Monday 10 December 2012

Independence, irony and ingratitude

The phrase Carmarthenshire County Council uses to dismiss its critics is usually something along the lines of "a small, unrepresentative group which has a problem with local government". In the case of Llanelli Town Council and a good many of the town's residents, County Hall may have to come up with something different. "Rabble" didn't go down too well last time, did it? No, it really will have to work on this one. Fortunately, it has all those PR people to come up with the goods (20 of them, apparently).

The problem is that Llanelli doesn't want to be in Carmarthenshire any more. A motion presented by Mayor Winston Lemon (Plaid) seeks to take back decision-making powers from the county council in what could be the first step towards creating a separate unitary authority.

This is a bit of a PR disaster for the self-proclaimed best council in Wales. If it's really that good, why would a big chunk of it want to leave?

Llanelli Town Council is a democratically elected body, and was here making a democratic decision. The run-up to the vote and the views of quite a few local people were reported by the Llanelli Star here. In a separate piece of equal length (here), readers of the paper were treated to the views of the unelected chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council attacking the motion and complaining at length about the ingratitude of some people. Only a week earlier, he reminded readers, the council had had to step in to deal with whingeing about the East Gate development.

County Hall doesn't do irony.

A second strand of irony was almost certainly lost on the chief executive: the town's wish to have more say in its own affairs is in no small part a reaction to the way he has run the county council  for the past 11 years.

Readers who do not live in Carmarthenshire may find it strange that a council chief executive is so publicly involved in political debate. Where were the elected politicians in all this, they may wonder.

To be fair to Carmarthenshire County Council, it has a bit of a problem here. Fielding Kevin Madge, the shambling, rambling council leader from Garnant would only have inflamed the separatists, while putting up deputy leader Pam Palmer to defend Carmarthen rule would probably have led to the immediate outbreak of civil war. Tegwen Devichand, the second deputy leader, has the advantage of coming from Llanelli, but probably felt that saying anything would be political suicide.

Certainly, if Llanelli (population 47,000) were to become a separate unitary authority, there would be major consequences for the rest of the county (population 180,000).

Llanelli is not the only part of the county which might want to contemplate an alternative future. Llandovery, about to lose its secondary school, might cast amorous glances across the border at Powys, while in the west St Clears and Whitland feel neglected and unloved. Pembrokeshire may be a basket case local authority, but being able to write Pembrokeshire on your address might do wonders for property prices and tourism. Step forward the Selwyn Runnett Liberation Front.

Up on the #welshtaliban infested North West Frontier, Newcastle Emlyn and the surrounding area (equally unloved and neglected) may be torn out of the existing Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency and lumped in with a much enlarged Ceredigion. Perhaps it might be better to go the whole hog and make the area part of Ceredigion full stop.

There may even be a case for creating yet another unitary authority. How about the County Borough of Trimsaran? In a single two-member ward Meryl Gravell and Pam Palmer could become councillors and Executive Board members for life, while the chief executive makes a bid for the 2024 Olympics to be hosted in a new Robbie Savage Stadium, and Pembrey Airport could expand to position itself as the new London hub airport.

The regeneration possibilities would be endless, and council tax hikes in Trimsaran would ensure that the village became rabble-free.

Meanwhile, in this digital age, we will have to wait a few more days to find out the result of the Llanelli vote. Or nearly two months if we wait for the official minutes.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Tonight will be at 'regeneration' meeting in Llandovery -- may suggest an approach to Powys! I heard Coun. Lemon on the radio, naturally Carmarthen did not want to be involved in the discussion.

Anonymous said...

You have taken all the money from CARMARTHENSHIRE and now you want to leave the county ie THE SCARLET ETC

Anonymous said...

With all that money had has been thrown at Llanelli - Parc Scarlets , East Gate , even a new library { who is that person who can read in LLanelli - Cneifiwr please exposure that person } and now they want UDI . Well as a person living in Rural Carmarthen shire I would say goodbye and goodluck to Llanelli and hope you survive !!!

Anonymous said...

Diolch Kevin am y sylw.Thanks for your comment Kevin

Anonymous said...

With the release of the stats from Census 2011 , we now need to ship Llanelli away and restore Carmarthen shire to a Welsh Speaking County Thats were the bulk of the English speakers are , also the largest Polish contingent so Llanelli Unitary Auth Ok

Anna Mosity said...

It seems that some of the commenter's on here have missed the point.

Llanelli residents don't want to leave Carmarthenshire because they don't like their rural neighbours, they want to leave because the lack of democracy in County Hall means that residents have no say in the decisions that affect them.

Anonymous said...

Llanelli has had all the money from CARMARTHENSHIRE ie SCARLETS ETC and now they want to leave and i am glad that MR MARK JAMES is standing up to them, let look at both lists CARMARTHEN and LLANELLI and see who has had the most , and i am sure its LLANELLI , take the XMAS LIGHTS in LLANELLI C C C pay for it in LLANELLI and in CARMARTHEN they dont get any money from C C C

Ioan said...

Dwi'm yn deallt...! Mae Llafur yn rheoli Sir Gaerfyrddin, hefyd efo'r mwyafrif o gynghorwyr Llanelli. Mi faswn i wedi disgwyl i weddill y sir drio gadael Llanelli???

Anonymous said...

Iesu. Paid meddwl am ymuno â Phowys. Mae'r rhan fwya o Bowys yn meddwl ymuno â Lloegr! :-)