News that county council Leader John Davies has been elected Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) prompted Old Grumpy to wonder if ever so much power was owed to so few votes because, with the exception of a few hundred people in Cilgerran, nobody has ever put a cross on the ballot paper for John Davies and whatever he stands for.
Indeed, Cllr Davies owes his vast powers to the votes of the other 37 members of the Independent Political (sic) Group [party] some of whom promised the electorate in the clearest possible terms that they wouldn't join the group (Party animals) (Slippery definitions)
It also prompted me to visit the WLGA website where I found a press release headed:
Council leaders and their police authority partners across Wales have unanimously rejected Home Office proposals to have directly elected police chiefs.
This is a mendacious piece of spin because, in normal parlance, 'police chiefs' means chief constables and other senior officers, whereas, according to the government's green paper on police reform the proposal is that: The majority on each police authority will, however, no longer be formed from local councillors. Instead, people throughout England and Wales will directly vote for individuals, known as Crime and Policing Representatives (CPRs), to represent their concerns locally.
The press release contains a message from WLGA Leader John Davies who is quoted as saying: “This is a half-baked proposal that fails to recognise the strength of the current system in Wales. Not only would it add another level of bureaucracy to an already cumbersome policing system but would devalue the legitimate role of the local council which already has the democratic mandate to deliver services that meet local community needs. If the Home Office wants to consider this new role then surely these extra powers should be given to council leaders who are already doing the job. Sidelining the role of democratically elected councillors could prove to be a recipe for disaster, particularly if police authorities and councils were to work to different local political agendas.”
As I said last week, this was originally a Tory policy, so I wonder what card-carrying Tories members of his Cabinet such as Cllrs David Wildman and Mark Edwards make of it.
For myself, I find it difficult to understand how anyone can talk about the "strength of the current system" and the "already cumbersome policing system" in consecutive sentences.
But logic has never been one of Cllr Davies' strong suits.
Nor can I see how giving the people the right to choose their representatives on the police authority would 'add another level of bureaucracy'.
Surely, he means another level of democracy.
And why would anyone who had the slightest respect for the democratic process believe that giving these extra powers to council leaders would be better than putting them in the hands of elected representatives?
As for 'sidelining the role of democratically elected councillors' that has already been done.
As I pointed out last week, appointments to the police authority are made by Cllr Davies, alone, without reference to anyone.
He appointed himself and Cllr David Neale to these £6,500 a year posts.
His real objection is that neither of them would have a cat in hell's chance if it was down to the people to decide.
And on whose behalf was he speaking when he made the above statement?
Certainly not the democratically elected councillors because we have never discussed the government's green paper.
After his victory in the recent by-election former Tory shadow Home Secretary David Davies described Gordon Brown's government as arrogant, arbitrary and autocratic.
Three adjectives that apply in spades to the present unofficial Tory regime in county hall.

 

I have received an e-mail from John Dixon - Plaid Cymru candidate for South Pembs and W Carmarthen at the last election - drawing my attention to a recent report by the Electoral Commission which includes some comments on the difficulty voters experience distinguishing between members of independent political groups and true independents.
The Commission have promised a further report on the issue in the Autumn.
In the meantime Mr Dixon's views on the subject, which correspond with my own, can be accessed at
http://borthlas.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-it-looks-like-duck-and-quacks-like.html

I have received a police press release about motorists verbally abusing cyclists riding on the road between Sentry Cross and Honeyborough rather than using the cycle track.
Driving over to my daughter's house in Lamphey early in the morning, I have encountered this chap several times.
I must admit to the impulse to wind down the window and tell him that the taxpayer has spent a huge amount of money to provide him with a safe cycle track.
Two things have prevented me from taking this course of action.
Firstly, the electric windows on my car have packed up and, secondly, I am rather encouraged to find someone who prefers the thrill of dodging the traffic rather than being nannied onto an antiseptic cycle track.
Regarding cycle tracks, we have a new one running through Hakin and Hubberston.
Its construction involved widening the pavement and laying a strip of differently coloured tarmac.
Unfortunately, the topography prevents this path widening exercise along the full length of the route.
So, starting at the western end, cyclists join the path and ride for about 200 yards before being confronted with a sign saying "Cyclists dismount".
Whether this means from their bikes, or from the pavement, is not altogether clear.
200 yards further on, at the top of St Lawrence Hill, the cycle track is restored whereupon bikers can start pedalling down the hill as far as the Bridge Inn where the instruction to dismount is repeated.
As a councillor, it grieves me that public money has been expended on this farce, while the serious parking problems on the council estates in my ward go unaddressed because of um, er shortage of public money.

 

Two weeks ago I failed, for only the third time in 16 years, counting my time at the Mercury, to post this column.
I claimed to be on holiday but, strictly speaking, this was not true.
It was other people who were on holiday: my son and his girlfriend all the way from Vancouver Island, and my daughter and her Polish friend from Krakow.
Unfortunately, this meant endless family meals and barbecues accompanied by industrial quantities of red wine.
I'm afraid to say, I got led astray.
Now they have all returned whence they came and things, including my liver, are getting back to normal. 
Of course it is lovely to have all the family together; even if just for a fortnight, but since they have gone back I have realised that these are other pluses such as the fancy shampoos and toiletries left behind in the shower.
Grumpette usually buys those large plastic bottles of Tesco 'Value' shampoo though why she thinks I want to go around smelling of apples I don't know.
But, for the past few days, I have had a choice of "Wash and Go" and "Head and Shoulders".
Luxury, indeed.
There is also something called shower gel though I am not quite sure how to use it.
Is it a substitute for soap, or shampoo, or both?
Perhaps an image-conscious reader can help.
But I'm drawing the line at the aftershave.
A million years of evolution can't be wrong, so I'll be sticking with the pheromones.
The pair of expensive wrap-around sunglasses I found under the bed are another matter altogether.
I have never watched 'Big Brother'; visited Carew Market; desired a personalised number plate; or worn sunglasses, but vanity got the better of me and one day when Grumpette was out I tried them on in the privacy of the bathroom.
"Cool man, cool" I whispered to myself on seeing my image in the mirror.
The problem is it's rained every day since they went back, so I've not had an excuse to wear them.