Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Blue Six

Finally finished Tom Clancy's 'Rainbow Six' - so I can return to the keyboard tonight. A good read, if a touch too fantastic - and perhaps one story line too many. Anyway, this post is about the 'Blue Six' - that's the intrepid Montgomeryshire Conservative representation on Powys County Council, where we now have six out of the thirty-ish total. Since we've not had any before last May, this is a new experience for us. They make me feel 'avuncular'. But there's no point in the existence of Conservative Councillors, unless they bring some blue thinking to the debating chamber. And today they did just that.

This afternoon, the Executive Management Board, decided on its Council Tax recommendation, which will go for debate at the full Council meeting, later this month. There was a range of opinions going into the meeting. The Powys Independent Group (PIGs) wanted an increase of 3.99%, Montgomeryshire Independent Group (MIGs) wanted an increase of 2.9%, The Lib Dems wanted an increase of 2.75% and the Conservative Group wanted to 'freeze' any increase at the level of inflation, which we believe can reasonably be considered to be 2%. The outcome was that the MIGs budget was carried, with the support of the Lib Dems and Labour. The Council's budget looks as if it going to be set by the MIGs, the second largest group, which is interesting. I was really pleased that the 'Blue Six' held out for 2% - and I hope an amendment will be tabled at full Council accordingly.

Setting the Council Tax level is never easy. A balance has to be struck between what Councillors believe they need to provide a service, and the ability of Council Tax payers to pay it. Well this year the majority of Montgomeryshire's Council Tax payers have less money than they had last year. There are speeches to be made about job losses, lower income from savings and anticipated inflation levels. We need to hear the 'Blue Six' on their feet, championing the cause of the long suffering taxpayers of Montgomeryshire. And Brecon and Radnorshire's 'Blue Three' can wade in as well.

UPDATE - I do want to point out that our full team includes three Conservative Councillors from Brecon and Radnorshire as well as the six from Montgomeryshire, and all nine were as one on this issue. I do try not to poke my nose into B and R matters, where Suzy Davies is our excellent Parliamentary candidate. And I was influenced by the link to the book I'd just finished reading. This update has been inspired by a comment from Jane.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bizzare post Glyn!

What interests me is where you get your (incorrect) information from?

The PIGS as you refer to are, and have been since May, called Powys Independent Alliance (PIA)

Secondly the Tory two on the Board failed to come up with anything! No firm proposals and abstained from voting!!
All groups have had time to discuss the budget and their proposals for counil tax yet the Tories failed to come up with anything! This is disastorous for them and shows a complete lack of integrity, experience and political awareness.
What is the point of them being on the Board if they abstain and cannot come up with proposals or take decisions? They could have easily voted against the other groups proposals.
But of course the Tory Two are getting a reputation of abstaining. If they haven't got the courgae of their convictions then they should get out! Surely someone in the Tory group is up to making tough decisions?? Lets see a re-shuffle!

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I know the name of the Group has changed - but the only person that I've heard use the new name so far has been Cllr. Wynne Jones. Everyone else still uses the old name.

As far as I know, the Conservative position is clear enough. Since the first discussions on this issue, they have talked about 2%. As the ability of the people of Powys to pay Council Tax has become increasingly compromised, its no surprise that they should have stuck to the 2% figure.

Bearing in mind the Conservative position, you could hardly expect them to do anything but abstain. If they had voted against the 2.9% increase, it would have been defeated, and the 3.99% figure of the PIG/PIA would have gone frowards to the full Coucil meeting. Also, since the Conservative Group will probably table an amendment in that meeting to restrictthe increase to 2%, it would have looked odd to have voted for anything higher at the Board meeting. Personally, I've always found the principle of an Executive Board as an unsatisfactory way to run a Council. But we have to work within the structure we have, and find ways of participating that do not compromise our position to represent the people in the best way we can

Anonymous said...

Ok Glyn but why didn't they vote against the 3.99% or against the 2.99 insteaf of abstaining? That surely would have made their stance more clear? Also WHY oh WHY if they feel so strongly about the 2% didn't they out it forward at the Board meeting?
I understand their leader, Cllr Simon Baynes (?) suggested 2% at a PCC Budget seminar some months ago so they should have had time to come up with firm calculations by now.

Jane said...

Glyn,

I think you may need to remember that you have a blue 9 and my information tells me that one of the two on board is a B & R man, I think it is a bit unfair to claim victory for the 6 and declare them as heroes, if your going to go that far should it not be all 9.

