Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Albert Owen: Putting Anglesey First?

Despite the myriad problems facing the Island he supposedly represents, this is the question our MP, Albert Owen, chose to ask in Parliament yesterday:

Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse was of the entertainment budget of the chief of the Defence staff in each of the last three years.

Good to see you're "Putting Anglesey First" as it said on your election fliers, Albert...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Quote of the Day ("we have not approved anything"-edition)

This week's Holyhead and Anglesey Mail carries the following quote from a spokesperson for the WAG Local Government Minister, Carl Sergeant, regarding the recent dramatic changes at Anglesey County Council:

"We have not approved anything. It is entirely for up to members of the council and political parties to form alliances and coalitions, and to decide on the terms on which they do so."
"Neither the Assembly Government nor the Recovery Board had any part in the alliance negotiations or in drafting the terms of engagement."

Interestingly we know thanks to commenter "Dyfed" that at the first "Meet the Executive" meeting in Llangefni earlier this month, Council Leader Clive McGregor apparently told those present that "WAG is happy with its [the informal board] being".

All I will say is: an interesting discrepancy.

Clear as mud...

Here's the draft preamble and question for the referendum on further powers as published by the Wales Office yesterday:

At present, the National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) has powers to make laws for Wales on some subjects within devolved areas. Devolved areas include health, education, social services, local government and environment. The Assembly can gain further powers to make laws in devolved areas with the agreement of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Parliament) on a subject by subject basis.
If most people vote Yes in this referendum, the Assembly will gain powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas.
If most people vote No, then the present arrangements, which transfer that law-making power bit by bit, with the agreement of Parliament each time, will continue.
Do you agree that the Assembly should now have powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas without needing the agreement of Parliament first? 

Am I just imagining it, or is it pretty much as clear as mud? Either way its hardly likely to set Wales on fire...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Quick thoughts on the Emergency Budget

I'm back - missed me?

Just a quick post about yesterday's Emergency Budget. For me one measure in particular stands out and that is the allowance to exempt new businesses which start up outside of the South East of England, East of England and London areas from paying the first £5,000 of Class 1 employer NICs due in the first twelve months of employment - this will apply for each of the first 10 employees hired in the first year of business.

As this blog has long argued, for Wales to attract greater inward investment and grow its private sector it needs to provide a more favourable economic environment than England. As we are on the periphery of the UK with fairly poor transport links, companies need to be extra incentivised to set up so far from the economic and population centres of the UK and Europe. Currently, all regions of the UK have exactly the same rates of corporation and income tax, which are set centrally by Westminster. The only taxes which the Welsh Assembly Government has the power to adjust in order to differentiate the region from other parts of the UK are Council Tax and Business Rates. However despite Wales needing to provide that 'extra economic incentive' for businesses to set up in the Principality, the fact is that until recently Business Rates were actually higher in Wales than any other region of the UK. Since March they have been brought inline with Rates in England, but are still higher than Business Rates in Scotland where businesses enjoy an additional rate relief.

This provision by the Government to apply a  regionally differentiated National Insurance policy is truly groundbreaking and could be, as Dylan Jones-Evans says, the beginning of a Regional Tax Policy.

Personally I would like to see much more of this with the Assembly Government given much more powers to adjust the levels of both income and corporation tax in Wales so that we are able to compete with neighbouring regions in terms of tax - and thus make Wales a more attractive place for businesses. However, that said, Wales's problem is that it's Public Sector is simply too large to be sustained by the tax income from Wales alone at current rates. In reality, were WAG to be given more tax raising powers - at the cost of losing a portion or all of the current Barnett formula subsidy - tax rates would need to go up NOT down just to sustain Wales's current Public Sector, thus making Wales a far less attractive place to do business. This is one aspect of Plaid Cymru's policies which have always puzzled me - if they truly believe in eventual Welsh independence then surely it would be better for them to pursue a policy of gradually reducing the size of the State in Wales - i.e. creating a lean and mean public sector fully able of being supported by the tax take in Wales alone - so as to make any eventual devolution feasible without huge tax hikes. Instead Plaid seem content to grow the size of the Public Sector in Wales whilst at the same time complaining about the £300m shortfall in funding via the Barnett Formula - both policies which will ensure Wales is tied to England for a long time to come.
Anyway, no doubt we will be hearing a cacophony of complaints from Labour and Plaid WAG Ministers about the "unfairness" and "recklessness" of this budget. A good time therefore to remind ourselves why we are in so much debt. And, no, its not all down to bailing out the banks. Here are the amounts the Labour government borrowed every year since 2002:

