribution to the football, Church, Council, the luncheon club and the Neuadd Goffa to name but a few, was priceless. He leaves a substantial legacy of working for his community and he will be missed by his family but also by his good friend Cllr Goronwy Edwards. Today's funeral was a dignified send off.

Aberystwyth Rheidol Ward - LATEST (3)

I came across the Liberal Democrat candidate Alec Dauncey today, after the initial pleasantries he was keen to emphasise "...I do live in Aberystwyth you know...". Call me a seasoned political cynic if you like, but the old whiskers brought to mind the Welsh saying 'Yr euog a ffo heb eu herlid' (the guilty flee without being pursued). Was this a touch of a guilty conscience? In Private Eye parlance 'I think we should be told'.

This brings me to another issue that's floating around Town Councillor Dauncey. Its already on record that he is allegedly returning to Aberystwyth to pursue his studies, but his campaign literature is careful NOT to say that he is returning to Aberystwyth University. I don't think he is going anywhere near Aberystwyth University but will stand corrected and apologise if I get it wrong. Alec is a Forester by training and the nearest Forestry School capable of supporting a PhD is in Bangor, North Wales. I think he's going to study in Bangor and not in Aberystwyth. Back to Private Eye again 'I think we should be told'.

The Liberal Democrats are once again up to their usual smoke and mirrors. How much of Mark Williams MP's political existence is smoke and mirrors? Back to Private Eye again 'I think we should be told'.

Peripatetic Music Ceredigion

I am a little surprised that this is an issue that has taken time to get going as the harp is so much part of the Welsh psyche it frequently resonates with the heart. There are references now on the BBC in Welsh and English.
Not many parents were aware of the harp teaching post because the decision has been taken without reference or consultation with parents and pupils. Its important to note the following facts:-
  • The peripatetic service in Ceredigion is second to none and has a reputation of producing high quality musicians who contribute to the enjoyment of the wider public. Catrin Finch, Rhys Taylor etc all had some peripatetic teacher input as well as private tuition.
  • Concerts organised by Ceredigion CC with children who receive peripatetic teaching taking part, are always well attended and of a standard much higher than that found in neighbouring counties.
  • There were 9 individuals/ensembles from Ceredigion on stage in the recent Urdd National Eisteddfod, all in receipt of peripatetic music tuition

These are wonderful adverts for the County, with much more impact than some of the sanitised public dictums emanating from County Council HQ.

However my main objection to the cuts is this, by reducing the peripatetic service you are creating an elitist structure for music tuition where only those who can afford the private lessons can develop their musical skills. That is wrong in principle. All pupils should have the opportunity for tuition irrespective of how much their parents earn.
On a personal note I have nothing but the highest regard for the Ceredigion Peripatetic Music teachers, it is a valuable and successful service. They have taught all of my 3 boys and given them valuable experiences and confidence in performing as soloists, also teaching them how to work and perform with others in ensembles/orchestras and bands from school, county, three counties (Ceredigion, Carmarthen and Pembs.) level all the way up to the National Youth Brass Band of Wales. It is an important and treasured part of their life which will remain with them for the rest of their days. I know that I am not the only parent that thinks this way.
These are the reasons why I think that Cllr Ceredig Davies should be brought to account for such a short sighted decision and explain why it has been done. These are decisions that should be reversed and there are many unanswerd questions.
  • How many teachers were there in 2006, 2007 and 2008?
  • How many are proposed for 2009?
  • Which posts have already been lost?
  • How many have been offered early retirement?
  • How can the National Music Curriculum be delivered without peripatetic teachers in key areas?
  • What do the School Governors think of this, were they consulted?

I am sure as part of his explanation Cllr Davies will refer to the County Council financial settlement from the Assembly. This is a red herring and a convenient way of blaming somebody else - a regular Liberal Democrat tactic by the way. Consider the effect of spending money on peripatetic tuition against some of the other money wasting schemes offered by the County Council. You can cherry pick several from the wards represented by Cabinet Members.

