Last week the County Council met to discuss the recently signed Compact between the Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government. This initiative was the brainchild of Carl Sargeant, Welsh Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, and it was intended to be a framework for closer cooperation between Welsh local authorities in three key areas: education, social care and waste.
Earlier this year the Welsh Government announced that it would be creating new regional groupings of local authorities which would work more closely together in these areas to eliminate waste and pool resources. Carmarthenshire was grouped with Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.
There is widespread agreement in Wales that 22 separate local authorities and 2 National Parks are a recipe for waste, and the result for people across Wales has been a proliferation of daft bureaucratic boundaries where often the services closest to you are out of bounds because they fall under a neighbouring authority.
Of course the county councils like to boast of how they cooperate with their neighbours, but the truth is that far more schemes involving cross-border cooperation have been wrecked or never got beyond brain storming sessions because of the obstructionism which is rife between neighbouring councils.
The leader of Carmarthenshire, Meryl Gravell, made a mockery of the Compact when she told councillors that the agreement, which had gone through multiple drafts, would now mean no change in eduction, social care and waste; throwing in for good measure that just because the Council had signed up for something did not mean that it would happen.
Back in the real world, Carmarthenshire has shown just what it thinks of the Compact by submitting a planning application to itself to build a new waste recycling centre at a hamlet locally known as Five Roads near the village of Cwmpengraig, not far from Newcastle Emlyn.
Five Roads is deep in the rural hinterland of Carmarthenshire, with no large population centres nearby. It is made up of about 15 houses and farms on an exposed hilltop (most of the land is around 900 feet above sea level). Life is harsh up there for much of the year, and Cneifiwr himself has seen over a foot of snow lying there when less than a quarter of a mile away there is none. The roads are quiet country lanes.
The recycling centre would have parking for 6 cars and receive household waste. It will operate from 8am to 5 am and be floodlit.
A few yards away is a smallholding, and the owner who also works as a gamekeeper, has brought together the local community to try to stop the plan which would blight the homes and lives of the 40 or so residents, most of whom have very deep roots in the area.
The largest population centre is Newcastle Emlyn itself (population around 900 on the Carmarthenshire side), and the site is approximately 6 miles from the centre of town.
Roughly 12 miles from Newcastle Emlyn is an existing household recycling centre between Cardigan and Pen-y-Parc, but this is out of bounds to residents of Newcastle Emlyn and the nearby villages of North Pembrokeshire because it lies in Ceredigion. Currently people from Newcastle Emlyn wishing to go to a tip have to do a round trip of just over 50 miles. So much for the councils' green credentials.
Given the size of the population involved (small), the simplest and by far the cheapest solution would be to negotiate access for the people from this corner of the county to use the Cardigan site, but then that would involve cooperation with a neighbouring authority and not re-inventing the wheel.
Let's hope that this example of local government at its most arrogant and wasteful gives Carl Sargeant the wake-up call that Cardiff so badly needs to hear.