Local Government reorganisation – an alternative approach

This is a letter which I’ve sent to the public services minister, in the context of the ongoing discussions about local government reorganisation. I hope it will contribute to the debate.

Dear Leighton

Re: Local Government reorganisation in the west

I am writing to share some of my ideas on a way forward for the reorganisation of local government in the west i.e. the former Dyfed. I write this letter as an Assembly Member in the area and the letter is not to be interpreted as representing Plaid Cymru’s views more widely.

There are two principles central to my considerations in this letter:

1. The need to create a model that reflects the reality of providing services and democracy in a rural area

2. The need to ensure that any reorganisation of local government in the future will strengthen, not dilute, the Welsh language within public administration and reflect the social and economic realities of Welsh-language communities.

Firstly, I will refer to the recommendations of the Williams report, namely to recreate the former Dyfed County or to merge Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion and retain Carmarthenshire. I have already stated my opposition to merging Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion – on the basis of the distance and lack of any meaningful connection between main centres, such as Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock. This option would also run the risk of diluting the Welsh language in both public administration and service provision in the area.

The alternative Williams option (Dyfed) is more economically and linguistically coherent. In considering these two options alone, then the option of Dyfed is preferable to the option of Ceredigion-Pembrokeshire. However, like others, I worry the council would be dominated by the more populated and urban areas along the M4 – A40 corridor, to the detriment of more rural issues. That was certainly the experience of those who experienced the previous Dyfed County Council.

Ceredigion County Council’s view, and Plaid Cymru within that Council, is to keep Ceredigion as a separate entity. I understand why of course – Ceredigion Council’s performance, although small, is one of the best in Wales and in some important aspects, the best in Wales. This is an important consideration and should not be dismissed lightly. All things being equal, I would support keeping Ceredigion County Council in its present form. This could be built upon to create a model of co-operation and formal partnership between a number of small, rural co-terminous councils. A Regional Council of this type could be used to provide some services more effectively and strategically across regional areas, while allowing local councils to provide and decide on other services more locally. A Regional Council could be cover the Welsh coastal communities from of Ynys Mon to Carmarthenshire. Alternatively, a Regional Council could include the 4 local councils of Powys, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Elected councillors from the local councils would form the Regional Council.

I turn now to a new proposal option, and one which I believe deserves consideration and discussion in the context of the west – namely, the division of the former Dyfed between north and south, rather than west and east. To do this, the current boundaries of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire or Carmarthenshire would not be kept in their present form. Two new counties would be created:

1. Ceredigion in its entirety, North Pembrokeshire and North Carmarthenshire

2. South Carmarthenshire and South Pembrokeshire.

For the purpose of this letter, I’ll call one council area, North Dyfed, and the other, South Dyfed

In effect, North Dyfed Council would include the rural areas around the old market towns and service centres:

Llandovery

Lampeter

Llandysul

Newcastle Emlyn

Crymych

Cardigan

Aberaeron

Tregaron

Aberystwyth

If a different decision was to be taken about the future of Powys, then the area around Machynlleth could be added to this new Council. This would include 6 wards from Carmarthenshire, 4 wards from Pembrokeshire, 2 wards from Powys and 42 wards from Ceredigion – a total of 54 wards. The total number of electors would be 76,492 (excluding under 18 year olds)

The advantage of this option would be to create two Councils which better reflect the rural differences and the linguistic differences within the former county of Dyfed. The percentage of Welsh speakers in the north of the former Dyfed is significantly higher than in the south, thus allowing a council to be created that serves and administers primarily in Welsh. I would expect the South Dyfed Council to also operate bilingually. There is a historically and currently close relationship between communities in the upper Tywi and Teifi valleys and also between the Teifi valley and the Preseli. and along the two either side of the Teifi. The Teifi has only ever been an administrative division and the communities co-exist naturally on either sides of the Teifi – in economic, social and educational terms.