Please take time to write to the Liberal Democrat Cabinet member, Cllr Ceredig Davies, outlining your objections.

The address is Adran Addysg, Swyddfa'r Sir, Glan y Môr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 2DE.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Lib Dem Cabinet Member slammed for Council Music Cutbacks

Penri James, Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Candidate for Ceredigion, today (Monday) slammed the Liberal Democrat decision to cut staff from the peripatetic music service in Ceredigion.
These cutbacks come after Ceredigion County Council's Education Department, which is run by Liberal Democrat Councillor Ceredig Davies, decided to offer early retirement to many peripatetic music teachers and not reappoint a harp teacher for the County.

Plaid Cymru Ceredigion's Penri James said:

"Like many parents, I appreciate the benefits that this service has brought to all children. This is a service that helps create a rounded individual and give pupils of all backgrounds the opportunity to be involved in music, thereby giving them confidence and a lifelong skill.

"Cutting it back is a short-sighted and poorly thought-out decision by the Liberal Democrat Cabinet member and it is a decision that has been taken quietly and in the background. Parents should be made aware of what is going on and reject these actions.

Penri James added:

"What kind of impression does this give when many communities are busy collecting money for the Ceredigion 2010 Urdd Eisteddfod and the County Council is cutting the service that will be teaching and supporting many of the contestants?"

"Up until now, Ceredigion Council has always employed a peripatetic harp teacher. This is our national instrument and Ceredigion teachers have contributed to the careers of many international harpists. It is a disgrace that this post has been scrapped. They should think again!"

Monday, 16 June 2008

Aberystwyth Rheidol Ward - LATEST (2)

Just to confirm my previous blog on the matter of Alec Dauncey's residence here is a snippet from inside the Liberal Democrat camp lifted from the Cambrian News here. Its the story on the resignation of Aberystwyth Mayor, Lorrae Jones-Southgate. She also works for the Liberal MP Mark Williams.

"She is understood to be per-plexed and angry that the party did not choose her over Mr Dauncey, both because of her sparkling performance in the town council election and because her rival works in London, returning to Aberystwyth only at weekends."

Being a County Councillor is a 24/7 job not a weekend excursion.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Local agricultural shows

With wonderful weather and interesting company there is no better place than a local show. You have to admire the determination, competition, quality, organisation, effort (or any other descriptive superlative that can be added to the list) of those involved. Shows have their roots in the agricultural community when farmers would bring their best produce - animal and plant - to demonstrate how good they were. It must have been an early form of marketing - create the brand and sell. Nowadays most shows are dominated by the equine fraternity, it is an animal which is not as encumbered by movement legislation and is free to go from competition to competition without restriction. The original principles of branding and selling still apply.

Above all a show is a social event to meet old friends, avoid the odd one that you may not want to see, but also a place where the elected representative is lobbied and made aware of what is really happening on the ground and not what apparently is happening in the Brussels/Westminster/Cardiff/Penmorfa goldfish bowl. I encourage all to tell your representative what you think and to tell the elected representative that it is their duty to attend such functions.

The second Saturday in June is the spot allocated to Aberystwyth Show. The showground is an accessible and convenient location in the open countryside and ideal provided there isn't an easterly wind coming down the valley. I had the chance to walk around with Elin Jones AM and for posterity, here is a picture! She was also lobbied by all.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Aberystwyth Rheidol Ward by election - LATEST

Matters are progressing well for Plaid Cymru in Rheidol Ward. I am impressed with Plaid Cymru candidate Aled Davies' detailed knowledge of the area but it comes as no surprise considering that he has lived in Aberystwyth for 35 years. This is in stark contrast to the Liberal Democrats candidate, Alec Dauncey who doesn't live in Aberystwyth anymore, not in Ceredigion, not in Wales, but has been a resident in London for a number of years. I wonder who he voted for in the London mayoral election?