I appreciate that your terttorial with montgomeryshire but you need to look at the bigger picture of the whole of the county which is what all 9 of them seem to be doing.

I don't think what they did yesterday was disastorous at all, they stuck to their guns, they have always wanted around 2% and that is what they went for.

I suspect if you ask Edna she will tell you after peeking through keyholes and email inboxes no doubt that all 9 of them were quite active in discussions gone by and in fact all 3 B & R blues were present yesterday at the board meeting.

Just a thought.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I just don't know the answers to these questions. I wasn't there and know only what I've asked about. Neither do I know what will happen at the full Council meeting, but I do think that is the forum where the Council Tax is set - where all councillors are involved and will have their say. I'm told that the Conservative Board Members made their position clear by reading out a statement declaring a view that the increace should be limited to 2%.

Jane - You have a good point - but I suppose it came into my mind because Tom Clancy's book is not called 'Rainbow Nine'. I also try to restrict my comments to Montgomeryshire, while Suzy Davies comments about B and R. Having siad that, I do think it would have been better to refer to nine rather than six in this post - so I'll add an update to compensate.

Jane said...

Thank you Glyn.

I just think it is important that you bear in mind how widely read your blog seems to be and therefore how your comments may be perceived by people who live in brecon and radnorshire.

In the spirit of being fair to everyone, I think it is important to remember that the county boundaries include montgomeryshire and brecon and radnorshire and that unlike others my sources tell me they do work as a team.

At the last full council meeting I believe the pigs, migs, labour were all over the place, changing their minds on comments previously made regarding street lighting and it came to the crunch time, the vote when they had an ammendement which Edna's sister tells me was not really an ammendment because it completely negated the motion put forward by your blue 9 and the lib dems, when it came it was achieved with a majority of around 7/8, so changes of opinion all over the chamber.

At least the Conservatives are consistent.

My sources indicate they are finding their feet quickly, all 9 of them. Making steps in the right directions, small steps but at least they are steps forward and not backwards.

The people of Powys will thank them for 2%.

Glyn Davies said...

Jane - A pleasing comment. We do try to adopt a 'team' approach. The day befoe the Board budget meeting all nine Powys Councillors met in our office at Welshpool, and invited me and Suzy Davies to join them. They are all new councillors and I think doing a very good job.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon

Thank you for your comments but I think you miss the point by the Tories voting against 3.99% and abstaining against 2.99% the full council will now have a paper for 2.99%. Also they keep to there honourable 2% stance.

It is easier to work with council on 2.99% and come down to 2% than from 3.99%. This is what the PIA wanted to tax the residents of Powys in these hard times.

It is nice to see we now have councillors who are willing to use there heads and also not be bulled in to a decisions that will effect the people of Powys. So who has got the BALLS in the right place. Down below and Not in there heads.

Russ George said...

Glyn

The Conservative group was the first to make there position clear on the budget. On the 21st November at the full council meeting we announced that we could only support an increase in Council Tax of around 2% and our group has been consistent in that point of view.

Anonymous seems to have been given incorrect information, If they had been there, they would have known that:

In regards to “The Tory two on the Board failed to come up with anything! No firm proposals and abstained from voting!!” “What is the point of them being on the Board if they abstain and cannot come up with proposals or take decisions? They could have easily voted against the other groups proposals”

As one of the 2 board members being referred to, I read out a statement which detailed how we would active our 2% with all the firm calculations. Following the statement the chairman of the board commented that we had been very clear.

In regards to abstaining, again Anonymous is incorrect, Both of us voted against the 3.99% proposal. We abstained on the 2.99%. We could not have supported this, as we had just stated once again our “2%” position. If we had voted against the amendment, then it would have lost and the 3.99% would have won the vote.

I do appreciate that how committee’s work and the voting process can be confusing and Anonymous may not have understood. I hope this has cleared up the misinformation that they received.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon and Russ - I totally agree with you both. It s clearly a rather new experience for the Council to have a group which is not prepared to be pushed around. It would be great to have a proper debate about the level of Council Tax on the Chamber floor - which is why I hope that there will be an amendment proposing a 2% only increase. It might not succeed, but in arguing their corner, the Conservative Councillors will be reassuring taxpayers that there is a genuine concern about the financial difficulties they are currntly facing.