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Rocke

If a week's a long time.......

I almost get the feeling of waking from one of those 'cryosleep' things that astronauts are put into for those long trips in sci-fi movies.

Anyway, firstly HUGE apologies for next to no input for the past month or two. It's honest to say that some council meetings have been given a miss as well ( and more honest to say that some of the agendas were a bit sparse and I wasn't totally regretful ).

Anyway, I've been embroiled in quite important matters, and I mean almost daily. That doesn't mean nightly or weekends and it's clear that there's still a lot of people who can't believe some of the things going on, given the interaction I'm continuing to have.

One of the big ones at the moment is town. I'm not a Ward Councillor there and so I have to pass on any requests etc. to John, Nigel or Steve ( alphabetical order, don't anyone get the wrong idea....... ).
I give you information, which is that the next phase of the improvements (that's 4 steps back in order to advance 5, I think) is about to start.
A typical example - which is in fact a private venture, as it happens, is the complete trashing of the former Estate Agents, J&R etc.
The previous owners pulled out of a deal that the Council had spent years getting together, which would enable a large store to be available and smaller ones.  That was a specific one but there's now grant funding for thism private venture, so let's hope we can continue to increase the number of stores in the town.

A 'town green' as I call it will be created between the vicarage and St Michael's, with access via gates from Church St. ( Yes, through the wall ).

A lot of people have commented about how 'the council' puts things down/up, only to have them taken up/down again a short time later.
This time it's the solid blocks at the top of Church St.
Let's be blunt. They weren't a very good idea in hindsight, being targets for HGV's. They'ev had to be removed as I understand it so that access can be acquired to the former Karpet Forum, now ready for its facelift (in fact complete makeover almost).

I've mentioned this before. The nature of funding for the town means that things have to be done bit by bit, and the uncertainty regarding funding has meant that instead of having a coherent 'jigsaw' vision of our town in say 10 years time, and putting it together piece by piece, each one complementing the previous and next pieces, we seem to jump about.

Anyway, I told you that Abertillery would 'look like a building site for the next 18 months or so' as it had been expressed to me and of course I'm one councillor who does stick to his word.   AGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

OH NO !
I knew this would come up.
For ardent readers of the Gazette I apologise for a repeat performance.
We're now of course quite a few months in to this 'all hands to the wheel' scenario that's seen elements of former Executive members and Leadership have their careers resurrected, due in the main to the actions of the former Leader in seeking to form an alliance which he seems to believe would have saved us having commissioners in, and hence having no say in running the council.
I wonder if anyone has thought that there's only a single letter difference between 'running ' and 'ruining', and they're not that far apart on the keyboard, especially if you're hamfisted.

And the same goes for an election campaign ( which everyone seems to be embarked upon even now ).  I wonder if both Cllr Hillman and myself are running or ruining his?
Is he receiving £8,000 (pa) for leading his band of 5 ( what I really meant of course was 'has he the gall to claim it, in the face of what would be clear public disapproval'. Rightful is one thing, political correctness is another ).
The answer was.... I'm wrong, na-na-na. It's only £4,000.
(So in reality I ws right then ?).

This is what you're going to get for the next 3 months I'm afraid ( no, not me flogging a political corpse ). My advice is do not listen to a word anyone says, look into what they don't say.
Mr Allan Thomas in last week's Gazette - didn't say 'official Labour candidate' did he ?
No - because the massive amount of interaction I've done with people shows that the word 'Labour' will still not be an advantage on the ballot paper. Whether it's the disadvantage it was last time remains to be seen.
Everything Labour doesn't complain about is something good that this council did, and anything 'non-Labour' omits is not being fair, and explaining why it went wrong. That's what people want, information and explanation.        

Anyway, it's the conversions since the events of the Summer that
I find truly staggering.
Cllr Hillman wanted to do a deal with Labour, then resigned ungraciously, and then set up an opposition group because of coalition that had come about due to his statement to Council, about joint working.
Be interesting to see what Labour will do when we vote to set Council Tax. If you remember the first year they wanted it upped by more than the Independent Group thought necessary.
In ensuing years Labour declined to sit on the Budget Working Group. Now they're there.

I wish we had elections every year. 4 years of improvement - can you imagine it ?

