Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Why local democracy should be restored in Ynys Môn sooner rather than later

After having already leaked over the weekend his intention to postpone the local elections in Ynys Môn to 2013, the Minister for Local Government Carl Sargeant now officially announces that he is "minded" to do so. His full statement is below.

Some have argued that this is no bad thing; the Commissioners are doing such a good job, they say, lets have another year of them.

I'm afraid I'm not so sure and would instinctively prefer to see local democracy restored on Ynys Môn as soon as is feasible. 

Why? Becasue although the Commissioners have undoubtedly brought about some improvements, there is one important area where they are clearly not making headway and that is in finding the savings mandated in the council's Affordable Priorities programme. Ynys Môn must find £10 million savings over four years, and the Affordable Priorities plan — pushed through by our own councillors before the introduction of Commissioners — was an entirely sensible programme to find £3 million in savings this year in a way which avoided cuts to popular services such as leisure centres, swimming pools, libraries and so on. We now know that the council is £1 million behind in finding these savings, which will almost certainly mean deeper cuts affecting popular services will need to be made next year. And now, seeing how the the local elections will be delayed until May 2013, the decisions on what to cut will be made by unelected Commissioners leaving Islanders with no democratic involvement in the process.

By contrast, were the local elections to proceed in Ynys Môn next May (or shortly thereafter), it would have presented the various candidates and parties the ideal opportunity to set out their stall with regards to what they would cut if elected, thus giving the electorate a powerful say in how the cuts are directed. As it stands, however, there will be no opportunity at all for the public to effectively engage until May 2013 and whatever cuts are made in the intrim will not only be deeper because the Commissioners have failed to deliver the necessary savings this year, but will also be decided upon solely by these same unelected 'technocrats' who are answerable to nobody.

(Tangentially, its instructive to learn that one of this year's largest overspends,  £344,000 in the Education budget reportedly relating to supply staff costs during the senseless dispute at Ysgol Goronwy Owen in Benllech, was another episode in which the Commissioners failed to cover themselves in glory as the sorry saga dragged on un-resolved for months.)
Sargeant statement on YM elections

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mairede thomas said...

I suggest that the most honourable thing that all Anglesey Councillors could now do is to offer their collective resignation. I believe that elections would then have to be held using the boundaries and wards as presently constituted. This would then give the island a local government that had a new mandate, some new Councillors, no doubt, and it would give the Boundary Commission all the time in the world to make any further necessary changes to the wards. The Commissioners governing the island would have no reason to stay on after the election, and WAG could make any further changes it wanted to make within the proper process and law and in line with the rest of Wales.

Bob said...

I've read the constant attacks on Councilors yet have seen no evidence to support such attack.

I've read the ranting of David Bowles as with Clive McGregor, but still no evidence to support. So if anyone out there can show some evidence, please do.

mairede thomas said...

If the Councillors care about democracy they will give notice that at the end of what was to be their elected term they unilaterally resign as a group, apportioning no blame merely recognising that this was the term they had been elected for, and recognising that for the democratic process to have any meaning elected Councillors must be able to fully represent their constituents and be accountable for the decisions of the Council. This would demonstrate their collective honour and desire to get the best possible local representation for the island and its people.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps BOB, you need to contact Paddy French and ask him for a look at the television programmes that he made on Anglesey, or was that a figment of my imagination I'm sure mairede would agree with that one, maybe they should be made available on here for us all to see, the buried cars and the get off my land sketch!

Bob said...

Anon above.

Your right on that score, but that's the distant past and those involved are long gone, Its today's Councilors I want evidence about. There's plenty against some Senior Officers, but please show me evidence against the current councilors to deserve such abuse.

Insider said...

Welcome back to blogging, Paul.

The theory about democracy is good, but was Anglesey democracy anything to be proud of during the decades of playground politics? I think an objective analysis would have to find that it wasn't.

Prometheuswrites said...

If I remember correctly Mr Seargent tasked prospective councillors and political groupings with publishing their election manifesto's.

Will this initiative remain in place? Or has it gone the same way as some of those laws that the Assembly pass, but of which they fail to keep a record.

I only ask as many politicians appear to have a track record of making populist statements which are forgotten after ten minutes.

The point here being that if Assembly Ministers announce initiatives which are dropped or ignored by those tasked with the job (IOACC councillors in this instance) then why should anyone believe anything they (AM's) say or have any faith in their ability to do the jobs they were elected to do.

Why not go the whole hog and appoint a whole quango of commissioners/technocrats/bankers to run Wales?

As a country it's education, health and economic systems are rated as some of the worst in Europe, there is now constant infighting between the Assembly and many Local Authorities and the dividing line between public and private finances has become so entangled no one knows who is paying for what (see Photon's latest blog post) - and Anglesey is the paradigm example for these issues in Wales - (as above, so below).

Of course we could change from a 'representational (sic) system of government' to a participative system of democratic government - but that wouldn't be in the interests of those exploiting the current system, would it?

Anonymous said...

The stain of this Council has spread, if I hear another comment about " it was the bad old days, times have changed" I will scream! The bad old days are still here, the only difference is that the shameful episodes of the past still linger over the Island.

My suggestion for the truth and cure for the people would be a very bitter suggestion, one that would be howled at.

The bad old days a cure.

Each officer and each existing and past Councillor should provide to the public for scrutiny, every advantage they have gained, be it planning permission for a shed or garage, or even a development, these should be listed for the public to judge. The Commissioners should be encouraged to provide US the public with this information, this is the pill we want to give this Council as a treatment.


Councillor x
Area x
Duration of service x years

from x date till x date
Planning x bungalows
x houses
We need to know what went on, simple.

Maes LLwyn. said...

If the current 40 have any honour and integrity, they would collectively resign and face the PEOPLE thus forcing an election in May.
This is what the PEOPLE want ?
Sadly I fear that the BAD 7 will be returned.

Bob said...

I say again, show us the evidence by which you speak. I doubt you can?

Anonymous said...

If you want evidence Bob, shall we ask the Druid to receive it or do you want Paddy French? You pick, then maybe you might learn to appreciate that the people have had enough of this shameful episode calling itself a Council, name the person and we will him send the evidence.

Bob said...

Send it to the Druid. That's if you have any?