Oriel Nwy - Aberystwyth's new art gallery

I'm going to do a bit of trumpet-blowing here. For many years some of us have been asking for permission for this inviting empty space on the main thoroughfare into Aberystwyth to be used by the strong group of local artists we have in Aberystwyth but we had always received a firm 'No' from the County Council who own the building. 

Empty shopfronts never look good and using this vacant space to showcase the work of local artists always seemed like an obvious win-win situation for everyone. The opening of this new Gallery, including work by Mary Lloyd-Jones, is directly the result of intervention since last year's election by Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn and the arts-friendly Plaid Cymru-led administration. 

It's certainly going to give a classier feel to the entrance into Aberystwyth and I'm sure  many people will take the time to pop in and view the work as they walk past on their way into town.


It's Mike Parker for Ceredigion

Mike Parker has been selected to represent Plaid Cymru at the next Westminster election in Ceredigion. The result was announced last night after the second of two crowded hustings meetings held in the constituency over the past eight days. 

Mike Parker is a self-employed writer and broadcaster. He moved from his native Kidderminster to Ceredigion in 2000, has lived in west Wales ever since and has learnt Welsh. He has written several travel books, and has presented series such as Coast to Coast and Great Welsh Roads on ITV Wales, and the 10-part series On The Map on Radio 4.

On winning the nomination, Mike said,
“The three main UK parties lack ambition for areas such as ours. Ceredigion has a strong tradition of entrepreneurship – self employment here is double the national average – as well as two universities and rich natural and cultural resources. I believe I can offer a genuine choice to people; the current Westminster government has achieved so little for Ceredigion, and I’m passionate and ambitious about the county’s future.

“I was born in Birmingham and grew up in Kidderminster; my life and writing proves that it’s possible to love both Wales and England with an equal passion, while believing that there’s a better way to organise the relationship between them than the creaking political structure that we have.

“I’m thrilled and very grateful to have been selected to try to win back the Ceredigion seat for Plaid, and look forward to working hard over the next two years to take our positive message to everyone in Ceredigion. I can’t wait.”

Mike is pictured here after the result was announced with Ceredigion's Assembly member Elin Jones who last night was also re-selected to contest the Ceredigion Welsh Assembly election in 2016

Elin said,
"Mike Parker is a man of great talent, honesty and integrity; it’s obvious he has a passion for our area and its people, and has great ideas for its future. I look forward immensely to working with him.”

The next Westminster election is expected to be held in May 2015. 


Ceredigion councillors to be cut by five

The new Welsh Local Government Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has agreed to proposals to cut the number of county councillors in Ceredigion by five, from 42 to 37. 

The proposals were contained in a report by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales published in May 2011 but were put on hold by the previous Minister before last year’s elections. The changes are slightly altered by the Commission from those reported by this blog in 2010.

The five seats that will now be lost at the next council elections in 2017 are as follows:

·    *  Lampeter will reduce from two councillors to one

·    *  Cardigan will reduce from three councillors to two

·   *  Llangeitho ward will be split between expanded Tregaron and   Llangybi wards

·   *  Capel Dewi ward will be split between expanded Llandysul and Troedyraur wards

·   *  The four wards of New Quay, Llandysiliogogo, Llanarth and Llanfihangel Ystrad will have their boundaries altered to become three.

This blog has previously identified that the southern half of Ceredigion is significantly over-represented compared to the North. Although the Minister probably doesn't read the blog,  this is the issue tackled by the proposals, the intention of which is to produce a more equal number of electors in each ward.

Other more minor changes are:
Padarn and  Faenor wards on the outskirts of Aberystwyth to combine into one ward with two councillors
Aberaeron ward to take in the Aberarth section of Llansantffraid
Llanfarian ward to take in a small part of Melindwr

By my calculations, if the new boundaries had been applied to the 2012 elections, Independents would have lost three councillors and Plaid Cymru two. However 2017 is a long way off...

The map shows the distribution of councillors following the 2011 election. Plaid are in green, Independents   in light blue and Lib Dems yellow. Image source: Wikipedia


Choosing Plaid Cymru's candidate for Ceredigion

Plaid Cymru will choose its new prospective Westminster candidate for Ceredigion at hustings meetings in June.

These are the three people seeking the nomination, in alphabetical order:

Owain Davies – a County Council worker who lives near New Quay. As Chair of the Ceredigion branch of Unison and an active member of Ceredigion Against the Cuts, he says he’s particularly concerned at the threat to universal health and education services from successive Westminster governments.

Doug Jones was born and brought up in Aberystwyth, and is Chair of the PCS union at the National Library. He was one of the founders of Ceredigion Against the Cuts and has been involved in campaigning for tax justice and against the Iraq war. An interview with him was published on the Planet website last year.

Mike Parker is an author of several books and a broadcaster. He was born in Birmingham, moved to Wales in 2000 and has learnt to speak Welsh. He believes that the three main Westminster parties deliver very little for places like Ceredigion. His website can be found here and his blog here.

Elin Jones, Plaid's AM for Ceredigion, says about the contest:
“I’m delighted that Plaid’s selection process, which was designed to be more open and inclusive than ever before, has produced such a strong shortlist of candidates. All three would be passionate and independent-minded advocates for our area, and would speak up for the many people who feel let down by the cuts of this present Westminster Government. We need someone in Westminster who will put Ceredigion first, and I look forward to working with whoever is selected.”

Rob Phillips, Chair of Plaid in Ceredigion, says:
 “A number of new members have joined Plaid Cymru recently in Ceredigion, especially people who have been active in opposing Westminster’s cuts which affect our local communities so deeply. We look forward to choosing a candidate who will offer a real, positive alternative to people in Ceredigion.”

The two hustings meetings will take place in Aberystwyth on June 6th and Synod Inn on the 14th. Barring an earlier collapse of the Westminster government, the next UK election will be held in May 2015.