  • 2002 - £19bn

  • 2003 - £34bn

  • 2004 - £36bn
  • 2005 - £41bn

  • 2006 - £30bn

  • 2007 - £33bn

  • 2008 - £61bn
  • 2009 - £142bn
Northern Rock crashed in 2007, by which time the Government had already borrowed £160bn - and all this during one of the longest periods of uninterrupted economic growth since the Second World War. Recklessness indeed.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Dros y Bont


Will be travelling dros y bont for a few days so blogging will be light. Will be sending out the finished People's Manifesto for Anglesey as soon as I get back...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The attempted Coup within the Coup

The original 'Terms of Agreement'

Eagle-eyed readers might recall that the Alliance 'Terms of Engagement' document I posted here last Saturday included a space for Cllr Gareth Winston Roberts, leader of the Môn Ymlaen (Anglesey Forward) group to sign. However, the official 'Terms of Engagement' document published by the Council earlier this week, does not. So what happened in between?

The official story seems to be that Gareth Winston Roberts declined to support the Alliance unless it included ALL the groups in the council. Indeed this is echoed in a rather pious quote in the Daily Post:

'Cllr Gareth Winston Roberts, leader of Môn Ymlaen, said: “We support the principle of the alliance but I feel they have missed a real opportunity to unite this council. They should have had all the groups on board to take this council forward.”'

However it has emerged that in reality Gareth Winston Roberts DID sign the original 'Terms of Engagement' document with the other leaders on Friday, 4th June. However, upon signing the document he immediately set about trying to undermine the new Alliance by contacting Bryan Owen - the new Leader of the rump Original Independents party - suggesting that they form a coalition whereby Gareth Winston Roberts would become the new Leader of the Council and Bryan Owen would become his Deputy. Apparently Bryan Owen refused to agree to any such arrangement and the bid came to nothing.

Obviously when the Alliance members learned of Gareth Winston Robert's machinations they ejected him and his faction, Môn Ymlaen, from the Alliance and signed a new 'Terms of Agreement' document on Tuesday, 8th June.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Last night's Executive Question Time

Unfortunately the Druid was prevented from attending last night's Executive Question Time due to family obligations, however two commenters report that it was very sparsely attended indeed:

"I hear 15 members of the public turned up and were massively outnumbered by the Exec. and staff...and 1 press rep.
I hear CMcG performed very well on his feet and came over as sincere and committed.
The others who spoke, likewise.
This team deserves support to succeed.
But the apathy of the public by their absence was conspicuous, I hear."


"Well, I turned up at Llangefni, half-expecting an angry mob, to find about 30 cars at 6:50pm (meeting started at 7pm). Five more cars turned up over the next five minutes, but about five left as the office cleaning staff finished for the night!
So, there were at least 10 cars belonging to the New Order executive, which leaves, erm, a mere handful of the public as attendees.
The last time the meetings had a poor turnout they called it a 'good turnout' and mentioned how incredibly cold it was. So, with a lovely warm summer's evening, they'll still call it a good turnout and say how very warm and sunny it was. It's the kind of logic we're all very used to here.
Personally? I left. They're not worthy of the extra legitimacy another person would add to their hopeless grouping. The people of Anglesey have clearly had enough and are treating the meetings with contempt."

If any other commenters attended the meeting please do post below a description of what happened.

