Tuesday 29 September 2015

A Matter of Trust

When I read the sub-heading given to a published letter in the Western Mail from Cllr. Kirby of Pontllanfraith: "Labour clearly the party to be trusted" I nearly fell off my chair laughing -- and at 79 years old that can be very dangerous for me. Perhaps I should request that in future the paper's editorial staff issue health warnings when they decide to publish certain sub-headings? 

In the end we just didn't buy it, but why?
As usual now that another party, especially the Tories, is in power in London the Labour Party here in Wales is once more brave and noisy. Hooray! Now, they shout out about all the cuts being implemented and about all the things that should be done, completely forgetting that Labour was in power for years and did nothing except run up the biggest national debt in the history of the UK.

And cuts! Are so many people blissfully unaware of the fact that Labour has executed the biggest cut that we in Wales have ever seen? Never, ever forget, that in just two or three generations the Labour Party managed to castrate nearly a whole nation. In just the short space of time since the days of our grand parents and great grand parents Labour has, with its built in anti-Welsh prejudice, turned the descendants of fearless fighters into fumbling fawning fops. What a betrayal! That has been the biggest cut of all from the "party to be trusted." No wonder so many Welshmen now sing with suspiciously high tenor voices.

If Welsh people have even a tiny drop of that old heroic blood in their veins they should promptly ditch all the London based parties and stop being slaves to those colonial exploiters. Stand up!

Clem Thomas

Thursday 24 September 2015

Economy with the Truth Carmarthenshire Style - Councillor weirdly reveals less than everyone already knows.

Elected representatives of the people usually have or at least endorse ambitions to help people and govern openly and well. However, it doesn't always work out that way, especially in Councils where senior Councillors and/or council civil servants  have got into the habit of tightly running the show.

On Septmber 9th , at  Carmarthenshire Council's full council meeting, New Plaid Executive Board Member Cllr David Jenkins read out a misleading statement in response to our first question from a member of the public. He chose to be very economical with the truth, there actually was more information on the transaction in the question than the answer,

The question was asked as to why part of the lease for Park y Scarlets [one of their car parks] was sold for £850,000 and the council, the owner of the plot, only got £200,000 of it. No mystery says Cllr Jenkins, the district valuer said that an equal amount of the net proceeds of the sale would go to the 2 interested parties, the Scarlets Rugby Club [tennants] and Carmarthenshire County Council, they got £200,000 each. No mystery at all. apparently.

Here's where the economy of truth comes in. The district valuer had said that after the usual disbursements (legal fees, agents fees etc) a 50/50 split was fair. Here we have a lease sale where the disbursements apparently add up to more than the after sales profit. £450,000 is a lot for costs, even allowing for the huge legal and agency fees local Authorities often pay.

The previous Labour Exec member for finance, the man who made the decision Cllr Jeff Edmunds, was kind enough to meet with me after the sale and actually explain the low figure. The £450k cut contained not only the usual fees and costs of a sale but also £280,000 to pay off HDD, the then owners of the Llanelli Eastgate buildings. The sum was to pay for debts run up by the Scarlets in a shop unit rented by them there. Jeff  had been persuaded to do this, he said, by Chief Executive Mark James, allegedly in the interests of encouraging public footfall at the Eastgate,by  keeping the Scarlets' shop open. As this money was now labelled a disbursement,  it did not have to be divided as the district valuer suggested. This was unusual, in my opinion immoral, but apparently not out and out illegal.

The Sessile Oak pub and new hotel site

Since then the Scarlets' shop has closed, Marstons have built a pub and work has started on the land earmarked for their hotel at the same site. The big mystery is why Cllr David Jenkins decided to mislead the public by a statement which was, at best, a half truth? His predecessor has had  the guts to tell the truth about the "missing"  money, the sale is on the Land Registry, the £200,000 is in our published accounts ,and information about the sale has been published in the press,  Why omit the information that CCC, apparently legally, gave £280,000 to the Scarlets to clear a private debt and to keep their shop open  in Llanelli?

Its very generous for Cllr Jenkins to spare the blushes of his predecessor and Labour political opponent Jeff Edmunds or is he protecting the chief executive, who seems to have been instrumental in the whole deal? Either way, not open, not transparent and definitely no accountability.

Siân Caiach,


Monday 21 September 2015

On Speaking Properly

Isn't it embarrassing how you can live your whole life immersed in your culture, only to one day be told that you were doing it wrong the whole time? Truly mortifying! Thank God for those charitable outsiders who never miss an opportunity to enlighten us mere natives.

Clem Thomas: not your standard parochial nationalist
It is hard to believe that here I am in Llanelli in Wales in 2015 and people will actually try to tell me how to speak and write my own language in my own country. Unfortunately these sentiments are all too common particularly amongst a certain type of English person; they feel they can go anywhere in the world and tell anybody what their cultures are and how they should behave.

Here are two anecdotes to illustrate what I mean: I was once trapped in a formal dinner next to an Englishman who spent the best part of an hour telling me where in Wales the best Welsh was spoken. He did not speak a word of Welsh but had worked for about two years in Bangor. I was so glad to meet a world authority on my native culture. Then, while working in the West Indies I heard on at least two occasions, English people telling Indians from India what constituted a 'proper' curry! Amazing arrogance.

It is a funny old world where to stand up for one's own country and culture is considered parochial nationalism but where it is OK to invade and destroy other countries and cultures thereby bringing them Hope and Glory under the tender wing of the 'Mother of the Free'. Don't make me laugh.

Is this post anti-English? No it is not! It is pro truth and common sense, that's all.

Clem Thomas

Clem lives in Dafen, Llanelli. A former Llanelli Rural Councillor, school teacher and factory manager. He returned to Wales with his wife and family from Trinidad after spending much of his working life in the Caribbean. One of the founder members of People First, he writes novels, does most of our welsh translation, and still finds time to be our treasurer.