Thursday, January 12, 2012

Electoral Boundary Changes for Swansea

The proposals for changes to the parliamentary constituency changes in Wales were published yesterday.
Immediately jumping to pages 21 to 23 to see what happens in my back yard, it appears that one of the most controversial proposals is happening right here.

The proposals have been prompted by the governments decision to cut the number of MP's. To achieve this they have come up with a magical number of 76,461 - that being the ideal number of voters in each constituency. As such they have juggled the electoral divisions in constituencies to try and acheive a minimum of 72810 and maximum of 80473 voters in each constituency.

The big news for the Swansea area is that the proposals have decided to move the electoral divisions of Clydach, Mawr and half of Llansamlet in to Neath. Llansamlet is a special case as they have decided to split it in two - the area of Llansamlet south of the M4 stays in Swansea East, the community of Birchgrove to the north of the M4 gets shoved in Neath.
These communities are very much a part of Swansea and have nothing to do with the area of Neath. The areas are part of City and County of Swansea and shall continue to pay Swansea the Council Tax, have their rubbish/recycling collected by Swansea council and use the services provided by Swansea Council.

Yet they shall be represented by a local councillor in Swansea, a Neath MP at Westminster and a Swansea AM at Cardiff Bay.

On the west side of Swansea there are further changes. These involve merging Swansea West and Gower into one constituency, which seems sensible. However, in order to meet the magic figures they have had to exclude certain electoral divisions. Gorseinon , Llangyfelach, Penllegaer, Penyrheol and Pontardulais all move to the Llanelli constituency.

Once again this is a ridiculous proposal that places a community in a constituency that has nothing to do with the local authority to which it belongs.

When you consider the number of electorate that are excluded from their local authority area in Swansea West : Gorseinon (3,199), Llangyfelach (3,865), Penllergaer (2,248), Penyrheol (4,435) and Pontardulais (4,776) then it is only 18,523 voters. This is a small number over a large area, compared to denser areas such as London or Birmingham.

Similarly in Swansea East the number of electorate that are excluded from Swansea are : Clydach (5,850), Mawr (1,485) and Birchgrove (4,906), then the number is only 12,241.

The reorganisation of the boundaries was always going to be controversial, but they seem to be instigated by hitting the 72810 to 80473 target. The 7663 margin is very small and it would only take a year or so for these margins to be exceeded due to migration, house building and as more people reach voting age.

Perhaps the best way to address the problems is to allow a larger target number of electorate in Wales. If there was more flexibility on number of voters in a constituency then this would lead to less contentious proposals being made.

Reporting on this has so far been light, but once again it comes to the local rag to get things wrong.
South Wales Evening Post today publishes a story on it, but bungles it by saying Alltwen moves to the Neath constituency - it's already in it guys.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Riots

Let's get one thing correct about the riots and looting that occurred in London and other UK cities last night. It was not about some black guy being shot by a police officer last week.
The riots, looting, destruction of property and burning of buildings was purely about a minority of young people (and I include kids in that) seeing it as an opportunity to rob and destroy property.

The scenes were shocking and made me sick to be a citizen of Britain.

Honest and law abiding people were running from their homes in fear of their lives. Innocent bystanders were robbed and assaulted. People are now without their cars after it was torched. Business owners are waking up to their businesses cleaned out, or worse still burnt out.

The response from the Government has been shambolic. David Cameron only decided to return from holidays after 3 days of riots. Nick Clegg offered sympathy, but no substance. Worst of all was Theresa May this morning who simply cannot get a grip on the reality of the situation. She sounded like a broken record on Sky News and 5 Live this morning. Stating the obvious that what is happening is "sheer criminality ", yet she fails to reassure the public by at least considering help from the army or water cannon use. Her statement about 400 people being arrested and that some shall be in court today, does not act as a deterrent. Asking people to stop, does not work.  Saying these are unprecedented scenes are not the words the people living in fear want to hear. They want action. They want to be able to protect their families, home and property. They want the police to answer the phone and to come and help them.