If there are to be changes in the boundaries of local councils in the west, then the option to form a North Dyfed and South Dyfed Council are certainly worthy of serious consideration. It is certainly more radical than options discussed so far and, in my opinion, it is more sustainable and representative of the economic and social realities of the area.

I will be sharing this letter to many interested parties in order to stimulate discussion on the proposal.

Yours faithfully

Elin Jones AM

 

Ad-drefnu llywodraeth leol yn y gorllewin – syniad amgen?

Dyma lythyr yr wyf wedi sgrifennu at y Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus, sy’n cynnig syniad newydd posib ar gyfer ad-drefnu llywodraeth leol.

Annwyl Leighton

Ynglŷn ag: Ad-drefnu Llywodraeth Leol yn y gorllewin

‘Rwy’n ysgrifennu atoch i rannu rhai o fy syniadau ynglŷn â ffordd synhwyrol i edrych ar ffurf llywodraeth leol yn y gorllewin (yn bennaf yr hen Ddyfed) i’r dyfodol. Fy syniadau personol yw rhain fel Aelod Cynulliad yn yr ardal ac nid ydynt i’w dehongli yn cynrychioli barn ffurfiol Plaid Cymru.

Mae dwy egwyddor yn ganolog i fy ystyriaethau yn y llythyr yma:

1. Yr angen i greu model sy’n adlewyrchu realiti darparu gwasanaethau a democratiaeth mewn ardal wledig

2. Yr angen i sicrhau fod unrhyw ad-drefnu llywodraeth leol yn y dyfodol yn cryfhau, nid gwanhau, lle’r Gymraeg o fewn gweinyddiaeth a bywyd cyhoeddus ac yn adlewyrchu realiti cymdeithasol ac economaidd cymunedau Cymraeg.

Yn gyntaf, gaf i gyfeirio at Argymhelliad Adroddiad Williams, sef i ail-greu yr hen sir Dyfed neu i gyfuno Penfro a Cheredigion a chadw Shir Gâr. Rwyf eisoes wedi datgan fy ngwrthwynebiad i gyfuno Penfro a Cheredigion – ar sail y pellter a’r diffyg perthynas rhwng prif ganolfannau, megis Aberystwyth a Hwlffordd a Doc Penfro ac yn ogystal y peryg o wanhau y Gymraeg mewn gweinyddiaeth a darparu gwasanaethau, a fyddai’n debygol iawn o ddilyn cyfuno ardaloedd dwyieithog a naturiol Gymraeg gyda rhai, yn bennaf, Saesneg eu hiaith.

Mae gwell cyd-bwysedd economaidd, cymunedol ac ieithyddol i opsiwn arall Williams, sef yr hen Ddyfed. O ddewis rhwng y ddwy opsiwn yma yn unig, yna mae’r opsiwn Dyfed yn sicr yn rhagori ar yr opsiwn o Geredigion-Penfro. Er hyn, fel eraill, dwi’n pryderu y bydd ardaloedd mwy poblog a threfol ar hyd coridor M4-A40 yn dominyddu Cyngor o’r math yma, ac yn anwybyddu anghenion mwy gwledig. Dyna’n sicr oedd profiad rheiny fu’n glwm wrth yr hen Gyngor Sir Dyfed.

