11/05/2012

Plaid to lead Ceredigion Council in partnership with Independents


Ceredigion County Council this morning voted Plaid Cymru’s Ellen ap Gwynn (pictured) as Council Leader.

The 19 Plaid Cymru councillors elected on May 3rd have agreed to work with the main Independent group of 12 to form an administration. They have been joined by a breakaway group of two Independents, Llais Annibynnol, consisting of Dafydd Edwards (Llansantffraed) and Dai Mason (Trefeurig). Labour’s Hag Harris has also joined the coalition.

The opposition will be formed by the seven Lib Dems and one ungrouped Independent (Aled Davies, Aberystwyth Rheidol).

The coalition has been the subject of intense discussions for the last seven days in which everyone has been talking to everyone else, with no groups excluded, in an effort to come up with a workable arrangement for running the County.  Although no group succeeded in winning an overall majority at the election, most councillors recognise that much of the public wants to see change. 

The final arrangements essentially hinge on the mathematics resulting from the decision of Llais Annibynnol and Labour to break away from the Independent/Lib Dem group they had been a part of for the last few years together with the need for the ruling group to have a significant majority with which to form an administration. No-one would have predicted the coalition outcome that’s been arrived at but negotiations have been an exercise in the art of the possible.

Ellen ap Gwynn, councillor for Ceulanamaesmawr to the North of Aberystwyth, said in her press  statement:
"I’m grateful for the support received from my colleagues in the chamber today to be elected as Ceredigion County Council’s new leader – the first Plaid Cymru politician to do so. This moment also heralds a fresh start for Ceredigion with Plaid Cymru at the helm of a new coalition to run the county.

"I intend to be an inclusive leader, and we will work hard to ensure that Ceredigion people feel involved in Council decisions. We commit to holding full consultation with local residents on any new developments and initiatives so that their views and needs are taken into account in the decision-making process.

"I’m particularly pleased to have attracted the support of the group of Independent councillors on the Council, as well as that of the new political group ‘Llais Annibynnol / Independent Voice’, and Ceredigion’s only Labour councillor.

"We held discussions with all political parties and while I fully appreciate that those who decided not to work with us have the prerogative to do so, I intend to work across political divides to try and get consensus at the heart of the decision-making process in Ceredigion".

Arthur Dafis, chair of Plaid Cymru’s constituency committee in Ceredigion, added:
"Plaid Cymru campaigned to get a fresh start for Ceredigion in the recent local elections. We have now secured a change in the formation of the Council’s Cabinet with a Plaid Cymru leader in charge for the first time ever. This is a major development for Ceredigion and I congratulate Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn on securing majority support for her leadership in the Council chamber.

"Plaid Cymru wants to secure the best governance for Ceredigion and I want to see Ellen and her coalition working with people of all political persuasions to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of Ceredigion people”.

15 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Who joined Plaid in what order? The independents were in coalition with LibDems in the previous administration - and voted on block to close the daycenter in Aber. Have they now decided simply to jump sides and playon the winning team?

    What of this 'llais anibynol'? When did they join?

    And what of Mr Harris of Labour?

    I think it would be interesting to find out when each group joined plaid cymru.

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  2. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    I should add that it would be interesting to find out at which point did Plaid cymru have the majority - was it thanks to the large independent group, or was it thanks to labour and the new small group?

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  3. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Regardless, how are we now going to start undoing the anti-welsh bias within the council and evolving the running of this now former rotten borough into a Council run as much through the medium of Welsh as possible?

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  4. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Ceredigion Cabinet

    Plaid 3 members inc. leader
    Indipendant 3 members inc. deputy leader
    Labour 1 member
    Llais Annibynol 1 member

    Plaid does not have a majority within its own cabinet.5 members of the previous coalition now have their feet under the cabinet table.

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  5. AnonymousMay 11, 2012

    Now's the time to get a fully bilingual administration in place and learn from best practice in Gwynedd

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  6. First two Anonymous comments:
    The blog post says: "The final arrangements essentially hinge on the mathematics resulting from the decision of Llais Annibynnol and Labour to break away from the Independent/Lib Dem group they had been a part of for the last few years..." That's the order it came in and, if you think about it, that's the only order that makes sense.

    Anonymous 4:
    It has to be remembered that Plaid did not win an overall majority. They actually have one fewer councillors than previously, when they (quite unfairly) ended up with nothing at all. I'm not going to go back through all the twists and turns of the negotiations but, referring back to the post, "No-one would have predicted the coalition outcome that’s been arrived at but negotiations have been an exercise in the art of the possible". If Plaid had won an outright majority, there'd be no need to worry about all this. Unfortunately we didn't.

    Anonymouses 3 & 5 :
    I think 'anti-Welsh bias' is probably a bit strong, although I'd be very willing to listen to any specific examples (I did sort out one real example a while ago following a comment on this blog). However I'm looking forward to Ceredigion liaising closely with Cyngor Gwynedd regarding their good practices.

    By the way, all these 'Anonymouses' can get a bit farcical. Try giving a pseudonym if you're wobbly about telling us who you are.

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  7. AnonymousMay 12, 2012

    I am the anonymous that asked the first question. I'm very sceptical of independents (maybe as sceptical as you are of 'anonymous'!) however, there seems to have been a split of one former 'independent alliance' member, along with a newly elected independent councillor. These 2, combined with the well known Hag Harris have given PC the majority to run the council (or so it would seem). It therefore stands that the former independent alliance members (with Ray Quant as their captain) have decided to 'jump ship' en block to the winning side. How, oh how (or 'why oh why') has Ms Ap Gwyn given Ray Quant 3 cabinet seats when they have for the past 4 years seem to have orchestrated an 'anti plaid' feeling within the administration???

