Friday 20 April 2012

Election report: Hotting up in Hengoed

Time to rev up the election bus and head off for Hengoed, stomping ground of People First's Cllr Siân Caiach, who has probably joined Caebrwyn and Cneifiwr on the Evangelical Alliance's List of the Damned following her appearance last night on Dragon's Eye. Best take a crash helmet, though, because there's a right old dust-up going on down there.

In Hengoed the Rural Council candidate slate has caused a big stir. There are 4 seats and 10 candidates: 4 Labour, 3 People First, 2 Plaid and one independent. The Labour slate contains only one local person, George Edwards, and two ladies from Dafen who are unknown to the locals.

The fourth candidate is inexplicably Cllr Keri Thomas. Despite being unable to attend a county council meeting for the last year because of serious illness, Keri Thomas is standing again. He was an active and enthusiastic vice chair of planning at County Hall. Together with his Labour colleague Terry Davies, known as the Keri and Terry Team, he would propose or second any planning application approved by the officers at the drop of a hat and, on at least one occasion, misinterpreting a pause in the officer's delivery of the recommendations, proposed the motion to pass an application half way through the opening remarks.

In any ward except Hengoed he would probably be a safe "paper candidate" as he would not be recognised as the same Cllr Keri Thomas who proposed the motion to develop the Stradey Park site, ignored pleas from the residents of Sandy Rd., Denham Avenue and the Iscoed council estate to modify the plans when the developers' own hydrology report showed that raising the 335 new executive homes out of the flood plain on an enormous artificial plateau several metres high would not only give the toffs a great "Gower View" over the existing homes, but significantly increase the risk of flooding which the aforementioned areas are already prone to.

Cllr Keri Thomas, who could certainly advise his fellow Labour councillor Anthony Jones on alcopops, is the man who on the last application proposed passing the plans "because we need affordable housing". When reminded that there was no affordable housing on this site, he paused, (possibly for thought, on the lines of "note to self, must start actually reading the papers before the meeting one day") and with slight irritation, repeated his proposal without the qualification. On a previous "site visit" he was amongst a group of councillors who drove through the site without getting off the bus. He has also supported the £40m plus subsidy to the Scarlets in grants and loans, as well as the new stadium and a free 150 year lease, etc.

This has gone down like a lead brick amongst the locals who heroically prevented the development for six years through various legal challenges. They will now oppose the new planning permission, the old one having expired.

In the convoluted world of Hengoed politics, independent candidates are spreading the rumour that Labour have deliberately put up Keri Thomas again as part of a "deal" with People First, discrediting their own string of candidates in Hengoed in order to give "People First" an advantage.This is no more true than claims that Kevin Madge once won a public speaking competition.

A doctor writes to say that under the circumstances, the Labour veteran's absence from canvassing may be a blessing in disguise, since being given a taste of local opinion would definitely not help his recuperation.


Anonymous said...

Being one of the labour ladies from Dafen who are 'unknown' I hope that I will not be unknown for too long. I have to say despite our differences in political ideology that I found your blog interesting, inciting and entertaining and will definitely come back again! Regards, Rosemary. :D

Cneifiwr said...

Thank you for the kind words Rosemary - Plaid and rank and file Labour members have much more in common than things that separate us, I always think. Diolch am gysylltu.