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Tuesday, November 18, 2003


A news item on the radio this morning revealed that 27% of all members of Male Voice Choirs in Wales are over 70. There is a huge problem attracting younger members and the age profile of these choirs fail to reflect their communities. Sound familiar? It should. This is the same issue faced by Welsh County Councils. My first thought was that maybe a Golden Goodbye scheme for the Male Voice Choirs in question might succeed in getting younger members for them. Then I realised how ridiculous that idea was. After all, if it won't work for Councils then why should it work for choirs?

The Assembly did finally pass a sensible policy on Councillors today. We agreed to introduce a contributory pension scheme for Councillors elected in 2004. This had all-party support because it actually addressed a real problem of compensating those who offer themselves for public service who subsequently lose out in terms of lost wages or promotion prospects because of their decision. As we are moving towards more professional Councillors then it is only right that we ensure that they have adequate conditions of employment. Somehow though the question as to whether we actually needed full time and professional Councillors was never addressed.

Update: I reported earlier this month that 13 Councils have voted not to implement the Golden Goodbye scheme. This turns out to be 12, with 8 in favour. Cardiff and Gwynedd have still to make a decision but as the deadline for Councillors to register for the scheme is this Thursday then they will have to get their skates on.

I'm in a choir (Cor Dewi Sant, based in Pembrokeshire) and am nowhere near my 70's - although do feel it on times!

Nigel Howells 19 November 2003
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