Thursday, 10 November 2016

"Stalinist" purge on Bridgend Council.

The Wasting Mule Online reports that 
....Six stalwart Bridgend Labour councillors have been barred from seeking re-election for the party.
Ross Thomas, who represents Maesteg West, Keith Edwards, Maesteg East, Edith Hughes and Gareth Phillips, both of Oldcastle in Bridgend, Cefn Glas' Cleone Westwood and Bettws' Martyn Jones have all been deselected.
The decision was made by the Ogmore constituency Labour Party (OCLP) following internal interviews in front of a panel to assess the suitability of candidates for next May's local elections.
All Labour candidates have to go through the same procedure.
It is understood the Labour panel comprised former Welsh Government Chief Whip and former Ogmore AM Janice Gregory, former Bridgend MP Win Griffiths and trade unionist Jim Hancock.
All of the councillors except Coun Westwood were told the reason for their ineligibility was because they defied the party whip and refused to back Bridgend council's failed merger bid with the Vale of Glamorgan in 2014.

They had felt the merger was a poor fit, was contrary to the Welsh Government's stated aims through the Williams Commission report and would also have jeopardised European funding for the poorer areas of Bridgend county borough.

Forty of the 48 councillors at that meeting voted to submit a formal expression of a merger with the Vale to the Welsh Government.

Ironically the then  Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews rejected the plan last month stating he was “disappointed” the bid did not meet the criteria for moving ahead.

Four of the five had voted against the plan - which was later rejected by the Welsh Government - while Martyn Jones had abstained.

The Williams Commission on the future of local government had  recommended that Bridgend should merge with neighbouring authority Neath Port Talbot, which shares the same health board.

Following the Bridgend council vote, members of Maesteg Town Council put their opposition to the merger plan on record.

Members also voted unanimously to complain to the Welsh Government about what it claimed was the council’s failure to consult properly with town and community councils across the area.

At the time, Maesteg Mayor Philip Jenkins said: 

“The council is totally opposed to this option, which it sees as a detrimental move for the residents of the Llynfi Valley. The council has advised the Welsh Government that Bridgend County Borough Council has abused its procedure/guidelines by not engaging with key stakeholders prior to making its decision.”

One of the deselected councillors Keith Edwards who represents Maesteg East said

"Obviously it's still a little bit hard to take in," said Keith, whose grandparents were founder members of the Labour Party in the Llynfi Valley.
it seems that the party machine is all about 'you will do as you are told' and the work you have done in the valley holds little or no regard.
"I am disappointed in the extreme.
"It (the proposed merger) was against the Welsh Government policy, it was against the recommendations of the Williams' report and it could have removed convergence funding from the fifth most deprived ward in Wales, Caerau.
"And hand on heart, I was born in this valley and will probably die in this valley and could not turn my back on these people.'If I was placed in that situation again then I would have no second thoughts as to making the same decision.
"We are in one of the most deprived areas of Wales and if we can't fight for the people in the community then we don't deserve to be elected by them."

So these councillors have been deselected for voting against a policy that never took place and was rejected by the very Assembly Minister who was encouraging such mergers.

Though such is the love of Bridgends Labour party for its neighbouring Council that Chris Elmorewho was a councillor for Castleland ward in the Vale of Glamorgan council. was selected for the Ogmore Byelection in May

The constituency includes Maesteg where two of the (I hesitate to use the term) rebel councillors come from.

Did this have any influence on the selection of Mr Elmore , maybe he didn't get support for his nomination from Maesteg.

How very Stalinists the behaviour of the Labour Party in Bridgend , Parties obviously have the right to disciline members who vote against party policy.

But these councillors has already been disciplined , and the reason for it had been buried.

Would anybody want to be a Labour Councillor when it appears that you must go against the interest of those you represent , and vote against the harebrained  scheme of the local party hierarchy .

1 comment:

  1. It would be one thing for the constituency party membership to decide not to consider them on the grounds of failure to observe collective decision making in the past. Nobody has any right to be selected as a party candidate and it is proper that sitting members in particular face challenge. At least the panel that interviewed them was composed of local worthies and appears to have been transparent in explaining its decisions in writing. That is not something most local constituency political parties be they Labour, Plaid, Tory or LibDem can say.