Sunday, 25 May 2008

Iwan muddies the waters

Former Gwynedd councillor Dafydd Iwan is still smarting from his defeat in Bontnewydd by my Llais Gwynedd colleague Chris Hughes.
In last Thursday's Caernarfon Herald's letters page, Mr Iwan has sought to "remove any shadow of doubts which may be lingering in people's minds".
In his letter, headlined 'Iwan dispels the rumours', he said: "I categorically declare that
* I have never held any shares in any building company, local or otherwise
* I have never had any formal or financial involvement with any building company, local or otherwise
* I have never played any part in allocating council contracts
* I do not have a flat in Victoria Dock"
Well, that's all well and good but Mr Iwan has failed to answer the points raised not by Llais Gwynedd but by Martin Eaglestone, the prospective Labour candidate for Arfon.
In his blog,, on 21st April, Mr Eagletone wrote about Mr Iwan's alleged connections with a property investment company called Arianrhod. It makes interesting reading and is still available in the April archive of that website.
However, in attempting to pour scorn on these allegations, Mr Iwan has far from dispelled 'the rumours' - instead he has successfully managed to muddy the waters.
Let's look at the facts:
Mr Iwan claims no shareholding or formal/financial involvement in any building company but Arianrhod is a property investment company, which is a completely different animal. So it is time for Mr Iwan to come clean. I wonder if he can make the same categorical statement in relation to Arianrhod?
Whether or not Mr Iwan has ever played a part in allocating council contracts is a matter of public record via council minutes, so that can be checked by anyone who is interested.
I have no idea where the allegation arose that Mr Iwan had a flat in Victoria Dock but his denial is interesting. On this point, his letter states "I do not have..." but the other three statements all start "I have never...".
I wonder why he feels unable to say "I have never..." about having a flat in Victoria Dock. If I were a cynic, I might take this to imply that he did once have a flat there but does not still have it.
I am certain we have not heard all the facts and that it seems inconceivable that both Martin Eaglestone and Dafydd Iwan are being totally honest.
Is someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes? Are the waters being muddied intentionally? Perish the thought!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Schools vote set to be a lot closer next time

A close look at how individual members of the old Gwynedd Council voted on the schools issue last December makes interesting reading - especially when you compare it with the make-up of the new council.
Back in December 44 councillors voted in favour of the controversial proposals, 23 voted against, five abstained and another five were absent.
But in the May 1 election only 23 of those who voted in favour were re-elected. On the other hand, 16 of the 23 who voted against were also returned - alongside an extra 10 Llais Gwynedd councillors who are committed to opposing school closures. This makes a total of 26.
In addition, 4 of the 5 abstainers have been re-elected as have 2 of the absentees.
If these six still do not vote on the issue, the future of our rural schools seems to be in the hands of the 20 remaining new councillors, who are 7 independents, 2 Liberal Democrats, 8 Plaid Cymru, 2 no party and 1 vacancy. It all looks pretty even.
To be fair to Deiniolen's Cllr Len Jones, he defied his party last December and voted against the schools proposals. Let's just hope he continues to vote according to his conscience next time around.

Plaid goes it alone but has to listen

The new council has met for the first time and confirmed the Plaid Cymru group leader as Leader of the Council.
Apparently Plaid have not done any coalition deals, so are intent on serving as a minority administration. That's great, because it means they will have to take notice of the other parties, including Llais Gwynedd, or risk facing defeat in the council chamber.
Already, the new Council Leader is saying that they will have to look again at the whole contentious issue of schools. So, now they have received a 'bloody nose' at the ballot box they finally seem to be ready to listen to the will of the people.
Oh well, better late than never!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Acting for Deiniolen ward

During the run-up to the election, it became clear that local people have a number of concerns that they would like to be addressed.

I will be doing all I can to put pressure on the various powers-that-be to resolve the issues raised by my fellow Deiniolen ward residents. I will have no hesitation in furthering the cause of our ward through the many contacts I have built up over the years as well as seeking the support of our new Llais Gwynedd councillors.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Time to start work

It is high time that Cllr Len Jones got down to some hard work as our county councillor. After all, he does not seem to have been very busy since the last election, in 2004, when he was returned unopposed.

I made a Freedom of Information enquiry to Gwynedd Council, asking for the attendance records of councillors at Full Council meetings - as well as committees and sub-committees of which they were members. The information supplied makes interesting reading.

In addition to the Full Council, Cllr Len was a member of the Care Scrutiny and Charity committees - but his attendance record leaves something to be desired!

Between the 2004 and 2008 council elections, he attended 16 out of 22 Full Councils (72.7%), 18 out of 23 meetings (78.3%) of the Care Scrutiny Committee and a pathetic 5 [yes, just 5] of 16 meetings (31.3%) of the Charity committee.

Taken together, he attended only 39 out of 61 meetings, which is just 69.7%.

What's more, Gwynedd Council minutes show that of the 22 meetings Cllr Len missed, he only sent apologies for 7 of them, so for more than two-thirds of them he didn't turn up and didn't send his apologies for not being present. That is just not good enough!

We expect our county councillor to represent us properly and to turn up for meetings. And, if prevented from attending due to circumstances beyond his control, to send apologies for his unavoidable absence. It is only common courtesy after all.

Deiniolen in Focus

Congratulations are in order.

After 12 years of being Deiniolen ward's county councillor, Plaid Cymru's Len Jones has finally faced an election and finds himself voted in as a member of Gwynedd Council. Until this year, he had always been unopposed.

This year, he was challenged by two other candidates: Alan Pritchard for Labour and Ian Franks (me) for Llais Gwynedd.

Although I was defeated in this year's election, I will be keeping a watchful eye on the activities of Cllr Len - as well as taking a close look at the needs of Deiniolen ward and all of us who live here. And I fully intend to challenge Len again in the next council election in 2012.