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Friday, June 04, 2010

The trappings of power

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Dai Lloyd graces the pages of today's South Wales Evening Post (yes, I know it is the morning -don't ask) criticising Councils in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire for their expenditure on chauffeur-driven cars.

The cost of this method of transport for all three Councils is more than £120,000, with Neath Port Talbot spending £101,465, a figure that includes chauffeur costs. Swansea is paying out just under £12,000, whilst Carmarthenshire's bill is £12,328. Neither of these last two figures include staff however.

Dai has a valid point. In these stringent times all local Councils need to examine every penny of expenditure to ensure that they are getting value for money and that they are paying for services that will benefit the taxpayer rather than themselves. So why is he not getting as hot under the collar over spending by the Labour-Plaid Cymru Welsh Government, of which he is a key supporter?

In the last five years the Welsh Government spent over £5 million on hire cars. In 2008-09 their bill for chauffeur-driven cars for Ministers, including Plaid Cymru members of the Government, was £338,154, though that was admittedly 12% down on the previous year's bill of £384,206.

Both the Welsh Government's bill and that of our local Councils needs to be scrutinised and reduced. However, Dai Lloyd should note that although he is free to criticise others when they get it wrong, he should get his own house in order first.
You have become a refreshing example of what the majority of the electorate have looked for, a voice at the Assembly, excellent work from yourself and the rest of the Liberal Democrats.
"Both the Welsh Government's bill and that of our local Councils needs to be scrutinised and reduced."

Clearly that is what has happened, with the Welsh Govt bill coming down?

So Dai Lloyd is on pretty solid ground to criticise those councils.
The Councils' bill has already come down as well. The point is that WAG is spending far more than the Councils and retain the same set up.
The problem with this political point scoring is as your comments about WAG illustrates is that it doesn't do the reputation of either politics or politicians any good. In terms of the cuts local government in Wales will be expected to carry out in the next few years the cost of the civic car is of course peanuts.Having said that it is also a classic example of how important perception is in politics. You will never convince voters that there is no money for vital services if they see the local mayor being driven around in a car only a lottery winner could afford. In Bridgend we purchased outright a Ford Mondeo
for £14000 from a discount car company in Slough. For some reason your fellow Liberal Democrats decided that this wasn't good enough and leased a Volvo worth £60000. There are two solutions to all of this. Personnally I've never seen the logic of the position of a civic Mayor and I would abolish it. Given the buggins turn nature of the office some Mayors are perfect ambassadors for the authority others an embarrassment. If on the other hand people belive that a Mayor and car are required then the obvious answer is a quick look at Autotrader. Could I suggest either a second hand Jaguar with about 60000 on the clock or even better the car of French Presidents the Citroen C6. A C6 with about 16000 on the clock will cost £15k and last for years. Look at the old Daimler used by Judges in Cardiff. I'm sure Peter that the Council even could do a deal with Bassetts!
I don't know much about costs of cars except the cost of running my old banger, but I note that Plaid Cymru has hogged most of the Mayoralty of Carmarthen Town Council for the past thity years. Somehow the name "Hughes-Griffiths, Plaid Cymru" keeps popping up on the Mayoral lists there. Maybe they walk around or ride a bike, but the Welsh Nats certainly love the trappings of being called the Plaid Cymru Mayor of Carmarthen Town Council - which really is only a glorified Parish Council rather like the one at Cardiff Bay. Any comment to make on that Dai Lloyd?
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