|Carl Sargeant crushes local democracy on Ynys Môn|
Welsh Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, will be in Ynys Môn tomorrow to meet with his Commissioners — no doubt to "consult" with them on whether he should do what he has already decided to do anyway, i.e. postpone the Island's local elections for 12 months. This will allow him to ensure that when Ynys Môn residents are finally entrusted to once again exercise their right to vote — a full year after everyone else in Wales — they will vote within rushed through but entirely new boundaries and according to an electoral system which uniquely throughout Wales will be made up of only multi member wards. You see, Mr Sargeant does not like who Anglesey residents have been voting for in the past, therefore his solution for "democratic renewal" is to simply rig the electoral system on Ynys Môn so as to make it exponentially more difficult for those he doesn't like, the Independents, to get elected.
Some defend Mr Sargeant's questionable methods by arguing that it is a price worth paying to get rid of the "rot", forgetting that there are some hard-working, excellent Independent Councillors on one side and some awful Party-affiliated Councillors on the other. Unfortunately the new system will see the former punished and the latter prosper. Mr Sargeant's defenders also forget that the Island's political problems were exponentially exacerbated by the Welsh Government's previous attempt at intervention through the forced appointment of 'local government troubleshooter' David Bowles, who unfortunately did far more harm than good — indeed his highly-paid two year reign as Interim MD led directly to the appointment of the Commissioners themselves. Though to be fair to Mr Bowles at least he only said that the Commissioners should stay until 2012:
"I recommended commissioners should be appointed until elections in 2012, together with investment in democratic renewal." — David Bowles in March, 2011
Accordingly, the genius idea of pursuing "democratic renewal" through (a) postponing actual elections, and (b) reducing the pool of people who will find it possible to get elected is Mr Sargeant's alone.
In the meantime, between now and when we are eventually allowed to vote again, too many important and irreversible decisions affecting everyone on Anglesey will be made by Commissioners with no democratic legitimacy or accountability. For example, successive administrations on the Island, mindful that Ynys Môn is the poorest region in the UK, have successfully managed to keep Anglesey's council tax amongst the lowest in Wales — now we discover that the Commissioners want to impose a 5% rise in our Council tax next year, quite likely the largest rise in all of Wales. Similarly, Anglesey residents will have no democratic say in what services will be cut next year, or on controversial plans to erect a rash of wind turbines across the Island, and so on and so on until May 2013.
Is this really a price worth paying in order to achieve a sham "democratic renewal" achieved through the dubious means of purposefully manipulating the Island's electoral system?