Wednesday 28 October 2015

Vote Stephen Bowen, People First Candidate for Kidwelly!

Stephen Bowen
Following the death of the standing councillor last summer, elections will be held on November 19th for a new representative for Kidwelly. Stephen Bowen will be representing us, and we'd like to briefly explain why he would be the best choice. As a local small business owner and community activist he wants change at our county council.

Stephen is a single parent and self-employed business-owner running taxis and minibuses all over the county. He has decades of experience volunteering for charitable organisations such as the St John's Ambulance and Lifeboat Service. He understands the needs of those struggling with their own families, their own employment, as well as the larger problems affecting South Wales as we prepare for yet another year of punishing social cuts marketed as "austerity." Unlike other politicians protected from the consequences of their bad decisions behind a barrier of financial security and social class, resolving these issues in a fair and practical way is his problem as much as it is yours.

His policies include developing apprenticeship opportunities to support the growing numbers of unemployed youth, following his own successful time as an apprentice in his youth.

Raised locally, he knows the value of small, community schools and readily-available medical care, and will fight to keep local services funded, and to claw back what has been steadily outsourced to other areas.

Stephen campaigning for hospital services
Knowing the CCCs extensive history with poor planning decisions, he wants to campaign only for sustainable development and only where needed, and is particularly interested in re-using existing buildings and sites that have been left empty and neglected.

Rather than wait for minor issues to evolve into full-blown problems, he has the potentially revolutionary idea of keeping in regular contact both with the citizens of the ward and with the staff of key services such as the Fire Department and Ambulances.

Of course, as a member of People First, Stephen believes in openness in government rather than constant evasion and decisions made behind closed doors. Some would call this standard policy, in Carmarthenshire County Council it is the height of heresy.

If you would like to support Stephen's campaign, you can contact Stephen on (01554) 40 10 31.

Or for more information or to support People First directly, call Siân Caiach on (01554) 74 14 61.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Here Comes the New Boss

Clem Thomas
Well done Jeremy Corbyn. At last socialism has returned to the faux Tory Party that for too long has been masquerading as Labour, Welsh Labour (doesn't exist!) and New Labour. I wish him well, but I fear for him since he will have to deal with one of the most fickle electorates in the world: the shallow, cliché driven people of Middle England.

Two things about this recent Labour election are worrying though. One is that according to all the media reports the Labour Party only just managed to pull off a relatively simple internal election. It nearly foundered several times before Corbyn was elected and this does not inspire confidence in a party that wants to govern the UK. Big party in a brewery comes to mind!

Two, for some time I have been concerned about Labour's interpretation of Democracy. I learned first hand when a community councillor that once a majority of Labour voters pass something they then feel totally justified in imposing this decision on the majority at large -- because Labour's majority, not the majority of people, has voted for it. And as I know too well that action can be brutal and cynical.
Labour's Welsh division are only allocated the "fun-sized"
megaphones, lest they start getting ideas about speaking up

But now to Wales. To be realistic there is no point at all in wondering what Corbyn's new 'line up' means for us. If Nia Griffith's example is anything to go by we can expect more of what we are used to: loud and busy campaigning locally, ever so all for the people, but only until there is a vote in Parliament when all Labour MP's from Wales will do exactly as they are told by their slave masters in Labour's London HQ.

Most annoying though is the fact that we in Wales only ever get fifty percent of a voice. That is, Labour gets very hot and bothered, chest beating and all, when there is a Tory Government in London. Hard to find anyone more self righteous. But just wait until there is a Labour Government in Westminster and the whip is cracked. It is then good bye to a voice for Wales as all the Labour MP's from Wales put on a truly dazzling display of forelock knuckling in order to appease their English masters.

For goodness sake, Welsh people, wake up will you and stop voting for a party that puts Party before People. We had a very sinister example of that thinking somewhere around seventy years ago!

Monday 5 October 2015

Why does Wales still build on flood plains?

In 2006 Carwyn Jones, Welsh Assembly Minister, issued instructions to the Environment Agency (now Natural Resources Wales) telling them not to object to planning permission allowing building on dangerous floodplains. The evidence obtained by Freedom of Information requests suggests that the decision was probably motivated by pressure to facilitate a financial deal to support the Scarlets, a regional rugby team. A deal which has cost Carmarthenshire County Council (and, by extension, every person living in the area) millions of pounds which we could do with now. It may also have cost the safety of many homes here and throughout Wales.

This is the instruction issued by Carwyn Jones in 2006:

The meat is in the fifth paragraph. The minister states "Therefore EAW may object, not "will" object ...." Basically I believe this phrase means that the environment officers will only object with the express permission of the minister and the normal default position will be to advise means to mitigate flood plain developments by raising land, building dykes etc rather than advise that the building be done somewhere less dangerous to everyone involved.

Why would a minister do this? Why has the advice never been withdrawn? Perhaps this letter to Carwyn earlier that year from the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, explains:

You can see that Peter is concerned that the Scarlets' financial future plans depend on planning permission he believes should be granted to build a large housing development at the site of their current stadium and pitches, which are on a flood plain. Carwyn originally had decided to play by the rules (planning Policy Wales Technical advice note 15).The flood plain is a C2 classification which under TAN 15 should not be built on. But why simply follow the law, when you can re-write it? There was no plan B to finance the Scarlets and in 2006 Peter Hain clearly outranks Carwyn Jones. Planning permission was then given on this site as objections from the Environment Agency were withdrawn, A new stadium was built for the Scarlets with mainly public funds from Carmarthenshire County Council. In Stradey and other sites throughout Wales homes have and are being built on land liable to flood under instruction from our own Welsh Government, which pretends to have a policy preventing building on flood plains right up until developers actually want to build on them.

The Scarlets did not pay off all their debts as planned and are currently still as insolvent as they were before selling their land for development with Carwyn's help. The people of Carmarthenshire have generously funded a private rugby club and new estates of homes have been constructed in questionable areas as a result of the policy adopted by this weak minister.

This man now is our First Minister. How can we trust him? He was prepared to sacrifice the environment of Wales for a "cheap" option to finance a Rugby Club championed by the Secretary of State for Wales. Peter Hain also shows his colours as a callous UK Minister without a thought for the people of Stradey  who I now represent as their Councillor. The flood plain at Stradey, did not go away, in fact it is now more extensive. My voters are even more likely to suffer floods as the new homes are raised above ground level, sometimes directly behind theirs. This is not only a party issue, it is one of courage. Carwyn, you failed the people of Wales once, hundreds of homes in my area  and maybe thousands of homes throughout Wales may have been built on flood plains because you didn't have the guts to stand up to Peter Hain. Have you got the guts to stop this madness now?

Siân Caiach