Saturday, July 28, 2007

Skewen councillors fight to save medical facility

Coedffranc Community Council is exercised (quite rightly, in our opinion) about the potential, and needless, loss of Cefn Parc clinic.

It has until only recently been used as a maternity clinic. It has outlived its usefulness as such, but would seem to be ideal for provision of additional dental facilities, which the community badly needs.

From a Neath Guardian article: "The land that the clinic is built on was originally sold for a nominal fee to the Parish council to provide maternity facilities for the Coedffranc area in 1938.

"Until recently the site has served this purpose and documents dating back to 1938 state the site should not be used for other purposes without consent in writing from the Vendors.

"The spokeswoman said solicitors representing Bro Morgannwg Trust have told them they do not have a copy of the original conveyance."

This has not prevented the Trust from selling the building. The community council attempted to purchase it, but was outbid. Bro Morgannwg has refused to reveal the name of the purchaser. However, the Trust cannot finalise the sale because of the restrictive covenant, of which community councillors do have a copy.

It is the firm view of the Community Council that the sale should not have started until the council was consulted over any possihle change of use.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Coedffranc North, and a member of the community council, Keith Davies, said that the way in which the trust has handled this "makes them prime candidates for a review by the Director General of the Audit Commission".

Currently, the community council has approached the Welsh Assembly Government so that this contretemps between two publicly funded bodies can be resolved by them, rather than incurring high legal costs.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Resolven and Cwmgwrach flood defences

Dave Howerski tells us that the work at Cwmgwrach was completed in time to save the village from damage after the wettest June & July in British meteorological history.

Work at Resolven has not been so fortunate. It seems that every time the contractors get started, another deluge washes their work away. We fear that it is a race to complete the defences there in the next weather window before there is a "Gloucestershire" event in the Neath valley.

Friday, July 20, 2007

By-election Results

Click the button on the right for links to the details of the parliamentary by-elections. Go to Peter Black's blog spot comments for those of Swansea Llansamlet council election.

In all three, the Liberal Democrat vote rose and the Conservatives made no impact. Labour were smart to hold the Westminster by-elections during the Gordon Brown "honeymoon" period, or the results might have been worse for them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Save Bryncoch Farm

It is not only a valuable part of a green wedge, but it is also of historical interest. Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats support the campaign to save Bryncoch Farm.

John Warman, Liberal Democrat councillor for Cimla, is so concerned about the loss of green wedges in the county borough that he has resigned from the planning committee. He feels that his freedom to campaign has been held back by legal restrictions while he has been on the committee.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Richie: congratulations (I think!)

Dave Howerski being unable to continue because of demands on his resources (we hope the parachute jump in Sweden went well, Dave), Richie has agreed to resume secretarial duties, with the unanimous approval of tonight's party meeting.

- The Chairman

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Still no Ffynnon Oer money for communities

Readers of Paul Lewis's article in the Evening Post might be forgiven for believing that new money has suddenly become available for "greening" our communities' schools.

"Council officers are now thrashing out a deal to decide how the cash resulting from the 16-turbine npower development will be spent locally," he writes, no doubt from a press brief prepared by the County Borough Council.

In fact, £32,000 has been available since May 2006. Investigations by Richie Northcote in Resolven, as to what had happened to the money, started soon after. (Resolven is just one of the communities which would benefit - the others are Cymmer, Glyncorrwg and Pelenna.)

It turns out that the money is still sitting in nPower's coffers. It has doubled as from May this year, and will be added to at the rate of £32,000 on each anniversary of the establishment of the Ffynnon Oer wind-farm for the life of the installation.

All that was needed to access the money was for Neath Port Talbot CBC to set up a suitable financial vehicle, such as a trust. Planning for this could have started at the time planning permission for the wind farm was granted. Schools and other community facilities could have benefited from Day One.

Instead, on the council's own admission, they are still discussing the form of the trust.

We applaud the ideas outlined in the article, and welcome the call for further suggestions from the communities, but condemn the fifteen month wait, and the continuing delay.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Liberal Democrats to cut 4p off Income Tax!

Radical tax plans that will take the basic rate of income tax to its lowest level since 1916 were unveiled today by the Liberal Democrats.

The move to cut the basic rate by four pence in the pound will reduce the basic rate of income tax to 16p, benefiting millions of people on low and middle incomes.

The plans are a development of those approved by the party conference last year and form part of the party's proposals to lift the tax burden on low and middle income earners whilst making the rich and people with environmentally damaging lifestyles pay a fairer share.

The revised proposals are tax neutral and have been independently evaluated by the IFS.

The proposals launched in the document Reducing the Burden: Policies for tax reform include:

* Reaffirming the commitment to abolishing Council Tax, replacing it with a tax based on ability to pay

* Removing tax loop-holes exploited by the super-rich

* Radically simplifying the tax code, removing over 500 pages of unnecessary regulations

* Reforming stamp duty to reduce the amount of tax paid on properties worth less than £500,000

* Reforming Inheritance Tax, with the aim of raising the starting threshold to £500,000

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Ming Campbell said "Our new proposals will put fairness at the heart of the tax system. Low and middle income earners in this country shoulder too heavy a tax burden. By cutting the basic rate of national income tax by four pence in the pound the Liberal Democrats are proposing the lowest basic rate since 1916. By reforming stamp duty and inheritance tax we will ensure that people who were not originally intended to pay these taxes no longer do so. The unacceptable reality is that in Britain today the poorest pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than the super-rich. Under our proposals tax cuts for the majority will be paid for by the wealthy minority, as well as those with environmentally damaging lifestyles. Only the Liberal Democrats have produced a costed plan to create a tax system that is fair, simple and green. I challenge Gordon Brown and David Cameron to back up their rhetoric by endorsing our plans."

Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable MP said "This paper takes forward, in a more radical form, the proposals we passed at our conference last year. Those on low and middle incomes will benefit from a cut in the basic national rate, and from the scrapping of council tax. The national tax cuts will be paid for by abolishing the capital gains tax break, which allows the very rich to pay a lower tax rate than the person who cleans their office, as well as only providing tax relief for pensions at the standard rate; and raising taxes on polluters. Taken in conjunction with the abolition of council tax, these policies benefit the vast majority of families."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sedgefield - The One to Watch

Liberal England has a very interesting and plausible analysis on the current by-election fever sweeping through Ealing and Sedgefield. Whilst Labour and the Tories are fighting each other intensely in Ealing Southall over which councillor will defect, to whom, next. The Liberal Democrats are catching up fast in Sedgefield by campaigning on the local issues that matter to local people. Labour and the Tories can continue to play their powerbroking nonsense games, but what will really be on the minds of the electorate, on thursday, is who has been campaigning on the issues that matter.

Below is an extract from his blog article:

As I said on 18 Doughty Street the other night (hem, hem), when MPs resign to take highly paid jobs elsewhere, their party often does very badly in the ensuing by-election.

I also said that Tony Blair sometimes treated his constituency as no more than a film set - rushing up to Trimdon to announce he was going to stand down as prime minister and then resigning as its MP as soon as he had.

So maybe we should be watching the result in Sedgefield more closely. Up till now, this contest has been rather overshadowed by the defections and similar malarkey in Ealing Southall.

Certainly, Paul Routledge thinks so. He writes in today's Mirror:

The Tories, a poor second in 2005, are nowhere. But the Liberal Democrats are closing the gap rapidly on Labour.

- Richie Northcote

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ealing Southall By-Election Watch

This is how the local media in Ealing Southall are reporting the by-election campaign. With the Tories out of the running it can mean only one thing.....couldn't it? - A Lib Dem victory? Maybe.

BUT, i'm not going to count any chickens yet, there's a week to go and things might change. Its going to be an interesting week ahead, on the same day (19th July) there is also a further parliamentary by-election in Sedgefield and a local by-election in the Llansamlet Ward of Swansea.

Good Luck Ealing, Sedgefield and Swansea Liberal Democrats from your Aberavon and Neath colleagues!

- Richie Northcote

Ming Campbell - "Rattling the Cage of British Politics"

Ming Campbell has promised that the Liberal Democrats would be “rattling the cage of British politics and challenging the cosy consensus” between Labour and the Conservatives, exposing the government on issues such as BAE, freedom of information and the erosion of civil liberties.

He said the party will “campaign constantly on behalf of all those betrayed by this government over the past decade – those without proper housing or healthcare.”

You can listen to Ming’s speech on YouTube (part 1 here, part 2 here).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Traffic Management Needed in Aberavon

I feel that I must comment on the, ever worsening, traffic situation created by the installation of traffic lights where Beach Hill used to be. Instead of a hill, we've now got a cross roads with a three way set of traffic lights. Further on roughly 200 metres is another set of traffic lights, at the cross roads of Hospital Rd/ Newbridge Road & Victoria road. Recently, these traffic lights have also become a three way set of lights.

Prior to Beach hill being taken down, traffic could move smoothly between Yscuthan Road and Victoria road via beach hill, there is now traffic backing up along both Yscuthan Road and Victoria Road as a result.

A simple solution would be to co-ordinate these lights. The lights at the Yscuthan road could be green when the lights at Victoria Road go green for traffic to go to the beach, likewise coming back from the beach.

- Jean Bellingham (Local Resident)


The Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats are in the process of lobbying Neath Port Talbot Council in a bid to co-ordinate these lights to ease congestion along the affected routes.

How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

40%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Well apparently, I am only 40% Nerd!

- Richie Northcote

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Neuro-surgery and nurses

We now know that there will be a Labour-Plaid coalition*. However, even if this agreement had not been reached, there are already two
good reasons for the electorate not to have given Labour an overall majority.

The Assembly government agreed to pay the nurses pay award in full, without staging, as has been done in Scotland. Edwina Hart said that this was a principled decision, and drew attention to her trade union roots. Yet, as pronouncements by Rhodri Morgan showed, there is little doubt that Wales would have followed the English example if Labour had been able to govern alone.

Neuro-surgery in Swansea has been saved. (And to those consultants who claim that Wales cannot afford more than one neuro-surgery unit, may I suggest that the Cardiff one be shut down? Cardiff and Newport can easily be served by Bristol.)

- Frank Little

*Plaid's special conference agreed to share power by 225 votes to 18, or 92%.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Roger Williams new spokesman for Wales

It's good to see a Welshman in this post. The Conservatives are sticking with their English MP - obviously their Welshman does not fit the Cameron pattern for the pastel blue-greens.

Congratulations to Lembit Öpik on his new position, too. Further details and the views of Mike German are here.