Friday 27 April 2012

Affect of cuts and redundancy in local government

People First candidate Dennis Warwick who is standing in the Trimsaran ward against the Leader of the "Independent" group Meryl Gravelle has produced a further document detailing the direct and indirect impacts of cuts on the Carmarthenshire Economy after redundancies in the public workforce.

Friday 20 April 2012

The cost of senior council officers to the tax payer

People First candidate Dennis Warwick is standing in the Trimsaran ward against the Leader of the "Independent" group Meryl Gravelle. Last year, while working for Unison, Dennis sent out a leaflet called "Senior Staffing Costs"  (link below) to all 4500 Unison members in the county. 

All figures are estimated and based on information gleaned from the Authority. The county council complained about the leaflet, but failed to provide any figures of their own. 

The amount that WE as tax payers pay out to reward these senior managers is staggering and it has to stop. 

For example, the figures shown for the Chief Executive reveal that he costs the tax payer in salary and "on costs" a hefty £4423 per week!

(Note: The "on costs" referred to in the leaflet include costs on top of salary such as NI contributions and pension payments).

Sunday 8 April 2012

How independent is "Independent"?

It's been said before, but it's worth saying again in the run-up to the local council elections, that some of the dictionary definitions of independent are:

"not affiliated or merged with a larger organisation";

"thinking or acting for oneself";

"not dependent or relying on others"  and, most tellingly -

"a politician or other who commits himself to no party".

What, then, are we to make of people who band together in order to form an "Independent" group in the local council?  How can they be truly independent at the same time as being part of a group which votes in the same way and apparently has the same views on all topics?

Is the title "independent" - as is often assumed - a pseudonym for Tory?  And, if so, why don't they have the courage to nail their colours to the Tory mast?  Or, on the other hand, does this group of people range from somewhere on the left of Marx to the right of the BNP?  How is the voter to know?

By law, traders have to describe accurately the products they are selling otherwise they contravene the Trade Descriptions Act.  I suggest that those councillors who make up the independent group and who are selling themselves to the voters should similarly have to state clearly and unequivocally what they understand by the description "independent" and what principles they stand for.  All candidates who call themselves independent should declare that they will not be willing just to do as they are told and follow the leader, otherwise they risk misleading the public by giving themselves that title and, if there was such a thing as a Councillors' Description Act, they might be in danger of falling foul of it.

People First candidates - even though they are campaigning under one banner - will be truly independent because they will not have to vote according to a party whip.  They will have the freedom to vote as they think fit;  they will be able to follow their consciences in all matters.  No-one will be able to tell them  how to vote on any subject that is raised in council.

People First councillors will be another dictionary definition of independent - "completely self-governing".  That is as it should be. 

Lesley Williams

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Open letter - Stand up for Prince Philip Hospital

It is with great disappointment that I read AM Simon Thomas' claim that our previous Plaid AM encouraged investment at our hospital and, by implication, no cuts. This type of declaration is misleading; despite the fact that since 1999 the unit has had some significant investment, little of this was into core acute services, which have been left to deteriorate.

Famously Helen Mary Jones pledged that acute surgery would only be lost "over her dead body". It transferred to Carmarthen, and Helen is not dead, but no longer with us as an AM.

Over the years since our first merger in 1999 there has been a steady asset stripping from the hospital, with the loss of many staff and many services transferred elsewhere or downgraded. Consultants who have tried to preserve their services such as Hugh Evans and Carol Thomas have been treated shamefully and forced out of their jobs. What few services have been grudgingly expanded in no way compensate for the loss of much of our emergency first aid for illness and accident.

Both of Llanelli's major political parties have failed to deliver on hospital care, despite their local members constant assurances that they are 100% behind the long campaign to keep our services.
While funds are casually expended on other health board projects in distant hospitals, the medical services required for the health and well-being of Llanelli people are allowed to wither quietly, in the hopes that voters will neither notice nor care.

Plaid and Labour want your votes and believe that you will vote for them however poor the standard of healthcare they have delivered and this kind of careless disrespect for the people should not be rewarded or tolerated.

We must all stand together on this issue of retaining the services in our hospital. It is pointless to sit and argue over which party has blundered more completely: The people of Llanelli have been let down across the board by almost every one of them at this point.

If we are complacent, if we show our politicians that they can make the same bad decisions, the same broken promises and allow services to be removed with no repercussions then they will do so. If they can be voted in time and again regardless of how poorly they treat the people they should be serving, why should they bother to make any real effort to change now?

There are no saviours waiting somewhere else to help us. It is not enough to grumble and be cynical and accept that politicians will always let us down with empty promises and poor excuses. We deserve decent healthcare and the respect of the Hywel Dda board, not to be treated like fretting children who just don't understand that the sweets belong to someone else.

Hywel Dda Health Board and its predecessors have stripped the heart from our hospital and now expect us to go west to make up the numbers in Carmarthen and Withybush where their departments need more patients to justify their own existence. This is crazy when we have the Swansea hospitals, with better access and often better quality departments close at hand. 

Before coming to work in Llanelli I worked in 2 areas with large rural populations in the North of Scotland and Northumberland. I have never seen such a dogs dinner of health services that we have ended up with in the Hywel Dda area.

Forget the political point scoring, we need to all stand together and say NO! The people of Llanelli have had enough!

Dr Sian Caiach
Retired Orthopaedic Surgeon

On 28th March 2012 more than 600 people attended a silent protest at the removal of services from Prince Philip Hospital. 

Pictured above are three of the People First candidates that joined the protest that day: Steve Bowen (centre of picture), Dr Sian Caiach, and Clem Thomas (in hat). 

Steve Bowen also gave an interview to camera that can be seen here on the SOSPPAN (Save our Services Prince Philip Action Network) website.