Wednesday 21 March 2012

Advice for voters...

Interesting letter in this week's Carmarthen Journal which highlights the problems of standing as an independent candidate in the forthcoming Council elections here in Carmarthenshire.  The true meaning of the word has been twisted into a complete joke by the ruling regime in County Hall who have voted, nearly always, as a tight group at the Leader's bidding and secondary as independent representative of the interests of their ward. This time there are a few real independents, such as myself, who wish to distance themselves from the Group and give the residents a real voice for once.
The Electoral Commission does not allow candidates who are not aligned to a party to put anything other than the single word 'independent' on the ballot paper so caution is advised and before you tick the box, make sure you are voting for someone who will stand up for you and your area with absolute sincerity and will not be part of the current administration.

Here's the letter;

ELECTIONS to Carmarthenshire Council will take place on May 3. I would like to draw attention to the confusion that can be caused by the use of the word 'Independent' when candidates are seeking election and after they are elected.
'Independent' pertaining to a politician means "not committed to any party", according to my Chambers dictionary.
In the past I have voted for 'Independent' candidates in the belief that, once elected, they would be free to represent their communities actively and without the constraints of having to toe a party line.
This is not necessarily the case in Carmarthenshire because the Independents have formed a group, a small party in everything but name.
I wonder if Independent councillors should change their label?
We as voters need to know that candidates are describing themselves accurately, especially as it is difficult for the public to follow the process of policy making.
Council meetings are in the daytime when many voters are at work, and interested members of the public are, in any case, discouraged from attending because of the humiliating 'good behaviour' undertakings that everyone must sign.
Given the prohibition on recording the council's meetings, and the abbreviated nature of the published minutes, the fact that 'Independent' councillors are members of a group may not be entirely obvious to every voter.
Yours, etc

In the summer before the last election in 2008 it was decided as a pilot project to give each councillor £5000 to spend on worthy causes in their ward. Not a bad idea in itself of course. Naturally, it could not be used for political purposes. However, as the 2008 election approached the local papers became liberally peppered with photos of beaming councillors (of the ruling Ind/Lab coalition) pointing to playgrounds etc and giant cheques; as far as I am aware the 'pilot' has not been repeated since then.

This time round I am beginning to wonder whether a rather more subtle approach is being taken. All of a sudden, long awaited for action is being taken to complete various small schemes, for example, locally, crash barriers have been installed after four years of waiting and in Ammanford we have already been treated several times to the not-so-subtle grins of one councillor as a row of dilapidated houses were demolished. I don't think anyone is unhappy at the demolition but, after twenty odd years of nothing being achieved, the pre-election timing says it all.
With even less subtlety, the story repeats itself this week and the smiling Kevin is joined by his boss, Leader Meryl Gravell who has, amazingly, launched herself into this little story for no apparent reason other than photo opportunity.

(via South Wales Guardian)
Kevin, Meryl and the rabble rubble


Cneifiwr said...

Thanks to Photoshop and digital photography, the Press Office could start inserting pictures of Meryl in all sorts of interesting places - the Nativity in Bethlehem, accompanying Mother Theresa on a stroll through Llanelli, having tea with the Queen....Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Literally buying votes. Quite distasteful really.

caebrwyn said...

@Stuart I don't think what happened in 2008 will be repeated, however well intended the scheme was, there were a lot of complaints from non-sitting candidates at the time. As for 2012, electioneering is all it's various forms is to be expected and as long as no one has an unfair advantage, then the voter will then decide who is best for the job.

Tessa said...

The £5,000 community spend per serving councillor in 2008 was a complete outrage. We in the then Carmarthenshire Ratepayers' Association (with a candidiate - me) objected strongly to the Electoral Services Commission. However the Electoral Services Commission - another toothless body like many regulatory bodies/complaints handlers - wriggled out of actually doing anything to intervene, arguing that the money was public and so it wasn't an issue. Or some such balls - I've got the letter somewhere.......

Tessa said...

Excellent post by the way. Funny too! Inc. LOL at Cneifiwr's suggestion!

Anonymous said...

it looks well weird with the open space.

spotted an old piece.. is this the same kevin madge who was praising ecology and newts in county hall?

Cllr Madge added that infrastructure projects, such as improving the roads around the south Wales valleys, needed to be given the highest priority by the next Assembly government.

"It will be my number one priority to get phase two of this project through," said Cllr Madge. (referring to ammanford relief road part 2.. part 1 was meant to cost 3million in 2002 but by the time it got built in 2008, 3/4 of a mile through trj old yard cost 8m

But green campaigners have hit out at Cllr Madge's comments.

"An area like the Amman Valley does not need an Assembly candidate with such a shortsighted and insular approach to politics,"

Anonymous said...

phase 1 basically runs alongside the old foundry road, the trj offices are in the same position, the pfi police station hasn't moved. the type of land was basically old coal tips, wasteland.

then again, the embankments and verges they created are basically old coal dust, and the effort of decorative trees don't look too well. so much for newts and ecology.

phase tow is problematic. pahse 1 is about quarters of a mile, pahse 2 is about 2 and a half miles. going past lots of people houses, crossing two rivers and a railway line. the only way to get across is some sort of an elavated bridge because the fields are level on one side and goes uphill on the other. and for what? to attract businesses into ammanford.

peace and tranquility will go down the pan to speak.. and an almighty hefty bill just to reduce the traffic queue on the approach to ammanford.. in the 70s and 80s, people going home from work and the queue was all the way down to penybanc bridge. knock down a few houses in the mid 90s for the new tesco road, and the traffic queues are just the same now as it was then.

maybe it's just too many cars on the road? just a thought