Welcome to the February edition of our monthly bulletin, providing you with the news of what is going on within the Caerphilly Constituency Labour Party.
Secretary’s Report: Bryn Hollywell
Our February GC meeting on Friday 14 Feb starts as usual at 6:30pm. We will have a presentation from the General Secretary of the Welsh Labour, Dave Hagendyk, one of our own members residing in Caerphilly. Dave will outline the Labour strategy on the forthcoming European Elections in May.
The Proportional Representation voting system for European Elections means that every vote throughout our constituency (and the whole of Wales) counts. Consequently the more successful we are in persuading Labour voters to cast their vote, the more seats we can win. Current polling data suggests that we can gain 2 out of the 4 seats in Wales. Dave will explain this in more detail during his presentation.
Williams Commission Report on Public Service Governance and Delivery in Wales
Both myself and our CLP Chair, Pam Baldwin, represented the Caerphilly CLP at a briefing meeting organised by Welsh Labour for all constituencies and Labour council representaives. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, together with Leslie Griffiths, the Minister for Local Government, and Cllr Bob Wellington, the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Labour Group, spoke and answered numerous questions from the audience.
I have already circulated a summary of the 62 recommendations and I have now sent an email to all Party members on a special meeting to debate this topic. The meeting will be on Friday 28 February at 6:30pm at our usual venue, the Council Chambers at Ty Penallta.
I reiterate that the Williams Report is not solely about local government boundaries, it covers the whole of the services provided by the public sector in Wales. I am looking forward to a lively debate and discussion on this very important subject, I urge you to attend and have your say.
Links with the Trade Unions
The Special Conference on the Collins Report will be held on Saturday 1 March in London. Again, myself and the CLP Chair, Pam Baldwin, will be the 2 delegates representing our constituency.
As expected, the media have reported various segments of what will be published, but their accuracy will not be tested until the NEC have considered the proposals, and then put forward their recommendations to the Special Conference. I will provide a full report in the March issue of this CLP bulletin on what was agreed.
Electoral Commission Report on Election Fraud
This report was published a few weeks ago and, although it found only scant evidence of fraud in some seats with a high density of Asian voters, it is recommending that all voters produce evidence of their identity when they turn up at the Polling Station. We will oppose such measures as it will be another disincentive to vote. The Con Dem Government have already passed legislation which means that at the next annual renewal of registering your details on the electoral register, every individual in the household will have to sign the declaration. We suspect that the only outcome will be even less people on the electoral register.
I am planning to put forward some radical ideas for the Labour manifesto to halt this decline in voting, a trend that only helps the Tories, and suggest a totally different system. I will reveal more details when the National Policy Forum begins its final consultation exercise, and individual Party members will be invited to participate.
Article from Wayne David MP
Labour: creating a fairer tax system
Before the last election, David Cameron said that the top rate of tax should stay at 50p because it showed that the “rich will pay their share”. But last year, the Prime Minister decided the people in Britain who needed a tax cut the most were those earning over £150,000 a year.
This tax cut came at the same time as most people in our country were struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis created by his Government.
But instead of looking to help families facing rising food prices and higher gas and electricity bills, the Tories chose to give the richest in our society a massive tax cut.
It came as little surprise therefore that the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies published figures the other week showing that it is people on lower incomes who have been hit hardest by rising prices under this Government. Further proof that working people are worse off under the Tories.
And to show that he doesn’t get it, David Cameron has repeatedly refused to rule out giving another tax cut for people earning more than £150,000 a year. Labour will do things differently.
When you are taking difficult decisions to get the deficit down and working families are struggling, it is really important that people feel the burden is shared. This is why Ed Balls has promised that a Labour government will restore the top rate of tax to 50p.
Labour will also bring in a lower starting tax rate of 10p. This will help make work pay and cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes.
To help tackle the cost of living crisis, Labour has promised to freeze energy prices until 2017 and it will also act to boost the minimum wage and promote the living wage.
This is how you pay down the deficit and make work pay so that Britain can earn its way out of the cost of living crisis.
Article from Jeff Cuthbert AM
The Williams Report
Last month (Monday 20 January) saw the publication of the Full Report of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery, better known as the Williams Report. The Commission was set up by First Minister Carwyn Jones last April and was chaired by the former chief executive of NHS Wales, Sir Paul Williams – hence its name. The Commission began its work last May and its remit was both thorough and wide-ranging, covering all devolved public services in Wales. Over several months, the Commission took evidence from a large spectrum of stakeholders including members of the public, elected representatives, and last but certainly not least, workers who actually deliver the services on the ground.
The Report runs to nearly 350 pages. It looks at the delivery and governance arrangements of public services in Wales in depth, and makes a series of recommendations as to how the Commission believes these can improve to better serve the people of Wales and to make them sustainable in the long term, against a backdrop of decreasing finances and increasing demand. Inevitably, the bulk of the media attention has focused on the number of local authorities in Wales, as these bodies deliver a lot of these public services on the day-to-day front line.
The Report recommends that the number of local authorities in Wales is reduced from the current level of 22 down to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12. Either way, it suggests that Caerphilly County Borough merge with neighbouring Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. All three of these local authorities fall within the area of Aneurin Bevan Health Board and Gwent Police force, while all three local authorities also qualify for the highest-level ‘Convergence’ funding from the European Union.
The Welsh Government will now consider the Report’s recommendations thoroughly and engage in discussion and debate with all relevant stakeholders before making a response. Any changes of this magnitude (such as those proposed by Williams) would require careful deliberation and planning, and we will not be rushed into any decision. There is a general consensus, however, that 22 local authorities in a country of 3 million people are too much. Some local authorities are very small and their long-term future is questionable. Two of Caerphilly’s neighbouring authorities highlight the potential problem with this. Cardiff is the largest authority in Wales with a population of over 345,000. Meanwhile, Merthyr Tydfil is Wales’ smallest, with a population of fewer than 59,000. Clearly discrepancies in size like this are not really sustainable. Furthermore, a number of local authorities’ education services have been placed into ‘special measures’ by the Welsh Government, while once council – Ynys Mon – completely collapsed and democratic elections had to be suspended.
What is certain, therefore, is that ‘no change at all’ is simply not an option.
530 tickets were sold for the Members' Annual New Year Draw that was drawn at the January GC meeting. £102 was made towards CLP funds. Thank you to everyone who bought tickets.
Details of the prizes and winners are as follows:
1st Prize of £100
Ticket No: 0750 Name: Lyndon Hoare
2nd Prize of £50
Ticket No: 0007 Name: Janice Davies
3rd Prize of £25
Ticket No: 2164 Name: Dianne Price
4th Prize of case of quality wine
Ticket No: 1253 Name: Peter Slarke
5th Prize of House of Commons whiskey
Ticket No: 2085 Name: Huw Thomas
6th Prize of Assembly wine
Ticket No: 2409 Name: Gay Hollywell
7th Prize of box of chocolates
Ticket No: 1451 Name: Sean Morgan
We are pleased that so many Party members decided to make joining the 250 Club one of their New Year’s resolutions and we would like to thank all new and old members for their support.