Showing posts from November, 2015

Planning free-for-all in Carmarthenshire?

This column was published in the Llanelli Herald on November 20th 2015 Planning sagas are nothing new in Carmarthenshire, but the spate of bizarre cases recently will only add grist to the mill of those who want the Council abolished and wound up into a bigger regional body. Even though he seems unable to see what the fuss is about, the fact that Plaid’s Emlyn Dole, the Leader of the Carmarthenshire, broke his own Council’s planning rules proves the fact there’s a problem at County Hall. Emlyn Dole knocked down a very old barn without planning permission. To be fair to them the planning officers recommended that he be forced to pull down the brand new building he and his wife had built in place of the charming barn. He ignored them and decided to take his chance with the planning committee. Now of course, members of the planning committee act independently - party politics isn’t meant to come into play, they are “strictly non-political” according to the Chair of the Planning Commi

Out, or In?

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on November 13th 2015 How can a referendum on Britain staying in European Union be won?  The opinion polls look evenly split, and if David Cameron gets his way with EU leaders we could be facing a vote whether to stay in or pull our as soon as next June – a month after the Assembly elections. The campaign to pull Britain out of Europe is out in front. It has plenty of money behind it and a highly motivated band of followers who are obsessed about withdrawal. The campaign to keep Britain in is a mess. It doesn’t have a clear message to say why we should stay in, and they’ve opted for the former Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, Stuart Rose, as their leader. I’m nervous about making the case for staying all about the interests of business and the economy. I’m instinctively in favour of staying in Europe. It is not perfect, but we are better off overall within an alliance of countries to be able to tackle

The enemies list

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on November 6th 2015 Nobody likes strikes. For people who use public services in particular they can be a pain. I know on the rare occasions my children’s teachers have been on strike my wife and I have cursed as we’ve struggled to re-jig our childcare arrangements. But that’s not really the point, is it. The right to take strike action has been a hard fought battle over generations. From the Chartists, to the Llanelli railway strikers of 1911, working men and women have made huge sacrifices to win protections at work. And it’s not just a matter of history or sentiment; safeguards for people in their workplace form a key protection against harm and exploitation in the modern economy. The best employers recognise that, the worst don’t – and that’s why we have laws. Now the Conservatives want to weaken those protections. David Cameron has introduced a new Trade Union Bill into Parliament that can only be described as ex

Politics doesn’t make any difference?

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on October 30 2015 What’s the difference between Labour and the Tories, Neil Kinnock was once asked. “We are the builders, they are the destroyers”, he replied; “”we build, they destroy”. That quote came to mind as I was showing the Welsh Public Services Minister, Leighton Andrews, around Station Road in Llanelli this week. We visited a number of projects that have benefited from reforms brought in by Welsh Labour, but now face decimation from the cuts being enthusiastically pursued by the Tories in Westminster. Llanelli Women’s Aid were full of praise for the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act that the Assembly passed this year. I worked closely with Leighton Andrews on the 2011 referendum to give the Assembly the power to make laws for Wales, and I shared his pride that amongst the first laws passed was this law to help tackle domestic violence. Llanelli Women’s Aid are rightly held up as pioneers in thei

Hitting striving Llanelli families

This column was published in the Llanelli Herald on 23 October 2015 I remember the tension in the house when money was tight. I still can still remember the stress in my parents’ voices as they poured over the family budget trying to stretch their pay. Both worked hard, my father often putting in double shifts at Abernant colliery to make ends meet; My mother juggling three kids with hairdressing. It was tough, and the Family Allowance made all the difference. It was to help families like mine that the Labour Government came up with the Minimum Wage and the Working Families Tax credit. The idea of making work pay was central to Labour’s agenda in power. I immediately identified with the mother on BBC’s Question Time who challenged the Tory Cabinet Minister for cutting Working Families Tax credits when David Cameron promised in the election he wouldn’t.   Michelle Dorrell's voice was crackling, and her eyes filled with tears as she said “I voted Con