Tag Archives: councillors

Predictions for 3 May 2012

Well, there are just two weeks to go until the election, so it’s about time for my predictions for who’ll be popping the champagne corks on the morning of 4 May.

I’m basing my predictions on a combination of recent polling at the UK level and the most recent poll that includes Plaid Cymru as a separate entity. I’m looking at what happened in Penarth last time as compared to the 2004 results – in particular, what effect the poll ratings at that time might have had on the results, and forecasting a similar equivalent effect this time.

So at the UK level, in 2004, the average of three polls gave Conservatives 32%, Labour 34.3%, Lib Dem 20.3% and Other 13.3% – a Labour lead of 2.3%. In 2008, the average of four polls put the Conservatives on 40%, Labour 30%, Lib Dem 20% and Other 11% – a 10% lead for the Conservatives.

For 2012, the BBC’s poll of polls indicates that as of 10 April, the Labour lead over the Conservatives in the UK was 9% (42% to 33%). The Lib Dem share of the vote has shrunk to 8% in total. The most recent all-Wales poll indicates that Labour have 47%, Conservatives 20%, Plaid 16% and Lib Dems 7%.

So back to the results. The fascinating thing is that on first glance there’s no consistent pattern across the wards. A 10% Conservative lead over Labour before the 2008 elections translated to the following:

  • Cornerswell – Labour vote decreased by 3%, Conservative vote increased by 29%
  • Plymouth – Labour vote decreased by 15%, Conservative vote increased by 3%
  • St. Augustine’s – Labour vote increased by 2%, Conservative vote increased by 39%, Plaid vote decreased by 8%
  • Stanwell – Labour vote decreased by 1%, Conservative vote increased by 30%, Lib Dem vote decreased by 28%
  • Sully – Labour vote decreased by 31%, Conservative vote increased by 20%, Independent vote decreased by 31%, Plaid vote increased by 63% (from a very low base)

So with a Conservative opinion poll lead of 10%, the Labour vote held up in highly contested wards but collapsed in Sully and Plymouth (wards where Labour stands no chance even in a good year). Meanwhile, the Conservative vote barely increased in the shoe-in ward of Plymouth but increased by 29% or more in the competitive wards of Cornerswell, St. Augustine’s and Stanwell. Incidentally, this seems to be decent evidence in favour of adopting the alternative vote system for local elections (as they have in Scotland).

So what does that mean for our hopefuls on 3 May? Broadly, I’m expecting the reverse of last election, with a slightly increased Labour vote (considerably higher in Sully and Plymouth) and a substantial decline in the Conservative vote, with one exception in St. Augustine’s where Sophie Williams’ vote will  remain high enough to grab one of the two seats on offer. Plaid’s share of the vote will increase across most wards, but particularly where the historic vote has been low. It’s going to be a miserable night for the Liberal Democrat hopefuls; both of them will record fewer votes than the Green candidate.

  • Cornerswell will elect two Labour councillors, Rhiannon Birch and Peter King, despite whispers of an energetic Plaid campaign. Turfing out John Fraser and Dorothy Turner will be a very welcome result for the people of Cogan.
  • Plymouth will keep its two Conservative councillors forever. Councillors Maureen Kelly Owen and Clive Williams will retain their seats until they drop.
  • St. Augustine’s is the most interesting ward of the lot. It’s got a history of electing candidates from different parties, and that’s going to happen again in 2012. It’s going to be the first ward in living memory to have two women councillors as Councillor Sophie Williams is returned alongside Lis Burnett.
  • Stanwell will keep its current Labour Councillors Janice Birch and Mark Wilson. Presumably life will be interesting in the Birch household since Rhiannon lives at the same address as Mark Wilson.
  • Sully will also keep its incumbent councillors, Conservatives Anthony Ernest and Sarah Sharpe.

Penarth/Sully will end up with an even split of councillors, 5 apiece for the Conservatives and Labour, which brings us back to the same result as for 2004.  Regardless of what happens elsewhere (and seats will almost certainly change hands in Barry), this result alone means that the Conservative-run administration in the Vale will come to an end on 4 May. We’re looking at a coalition running the Vale of Glamorgan for the next five years.

It’s also the end for our Penarth wards which will dissolve in 2017 when the recommendations of the Local Government Boundary Commission come into effect. We’ll end up with the 4-member super-ward of Penarth South (Plymouth plus Stanwell) and the 5-member Penarth North (Cornerswell, Llandough and St. Augustine’s). Sully will remain stand-alone with two members.

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19 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Scores on the Doors

The time has come, ladies and gentlemen, to award marks out of ten for our current crop of councillors. They’re all bidding for your votes for re-election, so this post is particularly important. And once they’re in, they won’t be going anywhere for 5 years. I won’t be commenting on other candidates because there’s a consistent track record of performance that the incumbents have revealed over time that will help voters decide whether or not they deserve the blessing of re-election.

In the spirit of transparency and open-ness, I’m going to lay out in full my scoring criteria.

Initially I’ll award each councillor a score of 5/10. There you go, who said I’m not the generous type? I think it’s fair to give our councillors the benefit of the doubt, too, because most of them go into this politics lark with the genuine intention of making life better for the residents they serve. Perhaps some of them have been in the game too long or have lost track of those worthy aspirations they once had. But let’s save judgement for later.

Communication has always been important in democracy. It’s as true today as it was back then. The ability to get in touch with our elected representatives is important for the electorate – even if we don’t take our politicians up on the offer of making contact. That’s why I find it especially galling that Cllr. Clive Williams has no means of email contact. How does he think people communicate in this day and age? Carrier pigeon? Or is it some evil plot of the Vale of Glamorgan webmaster to discredit him by refusing him – and only him – a VoG email account? Compare his page with that of Cllr. Anthony Ernest who has not one but three twitter accounts for us to follow. Not that the communications officers at the council will be too pleased with him for having taken the ‘@ValeofGlamorgan‘ twitter account, but perhaps they should have been a bit quicker off the mark. And Cllr. Ernest is living proof that twitter is a valuable way of communicating with your constituents whether you’re 18 or 80.

