Wednesday 11 April 2012

In praise of community councillors

In the political pecking order community and town councils are as low as you can get, and as with so much else in life, that's where a lot of the hard graft and the dirty jobs get done that nobody else wants to do. They try to keep the place tidy; they run the village halls; they get called out when there's a burst pipe in the community centre; they badger the county council to come and fill in pot holes; they put up Christmas lights; mow grass and sit through lots of boring meetings on miserable winter nights. They are certainly not in it for the money - there isn't any, and they have next to no power.

They get to comment on planning applications, but certainly in Carmarthenshire the county council rarely if ever takes notice of what they think.

Across Carmarthenshire, as elsewhere, there are hundreds of them, and like any other large body of people there are good ones, bad ones and indifferent ones. But we should be thankful that they take on this role.

Looking at the nominations (here) there will be elections in some places that have not seen a contest in years. And the nominations also tell you a bit about the character of the various towns and villages.

As you might expect, the larger towns go in for political representation, with Plaid and Labour the dominant players. There are small pockets of LibDems in Llanelli, and just 5 Tories standing across the county as official Conservative candidates (about a third of the number standing in the county council elections).

There are almost twice as many people standing for People First (9) as there are Tories. Perhaps the barrister/investment banker/would-be squires of the Tory Party are too grand for this sort of thing.

There are no UKIP or BNP candidates, it is pleasing to note. There is a sole Christian standing in order to "proclaim Christ's Lordship" in Ammanford.

In Kidwelly a local group calling itself "Community and Heritage for a Change" is fielding quite a few candidates.

For reasons which are unclear most of those standing in Abernant found it necessary to describe themselves as a "local government elector for the area". Isn't everyone over the age of 18?

The majority of candidates do not give a description, but where they do, it is usually either a political party or an occupation (lots of farmers, a milkman, teachers, a gas driver). Occasionally we get something more interesting.

In Cynwyl Gaio (Farmers), one candidate describes himself as a Red Dragon. In Laugharne another describes himself as "Creator of the Tin Shed Experience". Another one in Laugharne describes himself as "Farmer and Creator of Dylan's Birthday Walk". Presumably that's Dylan Thomas.

In Drefach Felindre, Mrs Jones describes herself as "cyn athrawes, gweithgar a chydwybodol" (a former teacher, hard working and conscientious). In Llansawel Mr Davies describes himself as "dyn onest, gweithgar yn y gymuned" (an honest man working hard in the community).

In Llanwinio Mr Huw James describes himself simply as "Cymro Cymraeg, Ffermwr Lleol" (a Welsh-speaking Welshman and local farmer). Down in Pendine, Mr Allen is simply "a person who cares about Pendine".

There's a sociology PhD thesis in here somewhere.

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