Friday, October 10, 2008

Day by the Seaside.

Been up to Llandudno today. Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Annual Conference. I was participating in a panel discussion about blogs, and their influence with Peter Black AM and Lee Waters, Chief Executive of Sustrans, who used to do a bit of blogging himself. Lee made a very good opening speech. Any representative of a political constituency association who happened to be there would have been very impressed! It was all the talk over lunch. Rhun ap Iorwerth of BBC fame chaired the session.

Attending these local council events is a bit like going home for me. Stuffed full of people I know and like, but rarely see. Wyn Evans from Carmarthen, Keith Evans from Ceredigion, Janet Finch-Saunders from Conwy, Bob Parry from Ynys Mon etc. - and a whole tableful from Powys. Stephen Hayes from Montgomery asked Andrew Davies a cracking question about the non-recognition of Mid Wales.

Seemed to be two discussions going on, the first being the fall-out from the Icelandic investments that may never be repaid. Paul Murphy was at the Conference, informing us that since Local Government is devolved, compensation is down to the National Assembly. He was sitting next to Assembly Government Finance Minister, Andrew Davies when he said it. Must have come as a bit of a surprise to Andrew, since I understand he told AMs this week that the Treasury would pick up the tab. I think some councillors were under the impression that Gordon Brown has declared war on Iceland and is treating Icelandic nationals as terrorists. I told them that I didn't think this was true. A lot of tosh being talked about these losses (if that's what they be) having no effect on public serevices or council tax. £4 million in Powys! Of course there'll be an impact. Only question is when it will be felt.

Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, Paul Murphy, and Dafydd Elis Thomas were the panel for an earlier session. Pity I missed it. I'd have enjoyed the squirming. Here we have one of the most able former diplomats in the world, trying to make out that his current non-job is of some significance to the future governance of Wales. I wonder whether Dafydd El or Paul Murphy said they favoured a referendum. Doubt it. I hope Sir Emyr realises what his role is - to create the pretext on which the Assembly Coalition partners can renege on their referendum promise.

I was interested in Lee Water's opinion that the 'Rainbow' coalition is back on the agenda. He reckons that the Assembly Coalition won't survive the retirement of Rhodri Morgan. Personally I think this is unlikely until 2011, but I've always thought it a possibility. Won't happen until the General election is out of the way. Will keep an eye on this. Smart boy, that Lee Waters. Will go far.


Mumbles Mike. said...


Number of free places:

Local authorities - 10 free places (5 places for councillors and 5 places for officers)
Fire authorities - 5 free places
National Park authorities - 5 free places
Police authorities - 5 free places
* Any additional places will be charged at £100 + VAT each.

Which one did you fall into Glyn?
Or did you have to pay??

Anonymous said...

Lee has always been smart , he was apprenticed to Ron Davies for many years and was well schooled. I was surpised when he dropped out of the media.
he is a nice guy andregularly goes walking with your guys Glyn

Anonymous said...

Hi Glyn,
Good to see you too.
Enjoyed your panel discussions and I hope that there will be more bloggers as a result of all your excellent contributions. It was a pity that you missed the earlier dialogue on more powers for the Assembly, as I feel you would have livened things up somewhat.
All the best,

Glyn Davies said...

M Mike - I'm afraid I had to pay all of my own expences. Come to think of it I was probably the only contributor who had to pay for my own travelling etc..

VM - I know. He'll be back in the Bay at some stage - imo.

Janet - I was sorry I missed it.

Orme Fox. said...

signs as Anon, then signs herself again Janet. Could only be Finch-Saunders!
Typical of her and the standard of councillor in Conwy!
Glyn our critical views here in Conwy are not with out foundation.

penlan said...

If (as appears likely) there is a Tory Westminster Govt by 2010,then I think the Rainbow adminstration is a non-starter,especially as any incoming govt(whatever party) is going to be faced with an absolutely horrendous budget deficit and will be making unpleasant decisions and so WAG will be setting itself in opposition.

Incidentally,have our speeding fines etc been blagged from the Police authority by our Icelandic friends?The thought caused a wry laugh over a pint last night.Don't think that using anti-terror laws against a fellow NATO member will seem clever in hindsight,though.

Jeff Jones said...