Some things however don't change.
Before Christmas I had an Agenda-setting meeting for 'my' Committee of Env Health, followed by a meeting with the Executive Member, one Cllr Hedley McCarthy.

09:50 E3 to Ebbw Vale, arrived at 'the Civic' at 10:20 and as I walked up to the doors there steps Cllr McCarthy out of the Civic Car. Of course, as Executive Member he can wander over to the Civic anytime he wants.
However, just as with Cllr Hillman, rightful is one thing, correct and proper in the eyes of electors is another.

Ah - that reminds me, David's been making ( proper and perfectly fair ) noises.
More questions to answer.

Back with more news later !

Cheers.
Poppins

Re: If a week's a long time.......

[quote="Rocke:17273"]

This is what you're going to get for the next 3 months I'm afraid ( no, not me flogging a political corpse ). My advice is do not listen to a word anyone says, look into what they don't say.
Mr Allan Thomas in last week's Gazette - didn't say 'official Labour candidate' did he ?
No - because the massive amount of interaction I've done with people shows that the word 'Labour' will still not be an advantage on the ballot paper. Whether it's the disadvantage it was last time remains to be seen.
Everything Labour doesn't complain about is something good that this council did, and anything 'non-Labour' omits is not being fair, and explaining why it went wrong. That's what people want, information and explanation. † † † †

[/quote]

Councillor Rocke

Grateful if you could advise the 'good that this council did'?  The only good recently is that this 'Independent' council has been put into special measures isn't it?  

Obviously you'll understand myself and (I hope) my fellow voters will ignore your advice to ignore any uncomfortable questions asked by your opposition - why not give us some clear, honest answers and convince us that your worth our vote?

Looking forward to your response?
martyn142

It's good that they ended decades of Labour sloth, incompetence and under-achievement. Or do you believe that the decline of Blaenau Gwent began with the election of the Independent council?

I haven't been over-inspired by the new regime myself but I'd rather remove my own spleen than vote Labour back into power. They've proved themselves utterly useless many times over. The Independents haven't been helped by having that half-wit Hillman at the helm of course. Proof indeed that the Labour Party hasn't got the monopoly on lack of vision and inability.
bill

Half wit

Hi Martyn, Please tell me that half-wit Hancock's first name isn't Bill. LOL.
martyn142

Re: Half wit

bill wrote:
Hi Martyn, Please tell me that half-wit Hancock's first name isn't Bill. LOL.


hahaha - no Bill and I'm sure he's no relation! He'd find it hard to find his way out of Blaenau Gwent nevermind get as far as Canada.
Poppins

Not at all.  I think it was high time that Labour was kicked into touch!

I believe the decline of Blaenau Gwent council has been a long time coming (unfortunately).   But lets not forget the in fighting of the independents of late hasn't exactly helped or filled anyone with confidence.

Aside from that, my comment was more to remind that the recent track record of this independent council has been rather less complimentary that Rocke perhaps would like to admit, and the comment about 'looking into what they don't say' really should go both ways.

Regrettably,  this independent council has seen our Education Department put into special meaures, unfortunately this is surely one of the main things that they will be remembered for?

Why not use the forth coming election to start afresh - simple, honest answers to simple, honest questions.  Maybe we'll get somewhere.
Dai 6

martyn142 wrote:


I haven't been over-inspired by the new regime myself but I'd rather remove my own spleen than vote Labour back into power. They've proved themselves utterly useless many times over..


Voting labour would be the definition of insanity
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
martyn142

Poppins wrote:
Not at all. †I think it was high time that Labour was kicked into touch!

I believe the decline of Blaenau Gwent council has been a long time coming (unfortunately). † But lets not forget the in fighting of the independents of late hasn't exactly helped or filled anyone with confidence.

Aside from that, my comment was more to remind that the recent track record of this independent council has been rather less complimentary that Rocke perhaps would like to admit, and the comment about 'looking into what they don't say' really should go both ways.

Regrettably, †this independent council has seen our Education Department put into special meaures, unfortunately this is surely one of the main things that they will be remembered for?

Why not use the forth coming election to start afresh - simple, honest answers to simple, honest questions. †Maybe we'll get somewhere.


