I attended the first of the latest set of Hawl i Holi meetings in Llangefni last night. Over 40 members of the public turned up -- a big improvement on the last such meeting I attended -- and a lively exchange ensued between the Executive, still led by Clive McGregor, and the assembled residents.
The meeting began with a presentation of the financial problems facing the council as a result of the public sector cuts, best summarised by the below figures:
You can find full details of the proposed budget here on the council website.
The majority of questions related to two subjects: specifics regarding the actual local cuts themselves, and the ongoing political turmoil at the council. There was also a very forceful statement regarding the council having given only very short notice indeed in informing the public that these Hawl i Holi meetings will also represent a formal 'public consultation' into the proposed budget for 2011/12. The Photon has already written a very accurate and detailed pen portrait of the meeting so I won't repeat everything here.
I asked two questions:
1. How the job losses at Anglesey County Council will be managed, specifically will there be any forced redundancies? How will it affect consultants and agency staff? And whether the council is considering implementing a deal similar to that announced at Neath Port Talbot whereby the total number of job losses have been reduced due to workers earning over £21,000 p.a. accepting a one-off 2 percent pay cut and a three year freeze.
Answer: Basically the council will be having discussions with the unions today and therefore cannot answer those questions in detail yet. Cllr Cliff Everett added that the situation in Neath Port Talbot was considerably different from Ynys Môn because of the large size of that council and solutions which work there may not be appropriate here.
2. I fully support Wylfa B, but we need to be aware that the new power station will generate approximately 3,300MW (roughly three times more than Wylfa A) and an additional 4,000MW will be coming in at peak time from the wind farms in the Irish sea. Therefore, how will all this power be transmitted off the island as the current supergrid has nowhere near that capacity? Scarring the island with hundreds of additional pylons will certainly not help our nascent tourism business. As we are hosting a power facility for the benefit of the entire country, the council needs to ensure that Anglesey is respected for its contribution and that strong representations are made to the National Grid to use either submarine or underground cabling.
Answer: The council is aware of the issue and discussions are going on with all the parties involved - "Watch this space".
The meeting ended with an appeal from the Leader, Clive McGregor, for more people to consider standing for election as county councillors in the 2012 local elections. Currently only 5 percent (i.e. 2 out of 40) of councillors in Ynys Môn are female compared to a Wales average of 22 percent. Furthermore the average age of county councillors on Anglesey is 63.5 years, fully five years older than the national Wales average of 57 years. If you fancy becoming a councillor, you are invited to get in touch with the elections department on 01248 752815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Clive even went so far as to suggest that a two term limit should be introduced for Councillors on Ynys Môn so as to ensure a regular intake of new blood -- something which is included in the People's Manifesto and a measure I would wholeheartedly endorse. Now that really would be a legacy for the Island, Clive!