    It also seems to me that the former 'independent alliance' were hardly independent at all. Lots of talk of having their own 'group' agenda. Maybe a few of their members have started to realise this, hence the forming of this other so-called breakaway group?

    Let's hope that all concerened appreciate that when a 'majority' was formed with 22 members, 19 of those members were plaid, 2 were 'Independent Voice' group, and the other was Labour.

    The fact that Ray Quant and his band of merry men have joined (and please note that a majority was achieved prior to them joining the coalition) should never have altered the balance of power re cabinet seats.

    Very glad that Plaid now have Ceredigion, but rather concerned as to what the band of merry men who've divorced the LibDems and now jumped into bed with Plaid will do.

    Ymlaen Plaid Cymru, ac Ymlaen Ceredigion!

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  8. AnonymousMay 12, 2012

    Maybe i should rephrase to make my point better:

    If anyone thinks that Plaid are now in charge of the Ceredigion Council thanks to the alliance of the large independent group - they are mistaken.

    The majority that Plaid needed was (according to the equation given on Alun's blog above) already achieved thanks to Hag Harries and a new independent group of 2.

    This 'pole change' by the independent alliance group should be seen as nothing but a sulking group of players who are losing the game, swapping sides just before the final whistle in order to avoid being in 'opposition'.

    I can't see them supporting Plaid Cymru policy for the next 5 years in Ceredigion - can you? More schools closing, more day centres closing, in fact - expect them to challenge anything that forms a part of Ceredigion Plaid Cymru policies in the long run.

    I hope I am proven wrong, and that a some of the merry men see through the independent alliance's internal propoganda and jump across to Plaid, or at the very least, jump out of Sherwood forest.

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  9. Re the last two comments:
    These are fair points, and I would expect someone to make them. They were, of course, argued over tortuously in the past week both within the Plaid group of councillors and the wider Plaid membership, as represented by the Pwyllgor Etholaeth (Constituency Committee).

    I don't know if I should be saying this now, but the fact is that I, too, am sceptical about the Independents as a group, although I do have respect for a number of them as individuals. On the other hand, although Plaid could have decided to govern with a wafer-thin majority with the help of the breakaway councillors, it would have been extraordinarily difficult. In the end, rightly or wrongly, it was agreed to try a coalition that would give some leeway.

    To be fair to the Independents, they actually had by far the largest manifesto of any of the groups standing at the election - 4,700 words compared to Plaid's at 2,600 and the Lib Dems at 1,700 ("How can a group of 'independents' have a manifesto?", I hear you say. I know..I know...). They also, despite what many people think about them, were the only group of candidates to increase their councillors at this election (from 12 to 15). There is actually significant overlap in the manifestos and we'll be working on putting a programme together between us. If anyone wants to see the Independents' manifesto, drop me an e-mail on alunw@ceredigion.gov.uk . Plaid's is available by clicking on the link three stories down.

    Who knows, it could all go wrong. But I'm going into this with a positive attitude, wanting to do the best for the people of Ceredigion, which is the only way to do these things.

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  10. AnonymousMay 13, 2012

    Sorry Alun. This sounds like the old boys network still run Ceredigion. The politics of the lowest common denominator.

    There'll be tokenism for the language but no significant structual change to defend and mainstream the language as in Gwynedd. The landlord-property developer-house building cartel are still in power, so more unneeded houses in Ceredigion.

    Ceredigion will continue to be the destination of choice for retirees and the unemployed to
    'Sign their giro by sea' so that the house building and house renting class in the county are safe.

    This is just an administration of the common lowest denominator with a lot of gombeen councillors who have no over riding vision. The reason the Indy's manifesto is so long is because they have to give every singly councillor their piece of cake to keep them on board. It's a sign of lack of vision not strength.


    Cardio

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  11. AnonymousMay 13, 2012

    I like the 'old boys network' comment above! I think we'll maybe find that under their new and slightly less charismatic leadership this will become even more evident within the large independent group ( "We all work as a team, which means you do everything I say..." ).

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  12. BAFFLED OF ABERMay 14, 2012

    "The landlord-property developer-house building cartel are still in power,. . ." I can't think of who or what you're referring to. Obviously you know something that I, and perhaps others, dont know. Please explain otherwise we will remain baffled.

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  13. AnonymousMay 19, 2012

    Very disappointing to see Hag Harries get the education portfolio. It is patently obvious that Welsh-language education policy in Ceredigion is pathetic compared to that of Gwynedd . I phoned Felinfach education centre the other day , to be answered by an English-only answerphone message , which I was told was standard throughout the authority . The least siad about the language policy of a certain leisure centre , the better .
    The education portfolio was the one aspect of local government where I hoped we could start to turn back the tide of Anglicisation of Ceredigion .

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  14. This would be shocking if it were true. On reading the comment I immediately (1.10pm Saturday) phoned Felinfach Education Centre and heard a bilingual answerphone message, with the Welsh first.

    Bilingual messages are supposed to be standard throughout Ceredigion Council. If anyone has any genuine examples of this not being the case I would like to to hear about them.

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  15. AnonymousMay 19, 2012

    Ah well, it might be a one-off. Hag's influence might be delivering results already, and I wish him well !

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