Considering that both Anglesey and the Council itself are facing very dire straights, the meeting would no doubt have been better attended had the Council made more of an effort to publicise it beyond just announcing it on its website. The amount of comments this blog generates proves that low attendance is not due to voter apathy. The Executive should be praised for making themselves available in this way, but there is little point in carrying out these kinds of exercises if nobody attends...
UPDATE: The always well informed 'Dylan' did attend and reports on the goings on in the Chamber:

"I was surprised and disappointed that there were so few present in last night's meeting - 15 sounds about right.
The moderator is needed - she is independant of the council and the new board and is well able to press for answers if they are not forthcoming. It probably is costly to have her - but worth it if these meetings are to continue. And she was very fair last night in ensuring the public got to speak.
CM gave a very assured performance as did Social services portfolio holder. The others - Bob Parry and John Chortlon - had only been in their new posts for one day and could not be expected to be fluent on their topics. Both have the ability to grasp the details, however.
Very little detail emerged as to how the new group was put in place - though after some prodding by me about the 'informal' board we got to know that the WAG is happy with its being.
All in all a good meeting. "

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Putting the new Executive under the spotlight...

It appears that Council Leader Clive McGregor has managed to assemble his new Executive just in time for the planned new round of "Executive Question Time" meetings to be held across Anglesey, starting tomorrow night:

  • Thursday, June 10 - County Council Chamber, Llangefni
  • Monday, June 14 - Ysgol Uwchradd Bodedern
  • Tuesday, June 15 - Beaumaris Leisure Centre
  • Monday, June 21 - Ysgol Llanfairpwll
  • Thursday, June 24 - Holyhead High School
  • Tuesday, June 29 - Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch
  • Wednesday, June 30 - Ysgol Goronwy Owen, Benllech

All seven Question Time sessions will be held between 7.00 - 9.00pm and to attend you are apparently supposed to book your place by calling 01248 752140 or emailing:

If any readers are planning to attend, do let me know so we can report on proceedings here. Perhaps commenters might like to suggest questions which the new Executive should be asked...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

++ The new IoACC Executive ++

Here is a list of the new Executive portfolio Holders:

  • Clive McGregor (Llais i Fôn) - Leader of the Council
  • Thomas Jones (Llais i Fôn) - Finance
  • Robert Ll Hughes (Llais i Fôn) - Social Services
  • Bob Parry (Plaid Cymru) - Economic Development
  • Eurfryn Davies (Plaid Cymru) - Education
  • John Chorlton (Labour) - Planning
  • Cliff Everett (Labour) - Corporate Governance
  • Hefin Wyn Thomas (Menai Group) - Highways
  • Hywel Eifion Jones (Menai Group) - Property & Smallholdings
UPDATE: As a commenter writes below, the new Executive is composed in a very interesting way. Each group has an equal 25% of the vote with the Leader of the Council holding the casting vote.

Your last chance...

Here's your last chance to make a contribution the Anglesey People's Manifesto - the second draft is attached below.

This Manifesto has been compiled from literally hundreds of suggestions and contributions made by commenters to this blog. The first draft (published here) was an amalgamation of all comments in their 'raw state'. This new second draft attempts to draw them all together to make a well reasoned, coherent document. I would very much appreciate it if you all could take the time to read it and post any edits or additions you think should be made to the document. My intention is to finalise it this week and pass it on to the Council, Ieuan Wyn Jones and Albert Owen.

Considering what is going on at the Council currently - partly caused due to our elected councillors failure to produce a unified and unifying vision for the future of Anglesey - I would suggest that there has never been a better time to produce such a People's Manifesto to fill this void.
       Anglesey People's Manifesto 2nd Draft

The Anglesey Coup d'état - Day 5 News

It appears that not all Plaid Cymru councillors are happy with signing the new Terms of Engagement either. Without the support of all Plaid and Labour councillors, the Alliance will collapse passing control back to the rump Original Independents and Anglesey Forward. If that happens, will Plaid Cymru and/or Labour switch their support to the other side in order to retain some executive power? The whole thing is looking more and more fragile by the hour...

