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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Who does Alun Davies AM represent?

In May 2007 Alun Davies was elected as a regional Labour AM for Mid and West Wales. In July 2009 he was selected to stand in Blaenau Gwent at the 2011 Assembly elections. As far as I can make out he nowadays spends most of his time arguing to move transport funding from rural Mid and West Wales to the Heads of the Valleys. We can see why he is doing this but if he was a proper democrat he should resign his seat and let us have sombody who would represent Mid and West Wales.

Fair Funding for Wales - no progress by Hain

I feel a sense of anti-climax after the Westminster Labour Government announcement on the Barnett formula - nothing has really changed. Yesterday we were told to await a 'newsworthy' announcement, maybe even a promise of a full review and a floor on funding cuts. It didn't really materialise. Both the Holtham Commission and the House of Lords have said that the Barnett Formula should be replaced, both inquiries included respected economists. Wales will according to Holtham be underfunded by £300m per year and up to £8.5bn over the next decade yet we will not receive any additional revenues Wales is ‘disproportionately disadvantaged'. Now ‘disproportionately disadvantaged' sounds too subjective an interpretation open to substantial political influence. Not much progress - again.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Labour in (political) climate change denial

One of the characterisations of climate change is the unexpected appearance of extreme storms that appear, cause lasting damage, and disappear with the same intensity. Such is the political storm that started in Cardiff this morning with the release of Welsh Labour’s statement on future progress, or not, of the referendum on additional powers for the Assembly.

The paragraph that caused offence to Plaid Cymru was

“Our internal policy process has already begun: Welsh Labour’s Welsh Joint Policy Committee has met, prioritised the need to campaign for a General Election victory, and agreed to start considering the All Wales Convention report in detail as a prelude to stepping-up wider Party consultation with AMs and MPs, councillors, trade unionists and members as soon as the General Election is over.”

Hapless? Innocent? Misread? Misinterpreted? Deliberate? Calculated? Who knows? Probably the lot! However a lasting damage has been done, not to the Coalition but to Labour.

I have no doubt that Peter Hain made promises to his fellow Labour MP’s that no referendum would take place on his watch, that they the MP’s were primus inter pares, at no juncture would the fledgling Assembly usurp their influence, and latterly, that Sir Emyr was a ‘knight of the realm’ and could be trusted to return the right answer. But politics is an evolving game and the Assembly now has a far greater influence on our day to day lives than the London Parliament, as well, Sir Emyr is a physicist who looked at the facts and came up with the answer that did not suit Peter Hain’s convenience. Peter Hain designed an LCO system to suit his short term political needs, not a way to govern Wales - it actually makes the case for moving to Part 4.

Labour still hasn’t subscribed to political climate change here in Wales, they were thoroughly out manouvered (again!) by Plaid – the threat not to vote for the new First Minister focussed Labour minds – the Tories are in a political ascendancy and for once Kirsty Williams made a half decent speech. The Labour hegemony has gone and Labour are in denial. By the end of today we had witnessed one spectacular climbdown, a complete U turn. I am not ready to believe that Rhodri is too demob happy to care about Wales but the original Labour statement was a formidable faux pas. Vaughan Roderick has another theory that this was cunning Machiavellian plan by Rhodri to get back at Peter Hain.

Whatever the original motive, Labour seem more intent on defending the indefensible, it’s evidence of a Party of MP's too long in Government. Life is moving on and delivering a referendum for Wales would partially redeem their reputation. The ball is in Labour's court and we shall wait and see what dear Peter has to say tommorrow. I am not hopeful.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Ceredigion Highways During Winter

Our house received a posted leaflet from Ceredigion County Council this week about the highways in Winter and in particular the precautionary salting routes. Actually we received 3 copies, one for each individual on the Electoral Register. Its not uncommon for husband and wife to share a copy and my eldest son is away in University and not currently at home - we are not an unusual family, all residents do not require an individual copy. I know of one house which has received 4 copies.
If the Electoral Register is to be used then it is not beyond the wit of information technology to send one copy per household. One is more than enough, the rest lie unopened.

Heritage Minister visits Arad Goch with Penri James.

Plaid Cymru AM and Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, yesterday (Thursday) joined Ceredigion’s Penri James on a visit to Arad Goch’s headquarters in Aberystwyth.

Penri James – Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Candidate for Ceredigion – arranged the visit to see first-hand the theatre company’s recently renovated premises and learn about the innovative work carried out by the company.

Last year, Arad Goch’s headquarters in Bath Street, Aberystwyth, was re-opened following an ambitious project to expand and renovate the premises with financial assistance of from the Arts Council and the Objective 1 fund.

Following the meeting, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“I have long known of the important and innovative work carried out by Arad Goch, both locally and throughout Wales. The company’s new facilities in Aberystwyth have allowed them to increase their activities and offer a wider range of services while retaining a particular emphasis on working with young people”.

Plaid Cymru AM and Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones AM, added:

“I was very glad to be invited to see Arad Goch’s modern facilities in Aberystwyth and to learn about their commitment to making theatre more accessible. In particular, the company’s emphasis on taking theatre productions directly to individual communities continues to be very popular and I wish them every success for the future”.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Plaid Cymru launches transport survey

Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate, Penri James, has launched a survey asking for people’s views on public transport, and on developing safe walking and cycling routes to the north of Aberystwyth.

With increasing numbers of cars, congestion and parking problems, Penri James wants to look at creative ways of reducing traffic and improving the environment.

Recently, the County Council has made a good start. A path links the Glanyrafon Industrial Estate to Aberystwyth, and this year the path from Tregaron to Aberystwyth was completed, which connects Trawsgoed, Llanilar, Llanfarian and Rhydyfelin with the town. However, there’s nothing similar to the north of Aberystwyth.

Penri James and Plaid Cymru have now distributed surveys to many communities to the north of Aberystwyth to collect the views of residents both on local public transport standards as well as the need to develop cycle routes.

Commenting on the survey, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:

“Developing safe cycling and walking routes, together with improving our public transport, would be great ways of reducing the traffic on our roads. As well as providing a connection between the villages and Aberystwyth its also important that we have safe walking and cycling routes between the villages of North Ceredigion.

“I’m trying to get an idea of the demand for this and I’m pleased that a number of responses have already been returned to the Plaid Cymru office. However, it isn’t too late for other residents to send in their views and I would be grateful if they could spare 5 minutes to give their views on local transport”.

Additional copies of the Transport Survey can be obtained from the Plaid Cymru office in Aberystwyth.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Welsh Audit Office - Flood defences can’t keep pace with environmental change

The report by the Welsh Audit Office on Coastal Erosion and Tidal Flooding Risks in Wales is typical of the reports that government and quasai-governmental bodies produce now that we are focussing on climate change. They are important and so is this one, its main point that stronger leadership is needed to manage risks of erosion and tidal flooding should not solely be placed on the Assembly's shoreline. The sums required are way beyond what Councils and WAG can afford and in the absence of devloved fiscal responsibilities a coherent method of funding based on the taxation system has to be a priority for the UK Treasury.