Here’s the second election material post, courtesy once again of blog subscriber TW (if anyone in a ward other than St. Augustine’s would be willing me to forward the campaign literature from other wards I’d be delighted to provide a critique – as ever, it’s penartharbyd[a]gmail.com).
This time it’s Penarth Labour Local. Wait a minute, or is it Penarth Labour? Or St Augustine’s Labour? Or just plain old Labour/Llafur? Or perhaps the Vale of Glamorgan Labour Party? Or the Labour Party in the Vale? Or the Labour Party? I’m confused within seconds because believe it or not, all seven of these names are emblazoned on the literature. And if the candidates aren’t sure who they’re standing for, how is the electorate supposed to know?
But at least if we don’t know which party we’re being asked to cast a vote for, we certainly know what Gwyn Roberts and Lis Burnett are intending to introduce should they receive the nod from the great unwashed. There are 12 tantalising pledges on the leaflet – let’s hope that’s not all they’re intending to do within this 5-year term or there’s going to be a lot of time for relaxation amongst the Labour Members. We’ll be seeing traffic wardens roaming the streets of Penarth, war on potholes (I’m sensing a theme in electoral messaging), investment in youth services, a youth mayor and youth cabinet, delivery of Penarth Pier project (whatever that is – I’m much more interested in delivery of the Penarth Pavilion project), St. Paul’s community centre, more dog wardens, and a learning community at St. Cyres. Phew! There’s also the intriguing “Introduce dedicated Grime Fighters for Penarth”. Now I can’t begin to guess what a Grime Fighter is, but if Penarth is going to get some, I’m jolly glad we’re getting the dedicated variety – I wouldn’t want us getting sub-standard non-commital Grime Fighters. There’s a bung to the blue rinse brigade, with reduced council tax for the over-70s, and although there’s no detail on which services will be cut to pay for this, there’s a clue in the pledge that indicates that the social services budget will be brought ‘under control’ (read ‘cut’). I’d wager that the over-70s are some of the heavier users of the social services, so is this a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other? Or worse still, taking from the most needy in the Vale?
Finally, Gwyn and Lis will fight against car parking charges for the town centre. To me it makes perfect sense for the Vale to be raising revenue from people who can afford to drive into town. We know that 21.5% of Vale households have no access to a car or van, and we also know that poor households are disproportionately represented within this sector. Why poorer people should be effectively subsidising richer peoples’ use of cars is beyond me – this seems to be a fabulous example of a regressive ‘tax’ regime. It seems that Gwyn and Lis are siding with the people who are best able to kick up a stink about things that disadvantage them – the thrusting middle class – rather than those who are less able to voice their concerns – older people or people just about scraping a living who haven’t got the time or inclination to trouble politicians.
Back to the content of the leaflet. I’m actually rather pleased to see such a focus on the Local Development Plan. This is a document that will affect us all, but which, regrettably, few of us have the time or expertise to make cogent comments on. However, TW tells me that the leaflet fell through the door just 5 days before the closing date for comments. I’m all for raising awareness, but frankly this seems like a pointless bit of window-dressing. Perhaps the various Labour parties are in financial dire straits and this was the best way to get some election literature out while pretending to have a bit of content. Next time, please give us enough time to comment on a consultation to make it meaningful. Myself, I’m going to be perusing the responses to the LDP to see whether or not Gwyn and Lis responded. After all, with a plan of such ‘lunacy’ likely to cause ‘gridlock’ for Penarth, they will undoubtedly have given very high priority to making their views known to the Council. One more note for Gwyn and Lis, when you’re writing your headlines, make them read logically. In this case, ‘Development Plan… Traffic Chaos for Penarth’ would have been more appropriate, and would have meant I’d have had to search elsewhere for an appropriate title to this post. And if you’re about to complain that there wasn’t enough room, look up Scribus, a free, open-source graphic design package that will enable you to make your literature much more attractive at the same time as packing more information in. Sounds like a win-win to me.
So for content – well, there’s not an awful lot of it, but the information is relevant. Aside from tardy information about the LDP, it tells us the priorities of the candidates in the ward, so this is a mini-prospectus that means we know what we’re voting for in May. There’s no mention of the Welsh language other than the token ‘Llafur’. Meanwhile, the layout is reasonably good for a document that appears to have been produced on a ZX 81.
Layout 3/10, Content 5/10.