Of all the stories covered by this blog, it is fair to say that the question of whether or not Llanelli should break away from Carmarthenshire attracted the most lively comments last year. Opinion was divided between those who live in the town and who want to have a greater say in how it is run, and a rather more curmudgeonly bunch from other parts of the county who clearly felt that Carmarthenshire would be a better place without Llanelli. In a strange way, then, there was consensus.
In reality, there was no likelihood that Llanelli would be allowed to break away and set itself up as a separate unitary authority. Carmarthenshire County Council was obviously dead set against the idea, as was the Welsh Government which understandably does not want to see yet another local authority adding to the 22 we already have.
The motion submitted by Mayor Winston Lemon (Plaid) resulted in a whipped vote. Llanelli Town Council has 20 members, with Labour holding 10 seats, Plaid 8, the LibDems 1 and John Jenkins (the maverick former Tory) bringing up the rear. Labour could hardly be expected to vote to leave an authority headed by its own party leader, even if he does come from Ammanford, and so the outcome of the vote was never in doubt.
What remains true is that there is significant dissatisfaction with Carmarthenshire County Council in the town, across the political spectrum. As one commenter has pointed out, it is not a question of wanting more money, but deciding how that money is spent. You only have to take a look at Llanelli to realise that something has gone seriously wrong there, thanks in large part to the county council's love affair with big ticket, prestige regeneration projects which tend to suck the life out of surrounding areas.
It is unlikely that this is the last we will hear of this debate. Politically, Plaid Cymru has a distinctive platform which it can use to rebuild its support in the town. Labour, as in so much else, has painted itself into a corner as a party of the Establishment opposed to change, while the County Council will carry on as before, convinced of its own infallibility when it should be asking itself why it is so deeply unloved in Llanelli.
Meanwhile, the Western Mail reports on questions raised by Cllr Siân Caiach about the legality of the massive overt and covert subsidies Carmarthenshire County Council has doled out to the Scarlets. As council tax bills are set to go on rising, she has pointed out that the millions which have been poured into the grandiose Parc y Scarlets scheme mean that taxpayers from every corner of the county are being made to pick up the cost.
Of particular interest is the question whether these subsidies are lawful under EU competition law, and it is a question which could well be asked of other Carmarthenshire regeneration projects as well. In the case of the East Gate development, the contractors were selected from a shortlist of preferred suppliers, and the whole scheme underwritten with public money which has resulted in council staff being moved out of council-owned buildings and into rented office space.
As the Western Mail article points out, EU competition law is highly complex, but it is also a subject which causes organisations much larger than Carmarthenshire County Council to have sleepless nights. Cneifiwr remembers working for a company which became the subject of a complaint. Within days, all 10,000 staff were compelled to attend lengthy seminars on the subject. Officials could swoop at any time, we were warned, and the company's top brass could be held personally liable and be hauled off to prison. Shortly afterwards, a posse of corporate lawyers seized some of Cneifiwr's juiciest files, and they were never seen again.
Let's hope that the Council has really done its homework and not jumped in where so many wiser heads would fear to tread.
And finally, as Trevor Macdonald used to say, the County Council's press office is reporting that the Llanelli branch of New Look has sold out of "onesie" adult baby gro's. These are, Cneifiwr has been informed, an all-in-one garment popular with fetishists who like to act out their fantasies as babies.
The Ministry of Truth goes on to tell us in its inimitable ungrammatical style that it's not just onesies which are going down a storm at New Look:
Store manageress Bianca has a reputation for sensational manicured and
painted finger nails which customers journey to view which is also
helping to claw in custom.
So now you know where to go if you want some sensational nails and fancy playing kinky games.
When you open up your next council tax demand, you will at least have the pleasure of knowing that some of your money is keeping the council's TrashPR outfit in gainful employment as well as helping the big retail chains cut down on their advertising budgets.
Next up the Press Office will be explaining how we can all lead a healthier lifestyle and lose £££s by visiting the new mega Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Carmarthen.