UPDATE 1: The local press have finally caught up with the goings on in the Llangefni council chamber. You can read the Daily Post article here. Clive McGregor's is quoted as making the following veiled threat to councillors who do not sign up: "The Assembly’s Minister for Local Government, Carl Sargeant, has already made it clear what will happen if this council cannot mend its ways". Peter Rogers, the unaffiliated councillor for Rhosyr, says he hasn't been kept informed of whats going on: "It is very worrying watching this from the sidelines. I have received nothing official". Finally Cllr Barrie Durkin confirms his intention to take legal action against the council for their "outrageous actions".
UPDATE 2: I'm now hearing that Plaid Cymru's party hierarchy have come out against their councillors who have signed the Terms of Agreement and told them to withdraw. Is this is true, it is surely the end of the Alliance.

UPDATE 3: Cllr Barrie Durkin has confirmed that he is taking legal action not only against the Council but also against all councillors who have either signed, supported or acquiesced in the "Terms of Engagement", in the knowledge that in doings so, they are bound by its terms to publicly 'name and shame' him.
UPDATE 4: A learned commenter writes:

"Actually, reading the document again, Barrie Durkin does already have a claim of defamation against the Council and all members involved in this.
Because it names Cllr. Durkin, and another, specifically. It does not say why these individuals merit naming and shaming, nor provide any evidence for the need for such draconian measures. Further, the document says that they will report the individuals to the Ombudsman. Problems are (a) they seem not yet to have reported their grievance to the Ombudsman, (b) the Ombudsman has not investigated or reached a decision, and (c) even when the Ombudsman does reach a conclusion, then that is not necessarily sufficient to make accusations against anyone.
So, I think what is shown is that a 'robust' defamation has already occurred."

UPDATE 5: I hear reports that a delegation of unnamed Councillors visited Interim MD David Bowles this afternoon to ask him to remove the names of Elwyn Schofield and Barrie Durkin from the 'Terms of Engagement'. Apparently he refused and insisted that he would be proceeding to lodge a complaint against both councillors with the Ombudsman.
UPDATE 6: News about the new Alliance is now up on the BBC News site here. McGregor is quoted as saying:
"I believe that forming a new alliance, made up of those committed to working together and moving this council forward, is our only real chance of sustainable political recovery," said Coun McGregor.
"Many of us have been on opposing sides of the political divide in the past, and this alliance will undoubtedly raise plenty of eyebrows.
"We are bonded, however, by the common goal of turning this authority around, not just as demanded by the Welsh Assembly Government, but because it is the right thing to do."
Labour's John Chorlton is also quoted, saying that the Alliance represents:
 "a huge leap of faith on our parts. However, the Labour members, together with the Menai group, are committed to the new alliance and working in partnership with Llais i Fôn and Plaid Cymru to ensure it succeeds"

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Anglesey Coup d'état - Day 4 News

With such dramatic changes going on at the Council you would think that our well-paid Council press office would, you know, tell us what's going on wouldn't you? Apparently not - the Council's news page's hasn't been updated since Friday. Good job the Druid is here to keep you all informed of the day's going ons:

  • Clive McGregor has only been able to persuade three Original Independents to join his new group, Llais i Fôn: Thomas Jones, Robert Ll Hughes and Chairman of the Council, Selwyn Williams
  • As a consequence, McGregor has sacked the following Original Independents portfolio holders from the Council Executive: Bryan Owen (Economic Development & Tourism), Ieuan Williams (Corporate Management), Aled Morris Jones (Planning), and Kenneth P Hughes (Education & Leisure)
  • The remaining Original Independents have re-grouped under a new leader, Bryan Owen. They are listed in the above graphic.
  • In the end, Gareth Winston Roberts and his Anglesey Forward group (William T Hughes and Derlwyn Hughes) refused to join McGregor's new Alliance.
  • Accordingly, the Alliance is now composed of Llais i Fôn (4 members), Plaid Cymru (8 members), Labour (5 members), and the Menai Group (3 members) - making a total of 20 members. 
  • As the council has 40 members in total, this means that the new Alliance does not command a majority - unless the Unaffiliated councillors provide support. However as McGregor has this year sacked the now Unaffiliated Elwyn Schofield, Barrie Durkin and Goronwy Parry they are unlikely to support him. Which leaves only Peter Rogers and Robert Ll Jones - and its unclear whether these unaffiliated councillors will support the Alliance or not.
  • As McGregor's Llais i Fôn group has only 4 members, it now makes it a junior partner to both Plaid Cymru and Labour. Accordingly Plaid Cymru is the senior partner - it is therefore unsurprising that Plaid leader, Bob Parry, has been canvassing support to now usurp McGregor and become leader of the Council.
  • One final oddity to report is that the Lib Dems on the council now find themselves in the ridiculous situation of being in two different groups: Selwyn Williams in Llais i Fôn and Aled Morris Jones in the re-formed Original Independents.

