Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Council's Revenge.

Yesterday, I issued two press releases 'criticising' Powys County Council. Actually, I saw them as more 'holding to account' than 'criticism'. Since early December, the Council has morphed into a very strange creature. It is now being run by an alliance of Powys Independents and Liberal Democrats, who meet privately before official meetings to agree a position, which is then 'whipped' through. Personally, I have no problem with this, except that there is a charade taking place, where other Councillors are supposedly involved in the decision taking. I suppose they are - as obsevers. Today, the Management Executive Board just rubber stamped the Powys Lib Dem Alliance proposal that the Council Tax be raised by 4.25% next year. I consider this to be excessive. My other press release was 'criticising' the failure to properly manage its salt supplies, leaving all side roads completely untreated. Again, all decisions on this issue are being taken by a Powys Lib Dem Councillor. In general, I believe 'oppositions' should 'oppose', thus stimulating debate, engaging the public, and examining performance.

Well tonight the Councillors of Powys took their revenge. At around 20.00 hrs, Mrs D and I decided to pop down to the village for supper. When we emerged from the Talbot at 22.00 hrs, a good three inches of snow had fallen. We were in Mrs D's car (which has wide tyres) and she would not move - the car that is. We had to walk home - uphill, in driving snow, and no coats. As we struggled along the home straight, cold, tired and wet, I swear I heard the gently mocking voice of Finance Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Gwilym Fychan floating down from the dark snow laden skies informing us that the Council had today decided to withdraw all salting from the Cil Road - because the Council Tax is too low to allow for the purchase of any more salt - all delivered in perfect Welsh of course.

13 comments:

Nosey Neighbour said...

Is Cllr. Gwylim Fychan related to the other Fychan, Heledd?

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to learn that you have issued the press releases that you mention, and sincerely hope that Montgomeryshire voters take heed. I wonder how many of them, like myself, had no idea that PCC was being run by an alliance of Powys Independents and Liberal Democrats,and then to learn that Gwilym Fychan is the Finance Portfolio Holder, well God help us!!
The thought of PCC and Powys LHB being run as one frightens me to death!!

Valleys Mam said...

most of the salt comes from Cheshire and a friend who lives ther tells me that the supliers have hiked the prices at least twice
That is just not onandif its the case something should be done
This inability to afford salt could cost lives

Anonymous said...

Granted these are old figures, but I suggest you look at these from 2007

Out of the 22 Local Authorities in Wales

Blaenau Gwent £1,215 Labour
Neath Port Talbot £1,204 Labour
Merthyr Tydfil £1,169 Labour
Denbighshire £1,123 NOC
Rhondda Cynon Taff £1,103 Labour

Remember these were from 2007 prior to the May 2008 Elections.

Powys was 16th out of the 22 LA with a council tax for band D of £985

John Bufton MEP said...

We have a similar but different take on this subject -I rececntly looked at this on my blog, but it all boils down to decision making being passed to those who haven't a clue and money being squandered in the process!

dayotedi said...

The supplier of the supplier might have hiked their price. The council is trying to save money by having the minimum amount of grit/salt in its storage pens. It is up to the council to have sufficient amounts of salt on hand to avoid demand-supply price issues in the middle of winter.

Penalizing the supplier to the council will mean next year, the supplier will be charging more to offset the penalizing.

In Zimbabwe the soldiers were sent to the market place and with the display of soldiers guns the market stall holders dropped their prices below what they could get if they sold their stuff elsewhere.

End result: the market place emptied of stall holders. The soldiers had no one to bully into dropping their prices.

Shifting the burden to salt/grit suppliers to hold prices down – will mean they will just sell someplace else so how will that solve anything? A similar situation has been allowed to develop in natural gas supplies – for whatever reason there is not enough methane storage capacity in the UK to easily cope with surges in demand during cold weather. So a chunk of N. Sea gas ends up being stored in other European countries who then charge a premium price to supply it to the UK during cold winters. How dumb is that? Well, the UK authorities decided to avoid paying the extra costs of extra storage capacity thereby ‘exporting’ the costs to other countries which just means the UK ends up exporting jobs and paying more since the gas has to be supplied to the off-shore storage terminals and then delivered to UK shores resulting in greater costs which obviously are passed onto UK consumers.

