Welcome to our first Caerphilly CLP Newsletter of 2013. We are glad that you have survived both the Christmas and New Year celebrations and the recent snow and ice.
Our next GC Meeting will be held on Friday, 8 February starting at 6:30pm and finishing no later than 8:30pm at our usual venue, the Caerphilly County Borough Council Chambers at Ty Penallta, Ystrad Mynach.
We have an important guest speaker, our Member of the European Parliament, Derek Vaughan. He will speak about the 2014 European Elections, and no doubt will refer to the recent speech by the PM on the European Union referendum. I anticipate a lively debate. Derek will have copies of his recent pamphlet on why the EU is so important for Wales to distribute at the meeting.
At our GC meeting on Friday, 11January we agreed to re-establish our Executive Committee meetings that will consider party correspondence and reports, and thus allow more time at our GC meetings for debates, the Q &A sessions with our MP, AM & Labour Group Leader of the Caerphilly County Borough Council, and guest speakers. Each Branch has been invited to select a delegate to the Executive Committees at their forthcoming AGMs. Delegates from the affiliated trade unions together with CLP Officers will be selected at our Constituency AGM on Friday, 8 March. Please make every effort to attend your Branch AGM which should take place during the month of January or February. If you haven’t been informed yet of the date contact your local Branch Secretary.
Since we have no scheduled elections during 2013 we plan to get more involved in contributing to the new online policy forum system for the Labour Party. Through this new fourm constituencies have been invited to respond to various policy issues that will help determine our manifesto for the General Election in May 2015. I sent an email to all members recently inviting party members who wish to participate in this activity to contact me. If you haven’t yet done so please consider participating.
A reminder to all our Labour Caerphilly County Borough councillors and Town and Community councillors of my recent email asking you to attend more of our GC Meetings. We are concentrating our campaigning activities during 2013 on local community issues, and as councillors you have a key role to play in these activities; hence our request for attending our GC meetings that will feature this item on the Agenda on all our future meetings.
Parliamentary boundary changes defeated
You will have read of the recent vote in the House of Commons that defeated the Tory plans to create new parliamentary seats and reducce the number of MPs at the next election by 50, including reducing the number of Welsh MPs by 10. Overall, commentators have suggested that therse new boundaries would have given the Conservatives a 20 seat advatage going into the next General Election.
Our MP, Wayne, as Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform was instrumental in securing this vote. He held numerous meetings with all the opposition parties and the Liberal Democrats. Wayne has asked me to let you know the details of the vote in the House of Commons:
1. There were 4 Tory rebels and 2 Tories who abstained. A further 3 Tory MPs, all Government Ministers, were absent from the vote.
2. Every single Labour MP who was able to take part in the vote, 254 of them, voted against the measure.
3. All the Liberal Democrat MPs - 57 in total - voted with Labour against the motion.
4. 5 Scottish Nationalists, 6 out of the 8 Deomcratic Unionists, all 4 Social and Democratic Labour Party MPs, all the Plaid Cymru MPs and the 4 non-party MPsvoted against the motion.
5. The Govt was defeated by 334 to 292 votes
This means that the May 2015 General Election will be fought on the current parliamentary boundaries, and, unless the Tories introduce a new Bill, the next Welsh Assembly Elections due in 2016, will also be fought on the current boundaries.
Caerphilly Council agrees to rescind senior pay decision
It was agreed at a meeting of the Caerphilly County Borough Council that the senior staff pay increases imposed in September 2012 be rescinded. The terms of the rescission were as follows:
1. New pay structure retained but with the Chief Officer moving to the lowest increment level rather than the highest (or the next highest increment where the lowest increment in the new pay structure is lower than current pay), on and with effect as soon as is reasonably possible, with incremental steps not commencing until April 2014
a. CEO salary increases set at a one off 4%, on a spot salary of £137,000
b. The highest band A+ will not be used for the period of the current administration
c. A one off saving of £418,000 will be made over the four years and returned to the Council.
d. The issue of Chief Officer Pay will not be revisited in the lifetime of the current administration unless required by law or local government regulations. Any future proposal at any time would require a final decision by Full Council.
2. This motion was supported by all of the Labour members and the3 Independent members of Council. 14 Plaid Cymru members voted against the motion in a recorded vote.