For all those councillors who are reading (and council press office staff too) you might like to know this blog has received numerous hits today from the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, the BBC, Trinity Mirror and the Houses of Parliament (Albert must have woken up).

More news when the Druid hears it...

Sunday, 6 June 2010

First thoughts on the new "Alliance" at Anglesey County Council

Considering the myriad problems currently facing Anglesey, the Druid - like all right thinking residents - wants to see Anglesey County Council function properly. However, having mulled over McGregor's new Alliance overnight, these are my first thoughts:

  • When I first started writing this blog I very much saw what was happening at the Council in black and white terms. In other words I felt that although the majority of councillors were good, hard working people, there was a minority of troublemakers who were motivated by nothing more than petty in-fighting and vindictiveness. However, the more I learn from councillors, fellow residents, and commenters on this blog, the more it becomes apparent that things are never that simple. There may well be one or two councillors who are purely motivated by "past grievances and personal animosity"; but it is increasingly clear that there are also other councillors who, although singled out by the Executive as troublemakers, are not necessarily motivated by the wrong things. And this leads me to my biggest reservation about the Alliance's Terms of Engagement: it tries to divide councillors into purely 'good' and 'bad' camps - without recognising that not all resistance to the Executive and Senior Officers is necessarily driven by "past grievances and personal animosity".
  • No council in the country is entirely free of wrongdoing by either councillors or officers (a quick read through Private Eye's regular "Rotten Boroughs" column will confirm this). I have seen sufficient evidence to support the strong suspicion that Anglesey County Council is no different. However, Bowles' strategy since arriving has been to unquestioningly defend his own officers against all allegations whilst taking a "no prisoners" approach to democratically elected councillors. This may well be due to his personal experience of having being hounded out of his previous post at Lincolnshire County Council by councillors there after he exposed the illegal activities of the then Leader of Council. However, considering that the basis of many of the problems which currently beset Anglesey County Council are caused by mistrust between councillors and officers, its difficult to see that Bowles' uneven approach will solve them in the long term. 
  • As the new Alliance is made up of councillors from all of the groupings and parties, it will be inherently unstable. Furthermore, particularly at this time of spending cuts, each different group will have wildly different views on the Informal Board's chosen 'strategic agenda' of "budgetary and efficiency issues, schools rationalisation, the future provision of leisure services, residential care for the elderly, Social Services, and matters relating to the economy of the Island". Accordingly we have to ask the questions "how long will it last?" and "what will happen if it fails?"
  • I can't answer the first question, but the answer to the second is clear: should this Alliance fail, then the Welsh Assembly Government will have no choice but to take over the running of the Council directly from Cardiff. However, will they merely take a care-taking approach until the next set of local council elections? Or will they consider that the problems in IoACC are so deep-set that the only solution would be to merge IoACC into Gwynedd County Council? My guess is that WAG will plumb for the second option. As I personally believe that local government decision making should be made as close as possible to local communities, I do not want to see IoACC merge with Gwynedd County Council - yet I fear this new Alliance has taken us a step closer to this eventuality.
  • Where is Ieuan Wyn Jones and Albert Owen in all of this? It is fair to say that both of them have fundamentally failed their electors by refusing to become involved in finding a solution to problems which have now beset the council for years. This is a sentiment echoed by many councillors too. Shame on both of them.

The final point I will add is in relation to point 3 in the Alliance's Terms of Engagement:

"Create a unified and unifying vision for the Island of Anglesey, through establishment of a sub-group with input from external stakeholders."