Barn Cyngor Sir Ceredigion, a Phlaid Cymru o fewn y Cyngor hynny, yw i gadw y Cyngor Sir fel endid ar wahân. Fe rydw i yn deall pam wrth gwrs – mae perfformiad y Cyngor yma, er bach ei faint, gyda’r gorau yng Nghymru, ac mewn ambell faes pwysig, y gorau yng Nghymru. Nid ar chwarae bach y dylid taflu hyn bant ac fe rydw i yn barod iawn i gefnogi cadw Cyngor Sir Ceredigion yn ei ffurf bresennol. Fe ellid adeiladu ar hyn a chreu model o gydweithrediad a phartneriaeth ffurfiol rhwng nifer o gynghorau bach, gwledig cyfochrog. Gellid defnyddio Uwch-Gyngor o’r math yma i ddarparu rhai gwasanaethau yn fwy effeithiol a strategol ar draws ardal ranbarthol, tra’n caniatáu cynghorau lleol i ddarparu a phenderfynu ar wasanaethau eraill yn fwy lleol. Gellid creu Uwch-Gyngor Rhanbarthol i adlewyrchu’r cymunedau arfordirol Cymraeg o Shir Fôn i Shir Gâr neu Uwch-Gyngor Rhanbarthol i gynnwys 4 Cyngor Ardal Powys a’r hen Ddyfed. Cynghorwyr o’r Cynghorau lleol fyddai’n ffurfio’r Uwch-Gyngor.

‘Rwy’n troi nawr at opsiwn newydd, ac un sydd yn fy marn i yn haeddu ystyriaeth a thrafodaeth yng nghyd-destun y gorllewin – sef, rhannu yr hen Ddyfed rhwng y de a’r gogledd yn hytrach na rhwng y gorllewin a’r dwyrain. O wneud hyn, ni fyddai ffiniau presennol Ceredigion, Penfro na Shir Gâr yn cael eu cadw yn eu ffurf bresennol. Fe fyddid yn creu dwy sir newydd:

  1. Ceredigion yn llawn, gogledd Sir Benfro a gogledd Shir Gar
  2. De Shir Gâr a de Sir Benfro.

At bwrpas y llythyr yma, galwaf un Cyngor yn Gogledd Dyfed a’r llall yn De Dyfed

I bob pwrpas byddai Gogledd Dyfed yn Gyngor a fyddai’n cynnwys y cylchoedd gwledig o gwmpas yr hen drefi marchnad a chanolfannau gwasanaeth:

Llanymddyfri

Llanbedr Pont Steffan

Llandysul

Castell Newydd Emlyn

Crymych

Aberteifi

Aberaeron

Tregaron

Aberystwyth

Gan ddibynnu beth yw’r bwriad gyda’r Powys presennol, fe ellid ychwanegu yr ardal o gwmpas Machynlleth hefyd i’r Cyngor newydd yma. Mi fyddai hyn yn cynnwys 6 ward o Gyngor Shir Gâr, 4 ward o Gyngor Sir Benfro, 2 ward o Bowys a 42 ward o Geredigion. Cyfanswm o 54 ward. Y cyfanswm o etholwyr fyddai 76,492 (heb gynnwys dan18 oed). Gellid ychwanegu at faint y Cyngor yma ymhellach drwy ystyried cynnwys ardaloedd Abergwaun a/neu Llandeilo.

Mantais yr opsiwn yma fyddai i greu dau gyngor sy’n adlewyrchu’n well y gwahaniaethau gwledig a’r gwahaniaethau ieithyddol o fewn yr hen Ddyfed. Mae canran y siaradwyr Cymraeg yng ngogledd yr hen Ddyfed yn sylweddol uwch nag yn y de ac felly fe ellid creu Cyngor sy’n gwasanaethu a gweinyddu yn naturiol yn Gymraeg. Byddwn yn disgwyl i Gyngor De Dyfed hefyd weithredu yn ddwyieithog. Mae yna fudd ieithyddol o greu Gogledd a De Dyfed, ond hefyd mae yna agweddau cyffredin a pherthynas hanesyddol clos rhwng cymunedau y Tywi a’r Teifi a chynunedau dyffryn Teifi a’r Preseli. Rhaniad gweinyddol yn unig a fu’r Teifi erioed ac mae’r cymunedau yma yn naturiol agos i’w gilydd – o ran patrwm economaidd, cymdeithasol ac addysgiadol.

Os bydd newid ffiniau cynghorau lleol yn y gorllewin, yna mae’r opsiwn i ffurfio Gogledd Dyfed a De Dyfed yn sicr yn haeddu ystyriaeth o ddifri’. Mae’n sicr yn fwy radical na’r hyn sydd wedi ei grybwyll hyd yn hyn, ac, yn fy marn i, mae’n fwy cynaliadwy a chynrychiadol o realiti economaidd a chymdeithasol yr ardal.

