Facebook is replete with accounts of the Sign Wars in Pembroke Dock, so, on my way home from doing a bit of gardening at Tessa’s place near Lamphey, I decided to take a run around the town to see what all the excitement was about.
During the 2010 General Election campaign, I was driving along with my six-year-old grandson when he asked about the posters by the side of the road.
I explained what they were and told him that there was a theory that the person with the largest number was likely to be winner.
After a while he broke his silence: “Granddad,” he said, “I think Guy Thomas will beat that Frank Mason”.
All I can say is that, if “signs means votes”, Brian Hall is a shoo-in.
They are everywhere – in pubs, shops and upstairs windows; on walls and fences and anywhere else where they might be seen by passing voters.
As you might expect, we conduct ourselves with much greater decorum here in Milford Haven – Pembrokeshire’s largest town.
One of my supporters did ask for a poster, but, as he lives some distance from any main thoroughfare, I can only assume it is to remind himself to vote for me on May 4.
That’s not to say everything here in the metropolis is sweetness and light.
Earlier this week, there was a bit of a spat between deputy mayor Colin Sharp and Grumpette over Cllr Sharp’s “truly independent” status.
Her indoors had noticed that, on his town council register of interests, Cllr Sharp had listed membership of the Labour party and when she bumped into him at last Monday’s town council meeting she questioned whether there was an inconsistency between membership of a political party and true independence.
Cllr Sharp decided to report this robust private exchange on his Facebook page and when the flak started to fly he accused Grumpette of bullying him.
Others took up the cudgels and things got a bit heated when he asserted that he had never said he was “independent”.
The evidence on my website seems to refute that claim.
Having had that rug pulled from under his feet he then resorted to cheap insults by claiming “The Stodards (sic) are right wing”, though, as anyone who has followed our careers, both at the Mercury and as councillors, will know, we have unswervingly defended the interests of the ordinary man in the street against the authoritarian tendencies of the IPPG.
What I am told is that the Milford Haven Labour party wanted Cllr Sharp to stand as its official party candidate in Milford North, but that he preferred to stand as an independent because he thought it would increase his chances of winning.
The electoral arithmetic is simplicity itself.
Labour supporters will not vote for his Tory opponent Stan Hudson, so, with them in the bag, standing as an independent allows him to dangle his hook in the politically neutral pond as well.
Not that I have too much sympathy for Cllr Hudson because this is exactly the same tactic as that employed by the Tories over the past several years and for which they have been repeatedly criticised in this column (Party games).
But enough of Milford North – I have an election to fight in Hakin where I face four challengers: Jon Thrower Labour; town councillor William Elliott “truly” independent; David Warrell independent and Rhys Williams (who stood against me in 2012 as a Tory) also independent.
Interestingly, I am told that Mayor Elliott’s first idea was to stand for Labour in Milford North but he abandoned that plan when Deputy Mayor Colin Sharp decided to fight the seat.
As I pointed out previously, there do seem to be certain similarities in their campaign material which conspiracy theorists might see as evidence for the existence of a concert party:
That said, it is rather strange that a Labour supporter has chosen to oppose an official party candidate.
While I am standing on my record, those whose election materials I’ve seen are rather keen on this “time for change” stuff and, although it isn’t my usual practice to comment on my opponents, as I’m the one being lined up to be changed, I feel free to make an exception in this case.
Naturally, they all declare their undying loyalty to the people of Hakin etc etc.
However, as they say: the proof of the pudding is in the eating; talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words; and you should never judge an apple by its looks.
Now, for the past two-and-a bit-years, Grumpette, myself and a small band of dedicated local residents have been fighting to save the Memorial Hall and community centre on Hubberston Green from closure.
Nobody in Hakin/Hubberston can be unaware of this campaign because on three occasions every house in the area has been leafleted.
Indeed, those of us involved in distributing the leaflets are on first-name terms with some of the local dogs.
There have been three public meetings – following the first of which an informal committee was formed to chart the way ahead.
Innumerable meetings later, we have formed a charitable trust which is due to take over the running of the centre in the very near future.
We have been promised funding from Invest Local which will keep the centre open for the next four years by which time we hope to put it on a secure financial footing to ensure its long-term viability.
And, as you’ve probably already guessed, none of my four opponents has lifted a finger to help.
That despite Jon Thrower living within spitting distance (I was going to say within stone-thrower’s range, but I’ve decided to leave the terrible puns to Jacob).
Last October, when our numbers fell away due to work and family commitments, town councillors Eric Harries and Alun Byrne volunteered to join the five remaining trustees which already included town councillor Rose Gray.
It was also agreed to write to Milford Haven Town Council asking if any other members would be interested in joining, either as trustees or supporters.
This brought no response, though the Mayor Cllr William Elliott, who bills himself as “the ONLY town councillor” standing for the county council in Hakin ward, cannot have been unaware of our plea because the town council minutes for 17 October 2016 record that he read out the trustees’ letter.