Now more than ever is the right time for us to push our Anglesey People's Manifesto, as contributed to by all commenters on this blog. The Second Draft will be published on this blog tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

++ Coup d'état at Anglesey County Council ++

There were heated scenes in Anglesey County Council yesterday when the Council Leader, Cllr Clive McGregor, with the backing of Interim MD, David Bowles, broke apart the current ruling coalition and formed a new 'Grand Alliance" with opposition parties:

  • Council Leader, Cllr Clive McGregor, has essentially disbanded the 'Original Independents' grouping (one half of the current ruling coalition) and formed a new group called Llais i Fôn ("Voice for Anglesey").
  • Cllr McGregor has further called for an Alliance with the other Parties/Groups (i.e. Plaid Cymru, Labour, Môn Ymlaen, and the Menai Group) to be composed of councillors who will agree to the 'key principles' of: (a) working in cooperation with those who have demonstrated a commitment to moving forward to address the challenges facing Anglesey;  and (b) leaving behind those who remain motivated by past grievances and personal animosity
  • A new 'Informal Board' will be established to replace the current Executive. Portfolio Holders on this board will be selected from all Groups/Parties and agreed amongst Group/Party Leaders in accordance with an agreed numerical distribution. - In the case that this Informal Board cannot reach agreement on certain matters the Council Leader (Mc Gregor) will make the final decision.
  • The Informal Board will prioritise budgetary and efficiency issues, schools rationalisation, the future provision of leisure services, residential care for the elderly, Social Services, and matters relating to the economy of the Island.
  • The Leaders of each Group represented on the Board will give a personal, public and written undertaking to:

  1. 1. Make no reference, verbally or in writing, in public or in private, to any issues relating to past conduct, allegations or grievances in relation to other Alliance members.
  2. 2. Commit unequivocal support to the Recovery Programme to include ongoing governance improvements to develop structures and processes  which will avoid any return to the "winner takes all' culture
  3. 3. Create a unified and unifying vision for the Island of Anglesey, through establishment of a sub-group with input from external stakeholders.
  4. 4. Agree that a major objective of the Alliance will be to isolate those who have consistently blocked progress and, by their actions, have refused to embrace new ways of working. This will include publicly identifying those individuals. Any member of the Groups within the Alliance who does not publicly support this stance, and refuses to "sign up" to the principle described in the paragraph above, or whom their Group Leader considers has failed to demonstrate sufficient ongoing commitment to the recovery, shall be ejected from their Group.
  5. 5. Agree not to admit to their Group, or work with, or support in any way those individuals identified by paragraph 4 above.
  6. 6. Collectively take steps to robustly "name and shame" anyone who obstructs the recovery.
  7. 7. Reform and modernise the agreement reached among the Groups with regard to Group Leaders' meetings and to the allocation of chairs, vice-chairs, and allowances in relation to those identified by the actions described in paragraphs 4 and 6 above.
  8. 8. Publicly and robustly condemn Cllr Schofiend and Cllr Durkin in a clear statement supporting the Council's position in reporting these individuals to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales for breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct.
  9. 9. Take any and all opportunities to expose and marginalise those identified by paragraphs 4 and 6 above and to highlight the damage which their actions and conduct have caused, and continue to cause, to the Council.
  10. 10. To support every appropriate effort to ensure that only members of the Alliance, and those unaffiliated members who have demonstrated their commitment to the recovery, shall be nominated to the role of chair or vice-chair of any committee, or to serve on any outside body, or receive any special responsibility allowance.
  11. 11. If those Members identified by paragraphs 4 and 6 above seek to disrupt the business of the Council, for example by call-in, or calling extraordinary meetings of the Council then, wherever possible, the rules will be changed to limit such disruptive conduct.
  12. 12. Any member of those Groups comprising the Alliance who fails to publicly support these undertakings, or undermines the Leader of their Group in discharging these undertakings, shall be disciplined collectively by the Group Leaders of the Alliance.
  13. 13. It shall be an aspiration of those Alliance Groups composed of independent members, to develop sufficient common ground and positive working relationships that, in due course, they shall be in a position to consider the merits of merging into a single, unified, independent group.

