In Rhondda Cynon Taf There are 17 seats unfilled on the Community councils and there are many uncontested
In Gilfach Goch all 7 seats on the Council haven been won by Labour Unappeased whilst on the other side of the County in Ynysybwl Plaid have 8 candidates returned Unopposed out of 12 whilst the remaining 4 are unfilled.
And the pattern is repeated throughout Wales
80 of the seats in Carmarthenshire unfilled
20 in Bridgend
9 in Cardiff
10 in Blaneau Gwent
Community Council as I said are often seen as unglamourous but they can serve a very useful function n they s have powers to provide some facilities themselves, or they can contribute towards their provision by others.
There are large variations in the services provided by Communities, but they can include the following:
- Allotments - Support and encouragement of arts and crafts - Provision of village halls
- Recreation grounds, parks, - children's play areas, -playing fields and swimming baths
- Cemeteries and crematoria - Maintenance of closed churchyards
- Cleaning and drainage of ponds etc. - Control of litter
- Public conveniences - Creation and maintenance of footpaths and bridleways
- Provision of cycle and motorcycle parking - Acquisition and maintenance of rights of way
- Public clocks - War memorials - Encouragement of tourism
They may also provide the following subject to the consent of the county Council.
- Bus shelters - Signposting of footpaths - Lighting of footpaths
- Off-street car parks - Provision, maintenance and protection of roadside verges
Withholding of consent to stop up unclassified highways and footpaths
Consultation on appointment of managers of primary school
They raise the money by a precept (tax) their residents to support their operations and to carry out local projects.
This comes as part of the Council tax set by the County Council Although there is no limit to the amount that can be precepted, the money can only be raised for a limited number of purposes
I have some memory of a Community Council in Caerphilly which had been won by Independents raising the wrath of the South Wales Echo for proposed a big rise in the precept to expand its projects and virtually led to the fall of that council.
So how can we increase participation. here are some Idea and I don't necessarily endorse all of these.
- Hold the elections on a different date and issue polling cards (these are not even issued for by-elections) and its not advertised sufficiently when it run at the same time as the County Councils.
- Introductory STV and create bigger Wards or even elect the whole council by STV.
- Allow Community Councils to merge if they feel that this would improve their function
- Increase the powers of the Community Council by allowing them to call County Council Officials to explain actions which affect their area.
- Hold a referendum at each election on the precept giving the electorate 3 options candidates can the argue this as part of their campaign pointing out what they would proposed
- The Welsh Assembly should set aside about £1,000,000 annually to be a fund that Community Councils can apply for no more than £10,000 for projects outside their precept.
We need to raise the profile of these councils . It is not helped by the fact that whereas It is often clear by Media reports that we approaching the Local Government Elections . The only report of the Community elections are when no one stands.
Before you comment on this I am fully aware of the nature of me bemoaning this whilst failing to put my name forward and I accept your criticism.