Community Land Trusts can address affordable housing need

Plaid Cymru Ceredigion's Penri James has stressed the importance of developing a network of community land trusts as a possible solution to the current affordable housing crisis facing Ceredigion. The Joseph Rowntree Commission on Rural Housing in Wales published its report this week which warned that rural communities could lose a generation of residents unless action is taken to provide affordable housing so that they can continue to live locally.

Penri James has previously met with Plaid Cymru's Deputy Minister for Housing in the One Wales Government, Jocelyn Davies, to discuss affordable housing and the need to develop community land trusts.

On the need to address the need for more affordable housing in Ceredigion, Penri James said:

"The need to increase the availability of local affordable housing is an issue that is close to my heart and I welcome the Joseph Rowntree Commission's report. The wide chasm between incomes and the cost of a house in Ceredigion dents the aspirations of so many people who want to have a place of their own. As well as modifying housing legislation there is a need to relax the planning laws to allow first time buyers access to the property ladder.

"At the moment, actions to help young people are not possible due to the ridiculously high cost of building plots. The market must be more realistic and Ceredigion County Council should be much more forceful in getting land with planning permission on the market.

"Additionally, the banking of planning permissions should not be allowed and I ask the new Cabinet member with responsibility for this issue, Cllr Gethin James, to act on this matter now. I also believe that the Council needs to be more proactive in encouraging Community Land Trusts as one solution to the lack of affordable housing locally".

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Health victory - Well done Elin Jones

You have got to hand it to Elin a £31m development to modernise an A&E department and operating theatres at Bronglais is something substantial. It is an example of having a representative who understands rural Wales and is capable of delivering. I hope those carping individuals in the Liberal Democrat party will give credit where credit is due rather than pursue their incessant negativity.

Aberystwyth Rheidol Ward by election

Action Stations! The byelection is now confirmed for July 10th with Plaid Cymru having former Mayor Aled Davies as a candidate and the Liberal Democrats having Alec Dauncey. I must admit I expected the Lib Dems to select current Mayor Lorrae Southgate-Jones, I am sure she will be diappointed and a tad irked by it all, I honestly thought she was a shoe in for the nomination. Aled is an excellent choice for Plaid, a local lad totally committed to improving Aberystwyth. Alec Dauncey is a sometimes here sometimes not candidate who stood against me in Tirymynach in 1999. I cannot say his campaign was energetic but it will all be different this time, there is more at stake.

Prior to the enforced Liberal Democrat resignation the Council stood at 23-19 in favour of the Ind-LibDem-Lab rainbow coalition, take 1 from the coalition and its 22-19. Now if there is a Plaid Cymru gain in the byelection then its 22-20 which is totally unsustainable and unstable in a political sense. Expect a blitz by the Lib Dems but they still have questions to answer as to why they allowed their previous councillor to stand in the first place. Let the electorate decide.

Ceredigion YFC Rally

I spent Saturday at The Ceredigion YFC rally at Prengwyn, apart from the wonderful sunny weather it was an opportunity to meet old friends and meet some new ones. You have to admire the ingenuity of those who think up some of the competitions, how about a 'Generation Game' of wallpapering around an electric socket! Who has these skills? I certainly belong to the generation who buy into 'trade magnolia' to paint every piece of plaster in the house, it is far more practical when you have young children. I am sure the pictures will be placed here in time.

You also have to admire the enthusiasm of current and former YFC members for this event, as well as competition it is a first class community social event, long may it continue.

Did a political head count while I was there:- 1 Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, 4 Plaid Cymru County Councillors, 1 Independent County Councillor, 2 former Plaid Cymru County Councillors and 1 former Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate (rumor control has it that he is having second thoughts about being called a Liberal). No Lib Dem MP or County Councillors, obviously thought that a visit wasn't necessary. Their loss.