Not much I could disagree with there poppins.
martyn142

Dai 6 wrote:
martyn142 wrote:


I haven't been over-inspired by the new regime myself but I'd rather remove my own spleen than vote Labour back into power. They've proved themselves utterly useless many times over..


Voting labour would be the definition of insanity
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Laughing
Rocke

Re: If a week's a long time.......

Poppins wrote:
Rocke wrote:


This is what you're going to get for the next 3 months I'm afraid ( no, not me flogging a political corpse ). My advice is do not listen to a word anyone says, look into what they don't say.
Mr Allan Thomas in last week's Gazette - didn't say 'official Labour candidate' did he ?
No - because the massive amount of interaction I've done with people shows that the word 'Labour' will still not be an advantage on the ballot paper. Whether it's the disadvantage it was last time remains to be seen.
Everything Labour doesn't complain about is something good that this council did, and anything 'non-Labour' omits is not being fair, and explaining why it went wrong. That's what people want, information and explanation. † † † †



Councillor Rocke

Grateful if you could advise the 'good that this council did'? †The only good recently is that this 'Independent' council has been put into special measures isn't it? †

Obviously you'll understand myself and (I hope) my fellow voters will ignore your advice to ignore any uncomfortable questions asked by your opposition - why not give us some clear, honest answers and convince us that your worth our vote?

Looking forward to your response?


Hello and welcome Poppins.    

See what I mean?
It's started.

The Council IS NOT is Special Measures - Education is.
In my experience the 'Opposition' can't ask awkward questions. It's very well documented that it excels at making awkward - and ultimately proved to be wrong - statements.

Day One - Foundry Bridge, Cllr McCarthy found wanting there.
Street Lighting and all the deaths and everything that would come out of accidents and paramedics not finding their way etc. etc. - anyone heard of anything?
Fortnightly refuse collections, plagues of rats and the like - a Labour Councillor claimed in one meeting (that I chaired) that the ratcatcher said the problem had increased since fortnightly collections.
At the next meeting statistics showed that it had decreased hugely. (Obvious isn't it - give people a rat-proof container to put their rubbish in, and the rats toddle off somewhere else).

The Council is far closer to achieving targets set by the Labour-led WG, targets which if not achieved would lead to big rises in Council Tax, already one of the largest in Wales becuase of decisions taken by the old Labour-led council when it was first introduced.
I've explained a number of time but if anyone wants it again.

Absence from work cut from an average of 14 days per year to under 10. That's from near the top of the 'poor health' league to near the bottom and below the average not just for Councils but for ALL public sector bodies in Wales. 50 more people in work, every day.  

Acknowledged as being among the best in Wales in some aspects of Social Care, as relayed by the CSSIW in a presentation to Full Council on Thursday, a far cry from when Social Services was placed in 'special measures' under an old Labour-dominated Council. BG is the lead for the Adoption Panel covering us, Torfaen and Mon.

Regional Salt Barn and large scale Food disposal facility - all placed in BG's hands.

Council Tax increases lower each year, without taking money from the pot to make it look good.

Dynamism, a moving forward.

Independents asking awkward questions of 'their' own Council.
Problem has been inexperience and not getting answers. However, that's starting to be addressed. If every councillor got re-elected there would be a significant difference in the way the next council was run, simply because there wouldn't be a free run for all the 'experienced' councillors that the results of the last elections provided.

Just under a 1/3 of the ruling group were complete greenhorns, which left the way clear for inexperienced politicians.

That might sound a strange thing to say, but let's not forget that all 42 councillors had a new role to play after Labour's MayDay.
Labour councillors were new to opposition and the Independents' Executive and Leadership were new to power.

I said time and the electorate would decide who best adapted to their new roles.

'New' councillors have fallen by the wayside.
Certain 'inexperienced politicians' most certainly have.

Labour's been a complete mess in Opposition, deciding simply to bring up all manner of nonsense in such a nonsensical way that even when there are elements of truth their submission can simple be pooh-poohed away.

The electorate simply see 'boliticians' doing tweedledee and tweedledum impressions.

This isn't Parliament, where media presentation and the public image is all-important, but Labour's spin doctors think it is, that this is the way to conduct themselves in opposition.

The Independents have missed a massive opportunity in power. 'We' ( I say it like that because I work with people, I'm not part of a gang ) were the new breed.