A document entitled 'Terms of Engagement for a Political Alliance to secure the future of Anglesey County Council' has been prepared listing all the above terms (attached below). It has apparently been signed by:

  • Cllr Clive McGregor on behalf of 'Llais i Fôn 
  • Cllr Bob Parry on behalf of Plaid Cymru
  • Cllr John Charlton on behalf of the Labour Party
  • Cllr Winston Roberts on behalf of Môn Ymlaen (Anglesey Forward)
  • Cllr Hefin Wyn Thomas on behalf of The Menai Group

It was witnessed by both Interim MD, David Bowles, and Monitoring Officer, Lynn Ball.

++ Developing - more to follow ++

Terms of Engagement

Friday, 4 June 2010

John Chorlton to stand as Labour candidate in 2011 Assembly elections?

A commenter on this blog writes that Cllr John Chorlton, leader of the Labour grouping at Anglesey County Council, is considering standing down as a councillor in order to be the Labour candidate for Ynys Môn at next year's Assembly elections. Chorlton is currently a popular man - only last week the Druid wrote about Chorlton as the man Albert Owen had in mind when he floated the idea of an elected Mayor for Anglesey. Now it appears that Chorlton may have an even larger prize in mind.

Ynys Môn Assembly Election results 1999-2007
click to enlarge

Labour in Anglesey are no doubt feeling buoyed by Albert Owen's better than expected results in the recent general election - however, as the above chart shows, any Labour Candidate for the Assembly will face an uphill struggle. For various reasons people vote differently in Westminster and Assembly elections, and since Labour came second in the 1999 Anglesey poll, their vote has progressively declined at each election. Labour's 2007 candidate, Jonathan Austin - a welsh speaking barrister from Anglesey who has served on the Welsh Books Council and the governing board of the National Museum for Wales - seemed on paper to be an excellent candidate, but he bombed. Can the much less accomplished John Chorlton do any better?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Albert Owen is an accomplished politician...

Albert Owen is an accomplished politician. He really is. But I don't mean it as a compliment.

Yesterday's Daily Post carried an article explaining in a little more detail Horizon's plans regarding building Wylfa B. Next to that article was a write-up of Albert Owen's complaints that the new coalition government has "shattered" the confidence of nuclear investors.

Of course Albert is right to hold the new government to account. And, as I have written here, its certainly less than optimal to have an Energy Secretary that doesn't believe in nuclear power. However what makes Albert such an accomplished politician - and what I find so irritating - is Albert's shamelessness. The record of Albert's Labour government on energy policy is one of indifference (except when signing the UK up to ever more ridiculous carbon targets) and procrastination. In the end, even the Government's own advisors were warning that we could be facing blackouts by 2015. Why? because Labour's obsession with renewable energy had blinded them to the fact that most nuclear plants (including the current Wylfa reactor) and half of UK's coal plants were due to close over the coming decade without a concrete plan on how to replace them.

Indeed in Anglesey we have paid an especially heavy price for Labour's energy policy failures. Anglesey Aluminium - the Island's largest private sector employer - relied on a cut-price electricity deal with Wylfa. However when Wylfa was handed over to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to begin the shutting down process that deal had to end as it would constitute unlawful state aid which is banned under EU law. As a consequence Anglesey Aluminium was forced to close with a loss of 450 jobs and and an estimated 240 more through indirect and induced effects.

So, in conclusion, had Labour used its three terms in Government wisely to replace Britain's ageing nuclear plants in a timely manner then we wouldn't now have to worry about having a Lib Dem Energy Secretary who doesn't believe in nuclear power. Whats more, we might even still have still had a thriving Anglesey Aluminium too. Consequently my advice to Albert is this: by all means hold the new government to account, but remember we are in the current difficult situation with regards to Wylfa because of the policies of your own government.

P.S. I apologise for the lack of posts lately - I hope the reason why will become apparent very soon. Watch this space...