Byddaf yn rhannu’r llythyr yma yn helaeth er mwyn sbarduno trafodaeth ar y pwnc.

Yn gywir

Elin Jones AC

 

Victory for Cardi Bach campaign

 

With the Cardi Bach campaigners in Cwmtydu

With the Cardi Bach campaigners in Cwmtydu

The campaign to restore the Cardi Bach bus service along the coast of southern Ceredigion, which stopped in the autumn when European funding came to an end, has scored a major victory.

In a letter to me last night Welsh Government Transport Minister has announced that direct funding will be provided to restore the Cardi Bach service.

The Transport Minister has also pledged to support south Ceredigion’s Bwcabus service during the period of financial uncertainty in between rounds of European funding.

This is fantastic news, and a great victory for the campaign led by local people and tourism operators along the Ceredigion coast.

After meeting with the campaigners and representatives of the local authority last year, we were all united that no stone should be left unturned to try to secure a bus service in this area. In particular, I was determined to try to persuade the Welsh Government of the case for the Cardi Bach, and raised the matter in the Assembly on several occasions.

I’m delighted that the Transport Minister has recognised the value of this route, and of the importance of tourism along the coastal path. The Cardi Bach was a very important service. It provided a vital link for walkers and other tourists in south Ceredigion, and a lifeline for many communities who don’t otherwise have any public transport connections.

There are still some details to be ironed out concerning the exact route and timetable of a restored Cardi Bach service, but I’m sure many people in places such as New Quay, Cwmtydu and Llangrannog will be delighted by this news.

Buddugoliaeth i ymgyrch y Cardi Bach

Mae’r ymgyrch i adfer gwasanaeth fysiau’r Cardi Bach ar hyd arfordir godre Ceredigion wedi ennill buddugoliaeth bwysig.

Mewn llythyr i fi neithiwr cyhoeddodd Gweinidog Trafnidiaeth Cymru y byddai’r Llywodraeth yn darparu cyllid uniongyrchol er mwyn adfer y bws.

Hefyd, rhoddodd y Gweinidog addewid o gefnogaeth ariannol i’r gwasanaeth Bwcabus yn ne Ceredigion yn ystod y cyfnod ansicr rhwng dwy rownd o gyllid Ewropeaidd.

Dyma newyddion gwych, a buddugoliaeth haeddiannol i ymgyrch a arweiniwyd gan drigolion lleol a busnesau twristiaeth ar hyd arfordir Ceredigion.

Ar ôl cyfarfod gydag ymgyrchwyr a chynrychiolwyr o’r awdurdod lleol y llynedd, roeddem yn unfryd y dylem geisio pob ffynhonnell bosib o gyllid er mwyn adfer gwasanaeth bws yn yr ardal. Roeddwn i yn benderfynol o berswadio Llywodraeth Cymru o bwysigrwydd y Cardi Bach, a chodais y mater yn y Cynulliad ar sawl achlysur.

Rwy’ wrth fy modd fod y Gweinidog Trafnidiaeth wedi cydnabod gwerth y gwasanaeth yma, a phwysigrwydd twristiaeth ar hyd llwybr yr arfordir. Roedd y Cardi Bach yn darparu cyswllt pwysig iawn i gerddwyr ac ymwelwyr eraill i dde Ceredigion, ac hefyd mae yna nifer o gymunedau yn yr ardal sydd heb gyswllt trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus.

Mi fydd rhai manylion angen eu trafod am union lwybr ac amserlen y Cardi Bach, ond rwy’n sicr y bydd pobl mewn ardaloedd fel Cei Newydd, Cwmtydu a Llangrannog wrth eu bodd gyda’r newyddion yma.