So it’s minus one point for Cllr. Clive Williams who hasn’t moved on from the stone age. And it’s plus one mark for Cllr. Ernest and Cllr. Sophie Williams (who also has an active twitter account @CllrSJCWilliams). If any of our other esteemed representatives has an active twitter account, do let me know for that extra point (and signing up tomorrow doesn’t count!).

Well as far as I can tell, our good councillors haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the past while, so I’m afraid that’s it for the bonus points. It’s downhill from here on in. But who’s got furthest to fall?

I’ll subtract one point from any councillor who’s been eagerly pushing through a project to incinerate the black bags from everyone’s houses that will see us all paying increased council tax for the next 25 years, and who cut off any chance of escaping from the decision by signing us up to as much as £3,000,000 in expenses if we pull out from the agreement.

I’ll knock off a point from anyone who voted in favour of one of the most incomprehensible decisions in Vale history to change our recycling system from one that achieves the best environmental outcomes at least cost to one that is illegal under European environmental law and that will have to be reversed to our old system in a few months.

I’m definitely removing a point from those councillors who have blindly let officials pull the wool over their eyes – and opened the council up to a European legal challenge and massive fines – by consistently allowing unlawful pollution loadings for the undeserving residents of Cogan. But on this subject I’ll save my most severe opprobrium for the incumbent Cornerswell councillors. What an unconscionable dereliction of your democratic duty to defend your constituents. I suppose it’s difficult for someone living with the fresh Bristol Channel breeze on their face to empathise with people choking on car fumes. Shame on the pair of you – and the gall of seeking re-election! I hope the hundreds of people reading this blog include large numbers registered in Cornerswell ward. So it’s an additional minus point from these two.

For those of you struggling with your abacus, I’ve done the maths myself. Drumroll, please:

With a fabulous 4 points – Cllr. Sophie Williams (St. Augustine’s, Conservative)

A thrilling 3 points – Cllrs. Janice Birch (Stanwell, Labour) and Anthony Ernest (Sully, Conservative)

A tortuous 2 points – Cllrs. Paul Church (St. Augustine’s, Conservative), Maureen Kelly-Owen (Plymouth, Conservative), Sarah Sharpe (Sully, Conservative), Clive Williams (Plymouth, Conservative) and Mark Wilson (Stanwell, Labour)

An ‘elect at your peril’ 1 pointJohn Fraser (Cornerswell, Conservative) and Dorothy Turner (Cornerswell, Conservative)

5 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Penarth Town Council Shame

I have it on good information that a recent meeting of the Penarth Town Council saw councillors lining up to tear into some information that was being presented.

What nasty, radical threat to Penarth’s livelihood were our brave councillors defending so robustly?

It came under the banner of “Assessing the future of Penarth”, and the documents forming the basis of the presentations can be found here under the heading “Student Projects”. Yes, you heard correctly. The presentations were given by three Masters’ students under the tutelage of Dr Julie Gwilliam, a lecturer in Architectural Science at the Welsh School of Architecture. They had given of their time, firstly to spend months researching ways to improve Penarth for the future of its citizens and livelihoods, and then to visit the Town Council to present their findings.

I wasn’t at the meeting, so I can’t judge for myself the level of vitriol inflicted on these conscientious and enthusiastic students. But credible witness statements leave me in no doubt that the councillors were an embarrassment to Penarth. The minutes of the meeting, for example, note: “Councillor Sophie Williams questioned the car parking and the consultation processes undertaken”. I understand that Cllr Williams claimed that 20 parking spaces was much more than 20 when taking into account the turnover of parking during the day. Actually, Cllr Williams, 20 parking spaces equals 20 parking spaces.

The full glorious roll-call of councillors fighting tooth and nail for ‘no change in Penarth, thank you very much’, was JF Fraser, JR BakerPC Church, KM Land, and SJC Williams (all Conservative) and MEJ Birch (Labour).

Perhaps these jumped-up councillors have spent too long watching Westminster Committees chewing up News of the World media barons and fancied a pop at some witnesses of their own. Just for you, councillors, here’s my take on the situation.

These students did Penarth a wonderful service. They bestowed on us a wonderful gift that you shoved back in their faces. One of the students travelled from Spain just to be in Penarth Town Council on 3 November. The behaviour of our elected representatives was so reprehensible that at least two people I know of are considering standing against you in May’s elections as a result – so at least there’s one silver lining to this miserable story.  

I hope the students’ legacy can be fulfilled because their plans and research are breathtaking in their scope, imagination and aspirations for our town. And perhaps unlike some of the councillors, I’ve actually read them.

The title of this post would suggest that the Town Council was shamed. But any institution is comprised of the sum of the individuals within it. The shame is squarely on these six councillors. With elections in May, I’ll certainly be bearing this embarrassing episode in mind.

There’s a further aspect to this story that I can’t shake loose. It’s the fact that members of the public who attended weren’t allowed to have any say or make any comment. Some of them were shaking with indignation on behalf of the students but had no opportunity to make the case that some people in Penarth might actually be interested in moving our town to a more sustainable future. For anyone –  like myself – interested in democracy in Wales, this charade of accountability needs to be torn up. Councillors, over to you.

PS For those interested in what our hard-working Councillors get up to, you’ll be interested to note that the Planning and Transportation Committee that also met on 3 November was cancelled because not enough members turned up (actually, just four: JR Baker, MEJ Birch, JF Fraser and KM Land).

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Penarth Town Council