Thursday, 31 December 2015

Plaid's 'vision for Carmarthenshire' under fire

With Plaid's decision to spend £20m of the council reserves coming up for the rubber stamp at Monday's Executive Board meeting it has once again been picked up by the press. Putting aside the fact that the announcement (see earlier post 'A 'vision' for Carmarthenshire - Plaid embrace County Hall spin' ) pre-dates Monday's decision by several weeks, and that it largely involves capital projects which were decided twelve months ago, the decision seems to have woken up the Welsh Government.

Plaid's Exec Board Member for Cash, Cllr Dai Jenkins has been tasked with trying to explain the decision and has come up with...we'd better spend it just in case the council merger plans ever materialise and we might have to share it with Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, and, worst of all, they've described the move as an 'anti-austerity package'.

Creating cyclepaths might be welcome but hardly compares to the current budget proposals to cut funding for vulnerable children, putting up the price of meals on wheels, increasing school dinners, charges for schools/college transport, and axing £18m from our classrooms. Not to mention cutting a the flood defence budget by a quarter...

On what planet this £20m could be described as an 'anti-austerity package' is anyone's guess and further confirms that the move was nothing more than a publicity stunt.

The Welsh Government are making noises that it might halt such 'irresponsible spending' by this council or any others considering the idea. This is an interesting concept as Cardiff have been very reluctant in the past to step in over anything else relating to Carmarthenshire Council; from governance and legal advice deemed unfit for purpose, to questionable handouts to private companies; and from the murky misuse of EU money, to illegal payments to the chief executive. And everything in between.

Still there's a first time for everything.

(There's a Llanelli Herald Facebook article here)


Jac o' the North, said...

You're right to suggest that it would be bizarre indeed if, after ignoring all the 'entertainment' provided by Carmarthenshire council in recent years, the 'Welsh' Government was now, finally, stirred into action by something as relatively trivial as this.

Anonymous said...

In their press release earlier in this month Plaid said the £20 million of reserves would be spent over the next 5 years, now it’s to be spent ahead of any merger.

As Cllr Jenkins says, “It's Carmarthenshire people that have put their money in through their taxes, etc into the fund so yes it is only right and proper that Carmarthenshire people should benefit from that money.” Therefore it seems “only right and proper” to give it back to the Carmarthenshire taxpayers by means of a reduction in council tax, and not fritter it away on a bunch of Meryl Gravel white elephant projects dreamt up on the back of an envelope in order for another photo opportunity.