May 2 2013

 

Labour pains

I logged on to that other website this afternoon and was shocked to find the young upstart had scooped me again with the news that Cllr Sue Perkins has followed in the footsteps of Cllrs Ken Rowlands and Simon Hancock and abandoned the Labour ship for the Independent Plus Political Group.
Regular readers will know that the "Plus" was inserted so that Cllr Hancock could keep his promise not to join the Independent Political Group.
Ah! the things you can do with words.
Now that Cllr Perkins has gone over perhaps it should be Double Plus.
What is particularly galling about being upstaged is that I have been expecting this story to break ever since I saw pictures of the three amigos in this week's Western Telegraph.
I had already heard on the grapevine that the Labour Group was planning to pull Sue Perkins out of the Cabinet and when I saw the three of them side by side under the headline "Key cabinet safeguarding roles spelled out" I suspected a spin operation designed to show how important they all were.
I understand Labour took the view that it was propping up the IPPG; especially as Cllr Perkins was bound by collective Cabinet responsibility and couldn't be relied upon to back her own leader (On the fence).
In addition Labour sources tell me that the party only agreed to Cllr Perkins joining the Cabinet on the understanding that it was a temporary arrangement until the safeguarding situation had been resolved and with the departure of the Ministerial Board it was felt that that objective had been achieved.
Clearly Cllr Perkins was not happy to give up her position of power and has now jumped ship.
Old Grumpy feels bound to remind readers of her reaction to Cllr Ken Rowlands' when he crossed over to the dark side in 2008 during her time as leader of the Labour group.
As you will recall Cllr Perkins made a vitriolic attack on her now best friend in the Western Telegraph (Love, Labour's lost) in which she expressed the hope that he would enjoy his "thirty pieces of silver".
That was reference to the £15,000 SRA he was to receive as a member of the Cabinet.
Cllr Perkins gave up the Leadership of the Labour Group (SRA £9,000) to join the Cabinet - a difference of £6,000 which I calculate; using the rate of exchange she applied to Cllr Rowlands, comes to a mere 12 pieces of silver.
PS Cllr Perkins has now made a statement to the WT in which she says she did it for the children.
In that case she could simply have resigned from the Labour Group and become unaffiliated.
That way she would not have been in breach of Labour Party rules which, I understand, provide for the expulsion of a member only if they join another political group.
At least Pembroke Dock now has two members of the ruling group - Cllr Perkins' sworn enemy Brian Hall being the other.
Still, you shouldn't judge people by the company they keep!

Tender thoughts

I had hoped to do a longer piece on the grant situation in Pembroke Dock, but Cllr Perkins' defection has thrown my plans into disarray.
However, I can give you the lowdown on one project - the former Gordon's butchers shop at 25 Dimond Street.
Below is the breakdown of the grants awarded to this contract.

Project Grant heading  Grant rate  Total cost  Grant
  25 Dimond St. Pem Dock  Architectural/heritage  90%  £14,985  £13,487
   Structure/fabric  70%  £39,822  £27,876
   Retail space  40%  £57,795  £23,118

What is interesting is that the part labelled "Architectural/Heritage" - the bit visible from the street - seems to be in line with other grants in Pembroke (Taken for granted).
What puzzles Old Grumpy is how anyone could seriously tender £57,795 for the "refurbishment of 35 sq m of commercial property floorspace" as the report to Cabinet puts it.
Thirty-five sq m is roughly half as big again as the average living room.
And what's more that was the lowest of six tenders received.
The highest was 25% greater which on a pro rata basis would make the cost of tarting up this retail space approximately £70,000.
I'm afraid this is where Alice in Wonderland meets Fantasy Island.

Overheated

An fierce battle of words is underway on the Western Telegraph's letter's page over the controversial subject of global warming.
This week Gordon James of Friends of the Earth takes centre stage with a withering attack on an earlier letter writer Dave Bevan who is accused of making "absurd claims" and "numerous misleading and inaccurate statements".
"Mr Bevan asserts that there has been NO increase in world temperatures since 1997 ". thunders Mr James. "This is completely wrong as global temperatures have continued to rise making the last decade the warmest on record"
He goes on to point out that the the Met Office has said that "eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade".
This last statement is true, but it doesn't logically follow that this means that "global temperatures have continued to rise".
For example, averaged over the past ten years, UK GDP is the highest it has ever been, but that doesn't mean it continues to grow.
In fact, after a period of rising global temperatures, the graph has levelled off.
You don't have to believe me - you can log on to the Met Office's website and see for yourself (Met Office).
And the Met Office has recently predicted that this pause will last until 2017.
Whether temperatures will resume their rise after that, or whether, as leading Russian solar physicists predict, we are heading for another mini ice-age, is anyone's guess.
Mr James also criticises Mr Bevan's reliance on the opinions of global warming sceptic, Prof Ian Plimmer.
"Prof Plimmer, an Australian, is not a climate scientist but a geologist." Mr James huffs.
As for Mr James, he quotes with approval the views of former Chief Government Scientist Prof Sir John Beddington.
Though it should be pointed out that Sir John's line of country is applied population biology.
It seems that lack of relevant expertise is only a problem with people who don't agree with you.
Sauce, geese and ganders, anyone?

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