Friday, 25 September 2009

Call for kerbside glass collections

A call has been made for Carmarthenshire County Council to introduce kerbside collections of glass for recycling. Cllr Alan Speake, one of Plaid’s representatives in Carmarthen, said, “The council is doing a lot to recycle from the kerbside, but glass is currently excluded. The council blame health and safety considerations, but other councils can and do collect glass bottles and jars etc.

“Although the council is willing to introduce more glass collection sites when sites can be found, there are some people who find it difficult to get their glass to collection sites, particularly elderly people and those without transport. The council is quite rightly keen to increase the level of recycling, but I believe that they are missing a trick by not doing more to help people recycle glass. This would make life much easier for the county’s elderly and disabled residents.”

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Welcome for school decision

The decision by Carmarthenshire Council not to close Ysgol Caeo has been welcomed by the local community. Governors, parents and staff are all delighted at the decision after a lengthy period of uncertainty. The county councillor for the ward, Plaid’s Cllr Eirwyn Williams, said, “I congratulate the Council’s executive board for realising at last the sense of what I have been saying for many years, namely that it is wrong to close small schools before building the new area schools to replace them.

“It is completely unacceptable to disperse children to a number of other schools, rather than giving them the chance to grow up together as members of the same community. I hope that the authority will now set about providing a new area school and that in the meantime the education department will give the school all necessary assistance to continue to provide a high quality education to the children.”

Cllr Williams also noted that the decision was in line with what Plaid has been calling for for months, saying “We have consistently argued for a moratorium on the closure of small schools, and on this occasion, the Executive Board have taken the right decision.”

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Shock over scale of council chiefs' salaries

Plaid’s leaders in Carmarthenshire have expressed their shock and surprise at the level of pay increases which have occurred at the council. It was reported in newspapers reports last week that the Chief Executive’s salary has increased by £26,000 over the past three years. The reports also stated that over a two year period, the number of staff in the £80,000 plus pay bracket has increased from 13 to 21.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Plaid’s leader, said, “Of course it is true that we need to have good people running our services, and Carmarthenshire is fortunate with many of the officers employed. But I really do question whether pay levels need to be as high as they seem to have become in recent years. There has been a great deal of attention paid in recent months to the pay packages of our elected AMs and MPs, but there are an increasing number of chief officers in local government who are paid at a much more generous level.

“At a time when most of the council’s employees are being offered a much more modest 0.5% increase in salaries, I for one cannot justify a much more generous level of increases being awarded to top staff. I am aware that the reports may not have been entirely accurate, and am therefore writing to the Council’s leader, Meryl Gravell, asking for full details of the rises over the past three years. It is unacceptable that the first most councillor know about this is when they read about it in the newspapers.

Cllr Dyfrig Thomas, Plaid’s deputy leader, added, “We need to introduce more transparency over pay, particularly at the senior levels. These pay levels are not being set by the council as a whole, but by the Executive Board meeting in secret. The first most councillors know about the pay levels of the top staff is when we read about it in the newspapers. That cannot be right, and we are asking for the establishment of a pay panel representing all groups on the council to review the pay packages of the council’s most senior officers.”

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

More spending on propaganda

Plaid Cymru in Carmarthenshire have expressed concern over the possibility that the county council is about to spend thousands of pounds on more self-publicity after agreeing a contract with a television company to launch a tv channel on the internet.

Peter Hughes Griffiths, the Plaid group leader on the council, said, “We have very little information on this scheme since it was discussed in closed session by the Executive Board. We know more about it from reading the minutes of the Local Service Partnership than we do from the county council itself!

According to the Partnership minutes for April, which are open to all on the internet, the Partnership has set aside £10,000 for the project on condition that the other partners also contribute, but there is no mention of the total cost. But I do know that Kent council launched a similar scheme – and the cost to them was £600,000!

“We know already that the county council spends more on self-publicity than other councils. In a recession, with the council’s leaders complaining incessantly about the lack of money from the government, therre is no excuse for increasing expenditure in this area.”

Council ignores own policy

Llwynhendy councillor, Meilyr Hughes, has called for the replacement of badly faded road signs in parts of his ward. Cllr Hughes said this week, "I have called for the replacement of street signs at Llandafen Road, Pemberton Road, Llwynhendy Road, and Heol y Gelli, where the signs have been affected by traffic pollution. As a result of the recent developments in the area, Heol y Gelli is now on the B4297, whilst the other three are all part of the 'old' A484, which means that the council will need to give careful consideration to the precise siting of the new signs".

Cllr Hughes has also pointed out that this gives the council an opportunity to implement a policy which it has apparently been ignoring to date. "The council's official policy is to use only the Welsh name where that name has been in existence for some time," said Cllr Hughes. "Previously, the council has put up signs referring to both Heol y Gelli and Gelli Road, but under its own policy, only Heol y Gelli should be included."