What was evident last night was the fact that the police could not cope. Although there were thousands of them on the streets, there were not enough to deal with hundreds of rioters in concentrated areas around Greater London. Some police officers have worked for 37 hours continuously, there is no way they can continue to work. Untrained police officers not wearing riot uniforms were being used to control the rioters. They do not have enough officers and drafting in police from other areas of the UK will only lead to riots in those areas then under staffed. More buildings and vehicles will burn because the fire service will not attend fires until the area has been secured by the police. You have to fear for the next few nights if the UK Government do not take decisive action. I fear to say it, but it may not be long before someone is killed or burnt in their home.

I was made aware of 2 old news items last night whilst watching the riots. Hindsight is something that is often used as a form of reflection after you realise you made a huge mistake. Theresa May could regret these words from September last year : Theresa May : We can cut police budget without risking violent unrest (Guardian)

Finally, Nick Clegg may well have a smug look on his face this morning as he sits around the table at No 10 and whispers in Cameron's ear "I told you so." Nick Clegg warns of riots if Tories are elected (Sky News via YouTube)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Peter Black - Former AM ?

Could that be the headline after the Assembly election in May?

A YouGov poll has today been released that gives details for the forthcoming election. It's looking like a Labour majority, increasing their AM's by 9. Suprisingly the Conservatives remain the same. Plaid Cymru take a hit losing 4 AM's, but the hardest hit are the Lib Dem's leaving them with only 2 AM's just from the regional vote.
It goes on to show that the regional list for South Wales West, will lose it's Lib Dem AM, who at present is Peter Black.
The only downside is that Peter will now lose his 'two-jobs' monicker, but I'll be happy to title him 'Former AM' instead.

YouGov poll released today (copied from Britain Votes) :
Labour 32 constituencies + 3 regionals = 35 AM's (+9) 
Conservatives 3 constituencies + 9 regionals = 12 AM's (unchanged)
Plaid Cymru 5 constituencies + 6 regionals = 11 AM's (-4)
Liberal Democrats 0 constituencies + 2 regionals = 2 AM's (-4)
Labour overall majority of 10

On further analysis of the survey spreadhseet, it looks even more worrying for the Lib Dem's.
Only 75% of traditional Lib Dem voters would again vote for them in the regional vote. Their vote would instead be transferred to Conservative (14%), Labour (5%), UKIP (5%), Plaid Cymru (1%).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finally we beat Cardiff at Something

Mr Holley, you must be so proud. Finally you have achieved what you have always set out to do whilst running the local Government of Swansea. After years of whingeing about how our neighbours down the M4 get more money, more investment and more opportunities than our city, you can now claim that Swansea beats Cardiff.

What for? Violent crimes in the city. Wind Street comes 3rd out of all England and Wales, whereas Mill Lane in Cardiff can only manage 7th.

Well done Chris. Let's see if you can get us to the top spot next year.

(Chart from Daily Mail)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Planning Committee's Criticised by Wales Audit Office

The Wales Audit Office has just published its annual improvement report on Swansea Council.

It's a bit of a mixed bag of results for the council. They praise the council for significant improvements to Child & Family Services, but they also say that there are shortcomings that need to be addressed in areas such as governance, business planning and risk management.

One criticism the Wales Audit Office does highlight is the number of planning committee's. Back in June I pointed out the costs of the 4 committee's (up from 2 committee's the previous year), which pays each of the 4 chair's an allowance of £9708. The Wales Audit Office criticises the number of planning committee's and states that it "does not represent an efficient and proper use of resources". The council has been asked to produce an action plan to address their concerns.

At the time the planning committee's were expanded from 2 to 4 there were outcries from opposition councillors that it was not needed. These comments were disregarded as it was felt the planning process had to be improved. However, it is significant that the 4 chairs of the planning committee's are all members of the Swansea Administration. Plus the extra £9708 goes some way to keeping the mix of Lib-Dem, Independent and Plaid councillors happy and keeping the coalition local government in a slim majority.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Plee for Help

Can we all please help Swansea Council, by giving suggestions on how they can save £10 million this year.

My suggestion is to stop paying thousands of pounds to all the consultants and advisors that are supposed to come up with these ideas in the first place.

But I supposed we should be grateful that they are actually asking us our opinion, rather than deciding to shut school's, hospital's and care homes, turn off street lights and stop collecting our rubbish every week without getting our views first.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I would just like to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Thank you for reading over the last year and for any comments you may have posted.

I shall be back next year with one of my new year resolutions to try and post more often.

Nadolig Llawen!