Railing against inefficiency - great work regarding Absence Management, yet I recently had an envelope from the Council that cost £2.36 to send. I - and every one of my fellow councillors - probably cost at least £20 per month to correspond with.
That's around £10,000 per year. We need to modernise with email etc.
Railing against profligacy with things like 2 Civic Cars, yet only now has one been gotten rid of. Had we have bought the lease out or whatever it took we could have started saving more than £45,000 next year, we could have possible saved well over £100,000 these past years.  
Railing against 'Councillors Expenses' as they are called.
No increase for 3 years, instead of old Labour-led councils that at one point increased them beyond what even Labour HQ advised.
However, why couldn't we have reduced them ?
Just £1,000 would put the best part of £50,000 into a pot.

There - how often do you get a balanced view of what's gone on Poppins?

My advice to people is this:

1) Tell candidates to shut up and YOU speak.

2) Give them your impression of things, what's right and wrong.  Ask the questions you want, how they would do this and that etc.

3) Ask them for information. A most important one this. If people are going to represent you they should know what's going on, the reasons etc. They most certainly should know what they'll get up to as a councillor.

4) Ask who they will be supporting, especially if this is a hung council. I'd even go as far as to suggest that if there are persons or personalities that you particularly like or dislike ask them for their views on that person (without giving the game away of course !).

TO EVERY ELECTOR I SAY THIS:

THIS IS YOUR TIME. THIS IS YOUR AND YOUR FAMILY'S FUTURE FOR THE NEXT  F I V E  YEARS POSSIBLY.

*( Because the Parliamentary elections are in 2015, the labourites down the bay ie. Carl Sergeant, are using it as an excuse to put the WG elections back a year, which would coincide with - yes you've got it - the LG ones, so we might have councillors doing a 5-year stint as well ).

Let me make this absolutely plain.
There are damn good Independents out there, and there are damn good Labour councillors, and indeed there are damn good councillors of all shapes and colours.

A councillor is there for YOU (and your family etc ) first, your community second, the Borough (and politics) third and if they do all that then good representation and a good job will flow forth.

Mmm, couple of ideas for the manifesto there I think.
Rocke

Re: Half wit

martyn142 wrote:
bill wrote:
Hi Martyn, Please tell me that half-wit Hancock's first name isn't Bill. LOL.


hahaha - no Bill and I'm sure he's no relation! He'd find it hard to find his way out of Blaenau Gwent nevermind get as far as Canada.


Now, now gents.

There's always the Mayor's state visit, or the Town Council's twinning ambitions..........

 Very Happy
Rocke

Poppins wrote:
Not at all. †I think it was high time that Labour was kicked into touch!

I believe the decline of Blaenau Gwent council has been a long time coming (unfortunately). † But lets not forget the in fighting of the independents of late hasn't exactly helped or filled anyone with confidence.

Aside from that, my comment was more to remind that the recent track record of this independent council has been rather less complimentary that Rocke perhaps would like to admit, and the comment about 'looking into what they don't say' really should go both ways.

Regrettably, †this independent council has seen our Education Department put into special meaures, unfortunately this is surely one of the main things that they will be remembered for?

Why not use the forth coming election to start afresh - simple, honest answers to simple, honest questions. †Maybe we'll get somewhere.


Ah, so now it is only Education in special measures.
I'll, start with that one, and it's easy.

Independents take over a farm in May.
They nuture the crops, watch over them, feed them etc.
In August the Man from Estyn, he come and he say 'I want my fruit', to which we say 'er... it isn't ready. The previous farmer didn't plant the seeds early enough'.
As soon as this new council came into being it set about doing the unenviable work of having to slaughter schools, and it's a word I choose to use, because taking out a school rips a heart out of the community. The WG have backed us all the way.
There was the equivalent of probably 1.5 comprehensives empty.
Imagine Aber Comp, teachers and staff in attendance, energy costs etc - and not one pupil.

Every councillor since the turn of the century has played a part in this.
My part ?
I used to sit there, Vice Chair of Education & Leisure, listening to the results of Estyn Inspections and how we were doing the best we could under difficult circumstances - social and economic depression etc - and being self-congratulatory until the new measure - about the only sensible thing the WG's done in my view - came into being.
It's all very well doing the best you can, but we're being given - and spending - money to counter the disadvantages but our youngsters still don't have the advantages of qualifications.

