I read in this weekend's Montgomeryshire County Times an article written by the former MP, Lembit Opik, advising me what objectives I should set for myself. Interesting thought I, but nothing wrong with that. I've had all sorts of people giving me advice. But the bit that gets me is that he claims he would have achieved these objectives if only he had not lost the election. Lets look at them in turn, and see what you think.
First up is the removal of five sets of traffic lights in Newtown, and the delivery of a new by-pass for the town. I've been involved in campaigning for this by-pass for decades. Its over 20 years since I was told with absolute conviction (when I was Chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales) that a by-pass would be completed within 10 years! Actually, I do believe that we will see a Newtown By-pass started within five years - mainly because of the seriously unwise decision to allow Tesco the build prematurely, which has caused such traffic chaos. A point I do have to make is that this issue is devolved to the National Assembly, and so does not fall within the MP's power - which is what Lembit found out when he tried to have one of the sets of lights removed. It will be a big issue for me though - but for our 'team' of MP, AM and councillors. I reckon I'm in with a chance on this one.
Second up is to save the jobs at Shop Direct at Newtown. The former MP claims to have helped postpone the job losses until December. Must admit that's at angry variance to what people working at Shop Direct have been telling me. Lembit also tells us that he was 'in negotiations' with buyers for the firm. I shall write to the local Lib Dem office tomorrow to ask for the details of these buyers. No stone can be left unturned. I'm sure he'll be keen to let me have the contacts. I'll keep you posted on this. I will also pass anything promising on to the Assembly Government who are leading the search for a buyer.
Third up is to restore the Montgomery Canal to the national canal network by 2015, which it seems can only happen with the right 'MP input'. I was involved in this project for 15 years before Lembit even moved to Montgomeryshire from the North East of England. Its a worthy objective but has been fraught with frustration and delay over many decades. I'm an enthusiast, and will discuss it when I launch the Dingy Dawdle on the Canal next month - but I do think connecting to the network in 5 years could be too tall an order.
Fourth objective is the restoration of A and E services to our hospitals. He's off on one here. Two points to make. No way can this happen, no matter how brilliant an MP we may have lost - and its not an MP's call anyway. He must have known this when he wrote the words. The best we can hope to see is a better Minor Injuries Unit service. The issue of greater importance (this is a job for the MP, and realistic) is to retain a full A and E service at the Royal Shrewsbury. I'm already well onto this one.
What did surprise me was that there was no mention in this wish list of keeping our secondary schools open, complete with their sixth forms - again not really a job for the MP, except as part of a 'team' including councillors and an AM. I'd have expected this to be at No 1. However I look at things, my predecessor has set me a pretty stiff challenge. Better change my name by deed poll to Glyn 'Hercules' Davies without delay.