Sunday 26 March 2017

Election Tour 2017: Stew, a shouty interview and a fox

A small fanfare for Y Cneifiwr's blog which has just notched up one million hits.

Once you have calmed yourselves after that exciting news, settle down for this week's bus tour.


22 March marked the start of nominations for the council elections in May, and we won't know the full list of who is standing where until late on 4 April. If you don't like elections, you may want to dive back under the duvet and stay there for the next six weeks because despite the commotion of the last couple of months, the main show has yet to get underway.

Felinfoel and Llannon

When it does, all human life will be there, and this week's edition of Y Byd ar Bedwar on S4C provided a powerful reminder of just how dire some of the current batch of elected representatives are.

The programme looked at the school row in Llangennech. There was Hugh Richards (Independent, Felinfoel) looking well past his sell-by date mumbling incoherently from a script which could have been written by his old friend, Meryl Gravell. Meryl told gobsmacked councillors a few years ago that her grandchildren's Welsh had improved no end since leaving Ysgol y Strade and moving to London.

Richards is a former president of the National Farmers' Union Wales who picked up an OBE in 1999 for services to agriculture. In 2008 he was prosecuted and fined for breaching animal welfare laws after he was caught transporting lambs suffering from foot rot to market.

Hugh Richards will be nudging 80 by the time we go back to the polls in 2022.

Even less appealing was Cllr Kim Thomas (Labour, Llannon) who put on a shouty, angry performance for the cameras. She had come in for a lot of criticism for saying that phasing out the English stream in Llangennech was apartheid, and she went even further in her interview with Y Byd ar Bedwar, questioning the value of Welsh medium education and the Welsh language. You couldn't even use it in Swansea, she said.

Despite holding these views, Cllr Thomas is governor of the Welsh-medium Ysgol Cross Hands.

Unlike Cllr Thomas, many parents and pupils know that being able to communicate effectively in Welsh as well as English is a very useful thing to have on your CV, and it opens up opportunities in a whole host of fields, ranging from local and national government (in Cardiff, Cllr Thomas!), the health service, the law, education, the performing arts and the media as well as in the private sector.

The BBC also helpfully reminded us this week that 47% of all Welsh speakers live within a 50 mile radius of Swansea.

If Kim Thomas did not look so angry and miserable, it would be tempting to say that ignorance is bliss.


Meanwhile, over in Pontaman, Cneifiwr understands that Colin Evans (Lab) is probably feeling pretty miserable after being bitten on the nose by a fox that he thought he had shot dead but which still had a lot of life left in it.

Cadno, the Herald's star columnist, will be delighted.

Members of the public should approach the councillor with care. Frothing at the mouth may just be a sign that he is contemplating his comrades in Llanelli Labour or the likely outcome of the council elections, but you never know. Best call a vet..

Abergwili - Fruit and Nut Balls

Veteran Independent leader, Pam Palmer, is hanging up her broomstick at last and handing the reins to Lisa Fearn. Lisa is a familiar figure to S4C's daytime viewer with her appearances in the cookery slot on Prynhawn Da where she magics up delights ranging from potted panna cotta (but probably not LibDem falafal filled pitta pockets) to fruit and nut energy balls.

Think of her as Carmarthenshire's answer to Nigella.

Here's a recipe for stew.

She also runs a cookery and gardening school from her home a couple of miles outside Carmarthen and is married to Jonathan Fearn, Head of Property for Carmarthenshire County Council.

If elected, being a councillor married to a senior councillor officer would have its challenges, and conflict of interest would prevent her from taking part in many council decisions.

There is of course absolutely no truth in the old Carmarthenshire saying that the Independents are Mark James's political wing, but if you want an effective councillor in Abergwili who is not torn by the demands of running a business, trips to the TV studio and a slightly limiting relationship with a senior council officer, vote for Dorian Williams, former head of Ysgol Bro Myrddin.

Or face detention.


And so we wave a fond farewell to veteran Independent Elmer Fudd, or Daff Davies as he was sometimes known.

Daff being prodded by the chief executive

Daff Davies beat off very stiff competition to become the current holder of Worst Council Chairman Ever. Worse even than Ivor Jackson (Ind., Llandovery), and that took some doing.

Elmer briefly rose to fame for championing the Dylan Thomas Memorial Wind Turbine on the farm of some friends overlooking the boozy poet's famous writing shed. The planning decision was eventually overturned, with council tax payers picking up another hefty bill.

In 2012 Daff squeaked in just 5 votes ahead of his Plaid opponent, Carys Jones. It was rumoured locally that Daff ensured victory by bussing his Polish farm workers to the polling station.

Hoping to fill Daff's oversized clown shoes for the Independents is Roger van Praet, a keen trainspotter who works in insurance. Simmer down at the back!

With a very good chance of taking the ward for Plaid is Carys Jones who is standing again.

Carys is from a local farming family; she works part time for UCW Trinity Saint David's and has extensive experience in public finance and supporting community projects.


Anonymous said...

Daff Davies was always keen to ensure that any agricultural related applications recommended for refusal would be considered by the planning committee and then passed, on very flimsy grounds, against officer’s advice. In the costly case of the Dylan Thomas Memorial Wind Turbine debacle it was an application for his friend and former employer. The judicial review judge said what most people already knew “…I regard what Councillor Davies said as illogical and not capable of being rationally supported…”
With his going the committee’s workload should be dramatically reduced.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on passing the milliion mark. Long may this wonderful blog continue!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your blogging milestone - always an interesting viewpoint Cneifiwr . I was surprised with you onone hand deriding LF for standing amongst all her work commitments then praising CJ in Llansteffan for her ability to work part time and also run for CCC . Also your previous stand against elderly councillors surely the former Head Teacher of Bro Myrddin is not in the first flush of youth and is up against younger woman who obviously can multi task perhaps she is the example of ask a busy person and is more likely to be done !!!

Cneifiwr said...

There is a difference between working part time (Carys) and LF's busy schedule, surely?

As for age, unless and until the day comes when there is reform and standing for election as county councillor is made practical for the majority of people under 65 (and rising), we have to accept that retired people will continue to make up the bulk of our elected representatives.

Tessa said...

You're so funny! Well done on 1 million hits! What percentage were County Council I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Making age an election issue might not be the cleverest strategy in Abergwili if one reads the ward profile that is published on the CCC website. One of the key ward descriptors reads, " Relatively high proportion of people aged over 45 compared to the Carmarthenshire Average, and a lower proportion of 0-4 and 25-44 age groups".

Anonymous said...

Look into Ammanford Town Council Partners of Councilliors gain lucrative posts - technical officer related to councillor , event manager - partner of mayor . precept gone up by horrendous amount . something is smelly down on the The Old Cross

Anonymous said...

Yes 16:11 all true,but just the tip of the Iceberg.