The UK is moving towards tipping point - perhaps the UK will default like Iceland and Argentina. It can happen - running down UK manufacturing and failing to commercialize innovation is going to hurt. Bit like the so called 'green energy jobs' - sure the UK can build more wind-turbines - but where do the generator sets come from? Germany? China? Korea?

So where are the green energy jobs which are supposed to be in the UK pipeline? Oh, mostly in Germany, China ... where they have the manufacturing capacity to make the generators/alternators. For the same reason that Wales/UK is strangely reluctant to commercialize innovation, the UK is busy exporting future green jobs to China et al.

Maybe after a few more down-shifts in UK living standards the penny will finally drop – but it hasn’t in Wales – so expect more crazy short-sightedness – eventually Wales/UK will be in the second civilization class – economies like China will dominate and frankly, it will be our own fault.

Anonymous said...

I think you will find Glyn that the Cllr with the portfolio under which Winter Roads Maintenance falls is actually an independent councillor, Cllr Geraint Hopkins, but yes he is a member of the Powys Administration. (Again the correct name of the two groups that have joined together.

Anonymous said...

Glyn, NO coats?? Come on give us a break!! NO one in their right mind would go out in this weather, even before it started snowing, without a coat!

Glyn Davies said...

N N - Don't think so.

Anon - I think it is important that people know who is running the Council. I find the current arrangement to be a deception. Nothing new about Gwilym Fychan being responsible for Finance though.

VM - I'm not sure what's happened, but I do know that early in the winter, the gritting lorries were out whenever a touch of frost was forecast - and now there's none left to deal with real bad weather - despite the responsible portfolio holder issueing a press statement just befor Xmas telling us that the stores were full and the Council could cope with whatever comes.

Anon 2 - and what's your point?

John - I'll take your word for it.

Anon 3 - I know Cllr Geraint Hopkins was elected as an Independent Councillor (and he well be a good man) but he has now entered into an alliance with the Liberal Democrats. He now serves as a member of a Powys Lib Dem Alliance. I know that 'administration' is the preferred name of this alliance, but I'm not going to use the word until they actually become a formal administration.

Anon 4 - We did not know we were going to have to walk home. When we go to the Talbot, we park right outside the door. We were well and truly caught out

Sarah Millington said...

Glyn,

Surprising as it might seem but there are rural parts of Llandrindod South particularly up the past golf club, it's very high up there and stretches for miles and miles and I have an elderly couple living up there, have lived there all their married life and he now receives domcillary care 4 times a day and not surprisingly because the road leading to there home isn't being gritted despite my begging and yes I was begging, but despite that it hasn't been done and so the carers won't of been able to get to them for 3 days in a row tomorrow so we have had a local farmer collect the carer from the bottom of the hill in a tractor take them up there, wait for them and take them back down the hill ... it's been a nightmare to organise but needs must because that's what my residents have needed and when the lady questioned me this morning quite extensively, I told her excatly who's responsible for it, excatly which group/administration/alliance whatever you want to call it he is a part of and I explained that because of his actions these are the consequences and I gave her his contact details ... don't care if he doesn't like it when she rings him and I'm confident she will and she'll give him hell like she did me and quite rightly so, if they want to form an administration and protect services they better get on with it and be prepared to take the responsibility and flak when they fail and fail so far they have as far as this issue is concerned.

Peter Black said...

As we know long term weather forecasts are fairly useless, until recently no-one predicted this weather, and some are now saying that the freeze will continue for some time with snow likely on the weekend. It begs the question as to how much planning can actually occur and when a local Council is close to exhausting its supply of grit to whom can it turn for help? - Jonathan Morgan AM.

It seems some Tories take a more sensible view, Glyn.

lads said...

It's high time the coalition now running PCC - and it is a Lib Dem alliance with so-called Independents - had the honesty to tell the voters what they are doing and change the Council's constitution so that there is a Cabinet supported by the majority of councillors. Other councillors, including the Conservative Group can then form a proper Opposition and concentrate on exposing some of the nonsense that is going on. The gritting fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg (sorry!) Glyn.

Glyn Davies said...

Sarah - well said. With power comes responsiblity.

Peter - My criticisms were made before the recent snowfall!! Whatever, I have risen to the debate, and allowed you to irritate me so much that I've posted on your comment.

Lads - we all have our individual ways of putting things, but in principle, I very much agree with you.