3. Cllr Hefin David who proposed the Motion added:” This is a compromise and so involves some negotiations but the alternatives to the Council would have been costly and potentially far worse”
4. Cllr Hefin David noted the point made by the Joint Trade Unions that stated “We (the unions) recognise the complex legal issues surrounding this matter and accept that the Labour Group has made significant efforts to find a resolution which doesn’t potentially involve the council in prohibitive and significant legal costs”
5. Leader of Council, Harry Andrews said “This compromise will hopefully demonstrate to staff and the wider public that our determination to address this issue was sincere and that we value every single member of staff of this organisation. If this can now be accepted as a resolution we can move on to deliver on our priorities for the benefit of all of the people of the county borough. We can now work with all staff at all levels, including the Chief Executive and senior officers to achieve that”
Wayne David MP
The Government that has no answers for Britain
The economic figures for the UK that were published the other week showed that at the end of last year the economy had started to shrink again. They also showed that in the whole of 2012 our country’s economy failed to grow at all.
And since the Tory-led Government’s introduced its programme of cuts through its Spending Review at the end of 2010, our economy has grown by just 0.4%. Over the same period the German economy has grown by 3.5%, according to the latest figures.
Last autumn the Chancellor and the Prime Minister couldn’t wait to brag about the country finally being out of the double dip recession that they had created. George Osborne claimed that it showed that Britain was “on the right track” and the Prime Minister boasted that “the good news will keep coming”. But it is clear that this temporary boost our economy, welcome though it was, was only thanks to the Olympics and Paralympics.
This time the Chancellor was not quite so gleeful. Instead, he tried to shrug off the dire news and returned to his old tactic of ignoring the advice, which he is getting from all sides, that his failing economic plan isn’t working and he needs to do something different.
The Chancellor and the Prime Minister should listen and act now to give direct help to struggling families and businesses. But will they do this? No. In fact the only people that they will help are millionaires - who let’s not forget will actually get a tax cut in April. And on the same day that this tax cut comes in, millions of working families throughout the country will have their tax credits cut. That says it all about the priorities of this Tory-led Government.
With David Cameron we have a government that promised change but has actually made things worse. What we need more than ever is a change of direction and a Labour government that would be on the side of ordinary people. A Labour government that would offer a change of course with policies to kick-start our flat lining economy, such as a compulsory jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed and a temporary VAT cut to boost family incomes and our struggling high streets.
But the longer David Cameron and George Osborne insist that they know best by clinging to their failing economic plan the more long-term damage will be done. They must finally listen and act now to kick-start our economy.
Jeff Cuthbert AM
Local projects to get Assembly funding boost
Three local projects in the Caerphilly constituency are set to benefit from a major funding boost, thanks to a popular grant scheme provided by the Welsh Government.
Local Labour AM Jeff Cuthbert has welcomed the news as a shot in the arm to community life and the local economy.
The Community Facilities and Activities Programme (CFAP) funding will provide £300,000 to the Caerphilly Miners’ Centre for the Community to renovate the Grade II-listed ‘Beeches’ building and establish this as a community facility; £189,314 to the Graig-y-Rhacca Resource Centre to extend the current building, expanding the café and waiting areas and creating room for pushchair and wheelchair storage; and £4,762 to Holy Trinity Church, Ystrad Mynach in order to purchase new tables, chairs and a PA system for the Church Community Hall.
Labour’s Jeff Cuthbert AM said, “This is great news and I’m delighted all three projects have been successful in their bids for this funding. It will help all of them to carry on their good work in our communities.
“The funding is also a further shot in the arm for community life and the local economy during these difficult times.
“The three projects are among several across Wales to benefit from the latest round of the Welsh Government’s popular Community Facilities and Activities Programme.
“The programme is not just about buildings. It’s about people, regenerating our towns and villages and restoring a sense of community spirit.”
As many of you will know, the New Year’s Dinner that was scheduled to take place on the evening of Friday 18 January had to be postponed because of the snow.
The dinner has been re-arranged and will take place at Caerphilly Golf Club, Mountain Road, Caerphilly, on Friday 15 March at 7pm. The members that had indicated that they would be attending the Dinner on Friday 18 January 2013 will be contacted to confirm if the new date is suitable for them. Places are available for the dinner and tickets are £20 each. If you would like to attend the dinner, please contact Lisa Jones on 07811 104389.
The Caerphilly Constituency Labour Party Members Annual New Year Draw will be take place at the re-scheduled dinner.