Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Postponing Mid Wales Connection.

National Grid has informed us that it is postponing its announcement about which part of Mid Wales it wants to desecrate with its landscape wrecking 400 kv line from Shropshire to a 20 acre electricity substation in mid-Montgomeryshire to serve around 500/600 new wind turbines. Personally I welcome this postponement.  Eventually the madness of onshore wind in general and this scheme in particular will become obvious to all, so the longer its put off the better. Griff Rhys Jones came up with an interesting observation today when he described onshore wind as the "hypocrisy of green tokenism".

Amusingly, National Grid are putting it about that they are agonising over a difficult decision, and want to consider carefully impact on our countryside. You can believe that if you want. Is that a pig with a propeller on its back flying past my window! Far more likely that National Grid decided to postpone its decision so as to avoid its horrible plans being a Council election issue, and realised that to announce this week would expose its blatant tactics - so another postponement might make it look better.

Not sure that National Grid realises just how hated its becoming in Mid Wales. No-one likes a bully, no matter how the brutality is dressed up in nice words and glossy leaflets. In Mid Wales, National Grid  is the black enemy of the people.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Assembly Electoral Boundaries.

The Secretary of State for Wales has today published a Green Paper on 'Future Electoral Arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales'. Its a 12 weeks 'consultation paper'. There are several proposals up for consultation.

1) That the National Assembly should continue to have 60 members.

2) That the Assembly electoral boundaries should be changed to allow for 30 rather than 40 Assembly constituencies, coterminous with the new constituencies being introduced for the House of Commons.  Its also proposed that if the decision is to retain the current 40 constituencies, the boundaries should be adjusted to equalise the number of voters within each constituency. (to a tolerance of 5%).  The Government has a preference for the 30/30 split, though retains an open mind. Personally, I'm not expressing an opinion about this until the consultation period is over.

3)That the ban on candidates standing for a constituency and also taking a place on the 'regional list' should be removed. Now I am very much in favour of this, and considered the ban when introduced by Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan to be a spiteful, opportunistic exercise in gerrymandering. Needless to say it didn't work.  Gerrymandering rarely does.

4)That Westminster politicians should not be permitted to stand for election to the National Assembly - an end to what's known as 'double jobbing'. Have to be an arrangement for individuals wishing to 'transfer'.  Wonder what Lord Elis Thomas thinks of this!

Not been much immediate reaction that I've seen.  The Welsh Government seem to be suggesting that this issue is a matter for the Assembly. And First Minister has said that the Prime Minister reassured him that there would be no change in opposition to the will of the Welsh Assembly. We will find out in due course whether this is in fact the case. Not sure whether Labour are still advocating the ridiculous suggestion of Peter Hain that there should be 60 elected by FPTP, two from each consituency. 

Its also interesting that the Assembly Conservative Group is in favour of the status quo. At least that's what one of the leading members of the Group made clear on yesterday's Politics Show. Another one to watch.

I wonder how much interest this matter will generate amongst the public!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Melding's Mission

Now I've had the greatest respect for Conservative Assembly Member, David Melding. He's always been a lateral thinker, and is currently preforming splendidly as Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales. I've often heard people say that "Of course, he's not really a Conservative at all". Oh yes he is.  There are times when I think he's rather more Conservative than the Conservative Party.

Anyway, it seems he's launching a centre/right think tank, and hoping to attract supporters of Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives to sign up.  I like the idea, but am not convinced its a bird which will fly - at this early stage anyway.  I hope it does. Might be a better plan to try to 'infiltrate' the centre/left Institute of Welsh Affairs !

I'm looking forward to learning who the individuals involved in this new think tank are going to be.  It will be no use if its just populated by ex-politicians, and a few quagocrats. It needs some quality names like Brian Griffiths and Patrick Minford (or their youthful equivalents) and a strong base in universities. I'm sure David's got some good ideas. I wish it well.

New Powys Council Cabinet

I'm told that new Leader of Powys County Council has chosen his Cabinet.  Geographically balanced across the County. Must admit to one or two surprises though. But then I'm but an outsider. I wish them all well, and I'll do all I can to support them. Its going to be a seriously tough job.

Cabinet Leader - Cllr. David Jones
Property and Assets - Cllr. Garry Banks - Radnorshire
Planning - Cllr. Graham Brown - Montgomeryshire
Finance - Cllr. Dai Davies - Montgmeryshire
Children's Social Services - Cllr. Melanie Davies - Breconshire.
Adult Social Services - Cllr. Rosemarie Harris - Breconshire
Corporate Governance - Cllr.Gary Price - Radnorshire.
Human Resources - Cllr. Gareth Ratcliffe - Breconshire.
Highways - Cllr. Barry Thomas - Montgmeryshire.
Education - Cllr. Michael Williams - Montgomeryshire.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Goings on in Powys Council

My local weekly, the Montgomeryshire County Times has an irreverent 'Nelson's Column'.  This week 'Nelson' has given us an insight into the problems faced by new councillors in trying to agree a Cabinet to run Powys County Council.

"There are several problems with forming an actual working majority to run the Council. The 48 Independents split into two groups, the 'Shires' Independents and the Powys Independents. The actual policy differences between them isn't clear, and to be frank its difficult to find anyone who can tell you otherwise. There are numerous councillors in both groups who are well known to have an allegiance to a mainstream political party but bizarrely refuse to stand on that platform. The upshot is that we now have two 'independent' groups who refuse to work with each other. The Lib Dems who refuse to work with anyone (they've probably had enough public flogging for one decade) and Labour and the Tories (like children not trusted by their parents) who are not allowed to work together".

Nelson was very well briefed on what's been happening behind the scenes. In the end what happened was that the Leader of the smaller 'Independent' group, David Jones was elected Leader of the Council by 36 votes to 34. He was backed by the Tories, Labour and his own group. The Powys Independent Leader, Michael Jones, was backed by the Lib Dems (who had previously made clear they were going to sit on their hands) and his own group (best guess - secret ballot). I'm told that the Powys Independents were shocked after ruling the roost for so long that several of thier members broke down in tears at such seismic change. To the outside word Powys is still run by an Independent named 'Jones' - but inside the Council we've just witnessed a revolution.

It seems that the new Leader intends to choose his entire Cabinet form his own group (or cllrs ship-jumping from other groups)- which has led cllr, Gareth Ratcliffe to jump the Tory ship just a week after being elected as a Tory - which should lead to some blue disgruntlement down in the South of Powys. Updates as and when.