These special measures have been an absolute Godsend. You should see the way some councillors are now falling over themselves to ensure that we say 'bye bye' to the WG's stormtroopers ( who, as it happens I'd love to see in charge of BG's Education for a couple of years, given the impact they've had and the expertise they clearly have ).

Governors aren't going to have it so cushy.
Old Labour-led councils filling boards with their mates.
Boards stacked with Labourites and school staff, such that it's impossible for other governors to get action taken.
(Remember how Cllr Delwyn Davies was treated by Aber Comp?)

The recent track record is totally different to what it should have been.
It should have shown a group of Independents intent upon making sure that the will of the people was carried out for a full term.
Cllr Hillman made a statement to Council that was not agreed by nor even consulted upon with all ( if any, as far as I know but I can only speak for myself ) of the group he thought he was leading ( I repeat, I work with, not as part of and I'm not splitting hairs, it's a material difference ).
Cllr Hillman should have been taken to task there and then and most certainly in an immediate aftermath. But no, 'politics' ( with a small 'p' ) came into it.
A disparate group, fractured by the machinations of two councillors in particular, and no-one wanted to grab the problem ( NOT Cllr Hillman ) by the throat.
Two meetings where it was all willy-nilly, because of the fear of permanent fracture.
Even now, who's the only one standing up and pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of some ?

Damned both ways really.
Stand up and give a balanced view and I'm guaranteed to say at least something that everyone will disagree with.

Tell the truth about Cllr McCarthy, and it's just politics, a councillor of one party attacking a councillor of another.
Tell the truth about Cllr Hillman and it's just politics, a independent councillor of one group attacking an independent councillor of another.

The difference is with the latter case is that you then get people such as Mr Bennett from Ebbw Vale helping Labour out by pointing out that the independents are scrapping among themselves.

Mr Bennett comes from Badminton.
Well, I'm pleased to say that I'm the one who courts controversy.
He, as quite a few I suspect, simply wouldn't hack what I put up with.
Dai 6

Rocke wrote:

Ah, so now it is only Education in special measures.
I'll, start with that one, and it's easy.

Independents take over a farm in May.
They nuture the crops, watch over them, feed them etc.
In August the Man from Estyn, he come and he say 'I want my fruit', to which we say 'er... it isn't ready. The previous farmer didn't plant the seeds early enough'.


Or to put it into good old Anglo-Saxon:
The independents didn't leave the pile of s**t, they were just in the room when it started to stink.
SonOfACynic

Thank you for simplifying that last one Dai6.

I gave up reading half way through.  Rolling Eyes
Rocke

Dai 6 wrote:
Rocke wrote:

Ah, so now it is only Education in special measures.
I'll, start with that one, and it's easy.

Independents take over a farm in May.
They nuture the crops, watch over them, feed them etc.
In August the Man from Estyn, he come and he say 'I want my fruit', to which we say 'er... it isn't ready. The previous farmer didn't plant the seeds early enough'.


Or to put it into good old Anglo-Saxon:
The independents didn't leave the pile of s**t, they were just in the room when it started to stink.


I'm in no doubt that I'd have been reported to the Ombudsman if I used that parlance.
But thanks Dai - I agree !
Dai 6

Rocke wrote:
I'm in no doubt that I'd have been reported to the Ombudsman if I used that parlance.
But thanks Dai - I agree !


I thought that was your new hobby  Wink
Rocke

I'm not sure if I've got the record, but 3 isn't bad.
I know there's been others.

(btw when I say '3 isn't bad' I don't mean I'm happy for the Ombudsman to have to waste time investigating stupid submissions, I mean that it's a sign that I've got to people. I pride myself on those I upset).

In a way that's raised a useful litttle point.

If we discount the single major intervention and highly publicised action by the PSO, which arose from incidents in the previous old Labour council, this is the first Council for years and years that hasn't had significant (in fact any?) action taken against any Member.

Isn't it strange ?
You would expect new councillors to slip up somewhere yet no-one has. We've had the mudslinging, the smoke from failed attempts to start fires but all the independent bodies have never had cause to take action against a Member or the Council.

Yes, regardless of whether people say this Council has been effective or worked properly it - and we - have certainly been better behaved these past 4 years.

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