Gydag ymgyrchwyr bws y Cardi Bach yng Nghwmtydu

Gydag ymgyrchwyr bws y Cardi Bach yng Nghwmtydu

Cardigan flooding – have your say

Natural Resources Wales are holding a series of drop-in sessions for people to give their views on the flooding situation in Cardigan. This comes following a lively public meeting in December, at which it was clear that many people had invaluable information to share. It is hoped that this information will feed into the process of formulating a much-needed flood prevention scheme across three agencies, which will deal with surface, drainage, and tidal flooding.

All are welcome to attend.

Damaging floods happen all too often in parts of Cardigan

Damaging floods happen all too often in parts of Cardigan

Times are as follows:

WEEK ONE:

Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 3.30p.m

Wed 21st - 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 7.00p.m (late session)

WEEK TWO:

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 3.30p.m

Thurs 29th – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 7.00p.m (late session)

VENUE: Ceredigion County Council Offices, Morgan Street, Cardigan.

 

Llifogydd yn Aberteifi – dweud eich dweud

Bydd Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yn cynnal pythefnos o sesiynau ‘galw-i-fewn’, i glywed gan bobl sydd a gwybodaeth am lifogydd yn y dre. Mae hyn yn rhan o broses o ffurfio cynllun newydd fydd yn gwella’r sefyllfa, ac yn dod yn sgil cyfarfod cyhoeddus bywiog ym mis Rhagfyr lle daeth hi’n amlwg fod gan nifer fawr o bobl wybodaeth werthfawr i’w gyfrannu.

Estynir croeso mawr i bawb i fynychu o Ionawr 19 ymlaen:

WYTHNOS UN:

Llun, Mawrth, Iau, Gwener – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 3.30p.m

Mercher 21 - 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 7.00p.m (sesiwn hwyr)

WYTHNOS DAU:

Llun, Mawrth, Mercher, Gwener – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 3.30p.m

Iau 29 – 10a.m – 12.30p.m, 1.30p.m – 7.00p.m (sesiwn hwyr)

LLEOLIAD – swyddfeydd y Cyngor, Morgan Street, Aberteifi

 

The Tivyside – the Teifi valley’s Voice for 148years

newspapers_tivyside

 

Today may well be the last day a Tivyside Editor will sit in a Cardigan office and decide on the stories and news that will fill the next edition’s paper.  148 years of history will be lost overnight and this particular  story will probably not feature on the front page of next week’s Tivyside. Yes, the paper will continue, but will be edited from Haverfordwest and with a reduced presence in Cardigan.  Newsquest, the owner of the Tivyside title, has taken this decision from afar with little reference to history or community.

 

The Tivyside is an intrinsic part of the Cardigan area’s identity.  Y Teifiseid, as it is known in Welsh, oozes the area’s rurality and spirit.  It doesn’t happen unless it’s in the Teifiseid! Over the years, I wonder how many conversations have started on the streets of Cardigan or in the garages of Cenarth or Penparc with the sentence, Chi wedi gweld be’ sydd yn y Teifiseid heddi? Have you seen what’s  in the Tivyside today?

Newsquest’s decision to centralise editorial control and downgrade the presence in Cardigan will mean that the paper’s finger will no longer be on Cardigan’s pulse.  The paper also strongly  looks to Ceredigion, not Pembrokeshire, and I fear that this Ceredigion focus will also weaken.

 

The Teifiseid has also been a strong campaigning paper, most recently on issues such as the Hospital, the Castle, the Tesco Junction.  To be a campaigning paper requires a strong Editorial leadership and a strong sense of an area’s priorities. This also will be far more difficult from afar.

 

The paper is not however ceasing to exist and therefore we can but hope that its identity, its local news, its Cardigan spirit will not be entirely lost.  Let’s thank Sue for all her work for the paper over the past years and wish her well in her future.  And for today, let’s mark the fact that Cardigan and the area is losing one of its fixtures – the Tivyside Editor.

 

Elin Jones