The only cost in the short term for local government of the Icelandic fiasco will probably be the loss of interest on the money deposited. Much of the money will be from capital receipts. What should the government do? The answer is that obviously they have to look at the position of each council on a case by case basis. There should be no blank cheque. If they do decide to give money it should come from the Assembly not the Treasury because local government is a devolved matter. It's exactly the same as compensation for farmers. Should they recieve any money? Probaly not. If it is capital and it effects a possible capital project they should be given the power to borrow to cover this . It is also now clear that serious questions need to be asked about the way in which some councils invest council taxpayers money. There is an interesting story in today's papers regarding the advice being given by Arlingclose to some of its local government clients. As early as 2006 they were being advised not to invest in Icelandic banks. Why 2006? The reason for this is that they nearly went under in that year. It seems that some councils incfredibly ignored the advice from Arlingclose

Anonymous said...

There was an amazing number of incredibly pompous people there. Sounds absolutely dreadful.

Were people actually paying to attend?

And who are "your guys" that Mr Waters regularly goes walking with? Do tell!

Patriot said...

Lee discredits himself everytime he says this Glyn. Carwyn will win the leadership and Plaid will stay in the coalition. In 2011 for the rainbow to happen the following conditions will need to happen:

1. The Tories need to win less seats than Plaid (unlikely this time round)

2. Kirsty will have to deny a life time of public hatred of the Tories (only likely if she wishes to lose her seat and never go to Ystradgynlais again).

Not sure what a dead rainbow looks like.........

Anonymous said...

I wonder if he'll be looking for a new house in Pontypridd?

Glyn Davies said...

orme fox - I, too assumed it was Janet F-S. I cannot believe that you are being fair. I have always found her to be very personable and committed to her work as a Conwy councillor.

penlan - I don't follow you here. The consequences of what is happening to our economy are likely to be unprecedented, and we do not know how the politics of this will work out. We all know what is coming, and I do not believe that the Prime Minister will succeed in pinning all the blame on the international financial turmoil. So why not a 'Rainbow'.

Jeff - I still think its too early to judge whether criticism of councils is justified - but its beginning to look as if it could be. The days of blank cheques are over.

anon - Who do think would be 'interesting' speakers - bearing in mind that it was the WLGA Conference?

I don't know, except that he does walk with Nick Bourne and David Melding sometimes - and many others of different political persuasions for all I know.

Anonymous said...

Hey Glyn, what about Grope-it Opik's
catalogue of "how briliant am I" photos delivered to our doors here in Montgomeryshire. Boy is he running scared. And no photos of him with scantily clad women half his age. Now I wonder why that may be!

Ben Garland said...

I'm concerned to hear Bourne goes for walks with Waters, one of the more left-wing members of the press at the assembly. Waters was never a friend of the Tories. Why can't Bourne choose his friends more carefully? He's in enough trouble as it is!

Jeff Jones said...

Glyn Buy a copy of today's Sunday Times and you will see confirmation that councils invested in Icelandic Banks even after the banks credit ratings had been downgraded earlier this year. As I pointed out on Radio Wales on Friday morning this fact was reported in European Investment and Pensions News in February. There were also warning articles in the Telegraph and Guardian in April and May of this year. As a result I advised my late father not to invest in any financial product linked to Iceland. The rates were too good to be true.Councillors rather than ask for handouts from the Assembly or Treasury should be asking serious questions about the way senior officers and their outside financial advisers ignored these warnings in the search for higher returns. In the early 20th century my local district council lost a court case which cost a considerable amount of money. They didn't ask for outside help. Instead the local rate payers paid for the costs via increased rates for the next 30 years. The Assembly reserves are at a dangerously low level because of the decision to take £200 million out to finance revenue. In these circumstances the £4 million frozen in Icelandic accounts is a matter for Powys and the other councils involved and no one else in Wales. It's called grown up politics and being accounatbale for your actions to your electorate.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - My guess is that this is being paid for out of his Communications Allowance - in other words taxpayer's money. The last one we all had was when we all thought there was going to be General Election last October. I hope that an incoming Conservative Government will try to abolish this disgraceful Allowance, which is so often blatantly using Our taxes for political promotion.

Ben - why on earth not. I don't choose my friends and walking partners on the basis of their politics.

Jeff - this is clearly going to become a major issue, if the money is not refunded. Lets hope councillors do their jobs and ask public questions about this issue. I would be very surprised if there is any genuinely searching questions asked. Just all the wagons brought into a circle.