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The Future for Pembrokeshire

the futureTHE PEMBROKESHIRE Alliance wants to see the County retain its independence and we strongly oppose the proposed merger with Ceredigion or the re-creation of Dyfed as outlined in the recent Williams report.

This was one of the key reasons we formed the Pembrokeshire Alliance. The county needs an organisation to fight for Pembrokeshire and protect its right to govern its own affairs. After scandal after scandal, Pembrokeshire Council is, however, not doing itself any favours.

The IPG group has no manifesto, no policies – except keeping Council tax low – combined with a total disregard for public opinion. They are secretive, defensive and arrogant and have brought this proud county into disrepute by their actions. The IPG, although controlling the council only amount to 33 residents, and we do not think they reflect what this County could achieve with the right attitudes and policies. Pembrokeshire can and will do better once they are removed from office.

The reasons why we oppose the suggested re-organisation are:

1) The financial cost of merging would be substantial with no improvement in services. The Williams commission suggested that the cost of re-organisation in Wales would cost a minimum of £100 million. We think the figure could and would be much higher but the cost to Pembrokeshire would be at least £5 million on their figures. In fact we believe services could actually decline.

2) The Local Health Board is an example of how services now cost much more, with more highly paid managers but a severe decline in local services, with seemingly more to come. In addition local accountability has been reduced. Can you imagine the senior salaries that could be involved?

3) The cost to every Council tax payer in Pembrokeshire would be substantial. Depending on which model is used council tax could rise by at least 16% but quite possibly by 25%. For the average Council tax payer that would be over £450 extra per year.

4) We are in favour of local democracy and accountability and we do not want to see centralisation. We do not think that someone living in Ammanford or Borth has any concept about what is required in Pembrokeshire. Dyfed was a disaster so why does the Welsh Government seemingly want to return to this failed model of local government?

5) When Dyfed was originally formed Pembrokeshire had two District councils with responsibility for some key areas. This option is not available under the current proposals: that means that we will have less local accountability than we did under the original failed model.We are in favour of joint working arrangements which can reduce costs and we will support any opportunities that arise. We think the recent problems at Pembrokeshire County Council which have been caused by poor governance are likely to be used by those that want to see a return of Dyfed. That is why it is so important that we reclaim our Council from the totally inept IPG administration.

If Dyfed did return the politics would be extremely complicated. Plaid Cymru would almost certainly be the largest party but they would be well short of a majority. Labour and many shades of Independents would be the second largest groupings, followed by the Liberal Democrats and then the Tories. One dreads to think of the horse trading and deals that would be done to secure power. It is perfectly possible that a ruling administration could contain nobody from Pembrokeshire. If it was a merger with Ceredigion then the politics again would be complicated. Independents would be the biggest grouping but the language and cultures are very different between Borth and Amroth. Labour has only 1 councillor in Ceredigion and the Tories none, so Plaid would be the largest political party with a significant number of Liberal The Future for Pembrokeshire

If it was a merger with Ceredigion then the politics again would be complicated. Independents would be the biggest grouping but the language and cultures are very different between Borth and Amroth. Labour has only 1 councillor in Ceredigion and the Tories none, so Plaid would be the largest political party with a significant number of Liberal Democrats all from Ceredigion. No political party would be in a position to run an administration.

If this did come about the Pembrokeshire Alliance would seek to work with other like-minded groups in Ceredigion and/or Carmarthenshire well before elections took place.

But do not be in any doubt: we are completely opposed to a forced merger of Pembrokeshire and we will fight to retain our independence.

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Dayne Stone

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