Council merger plans could mean chaos

Today, the Welsh Government has announced plans which could see local authorities merged into eight councils. Under the plans, Ceredigion would be merged with Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, in an arrangement similar to the old Dyfed County Council.

The plans announced by the Public Services Minister are an amended version of the plans in the Williams Commission Report for 10-12 merged councils, and have already been severely criticised by many within his own party.

I fear that we’re in danger of a botched reorganisation of local government, which will distract councils at a time when they’re coping with serious cuts, and won’t deal with major challenges such as integrating health and social care.

By just merging the existing local authorities, these plans miss an opportunity to engage with real reform. There are an immense number of regional public bodies, operating on different boundaries, dealing with such issues as health, fire, education and much more besides. Many of these could be made more accountable, and reforming them would help to integrate key functions such as health and social services.

Plaid Cymru’s alternative plans would aim at better integration and accountability for regional services, abolishing educational consortia,  reforming health boards and pooling back office functions, without forcing councils through a reorganisation at a time of cuts, and without increasing the numbers of councillors or officers.

Merging the three counties of south-west Wales back into Dyfed, while leaving the broader problems unaddressed, is unlikely to be a good deal for Ceredigion.

The Labour Welsh Government needs to re-think these proposals. They’re a recipe for chaos, and voters will have the chance to pass judgement on them next May.

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Cynlluniau i uno cynghorau yn llanast

Heddiw, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi cyhoeddi cynlluniau all arwain at uno cynghorau lleol yn wyth awdurdod. O dan y cynllun, byddai Ceredigion yn cael ei gyfuno gyda Sir Benfro a Sir Gaerfyrddin, yn debyg i’r hen Gyngor Sir Dyfed.

Mae’r cynlluniau a gyhoeddwyd gan y Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus yn fersiwn ddiwygiedig o argymhellion Comisiwn Williams am gyfuno er mwyn ffurfio 10-12 awdurdod, ac yn barod mae nifer o fewn ei blaid ei hun wedi ei feirniadu’n chwyrn.

Rwy’n teimlo ein bod mewn peryg o ad-drefnu mewn modd hollol anfoddhaol. Mae’r potensial yma i dynnu sylw cynghorau ar adeg pan eu bont yn wynebu toriadau anferth, ac nid yw’r cynlluniau’n delio a phynciau pwysig fel integreiddio iechyd a gofal cymdeithasol.

Trwy gyfuno cynghorau, mae’r cynlluniau’n methu cyfle i ddiwygio go iawn. Mae na nifer anferth o fyrddau rhanbarthol, ar ffiniau amrywiol, yn delio gyda materion fel iechyd, tan, addysg a nifer o bethau eraill. Gellid gwneud rhain yn fwy atebol, a byddai eu diwygio yn helpu integreiddio gwasanaethau craidd fel iechyd.

Byddai cynlluniau amgen Plaid Cymru yn anelu at fwy o integreiddio ac atebolrwydd i wasanaethau rhanbarthol, gan gael gwared ar gonsortia addysg, diwygio byrddau iechyd a rhannu gwasanaethau cymorth, heb orfodi cynghorau i uno ar adeg o doriadau, ac heb gynyddu’r nifer o gynghorwyr.

Byddai cyfuno tair awdurdod ac ail-ffurfio Dyfed, tra’n methu diwygio’n ehangach, yn anhebygol o fod yn ffafriol i Geredigion.

Mae angen ail-feddwl y cynlluniau yma. Maent yn debygol o arwain at anhrefn, a bydd gan etholwyr y cyfle i basio barn arnynt fis Mai nesa.

The e-cigarettes debate

There’s a lot of attention in the media over the Welsh Government’s intention to bring in a ban on e-cigarettes in public places as part of its Public Health Bill.

This is a controversial part of the measure, and one that I feel needs a lot more thought.

The National Assembly now needs to consider all of the evidence that relates to the effect of e-cigarettes on public health, most of which is newly-emerging. E-cigarettes are used widely by people who are trying to give up smoking, so we should be very careful not to halt that trend. We cannot risk these people reverting to tobacco cigarettes from e-cigarettes.

The Health Minister must now set out clearly what evidence there is to prove that a ban on using e-cigarettes will have a beneficial impact, and I will be seeking for the Health Committee to take the widest possible range of evidence on this before coming to its conclusions. Public health legislation must be reserved for measures where there is incontrovertible evidence that public harm is being done.

Cynlluniau’r Llywodraeth am e-sigarets

Mae dipyn o sylw yn y wasg heddiw i fwriad Llywodraeth Cymru i wahardd e-sigarets mewn mannau cyhoeddus fel rhan o’r Ddeddf Iechyd Cyhoeddus arfaethedig.

Rwy’n teimlo fod angen pwyllo, a gwneud yn sicr nad yw’r Llywodraeth am gymryd cam gwag.

Mae angen i’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn awr ystyried yr holl dystiolaeth am effeithiau e-sigarets ar iechyd cyhoeddus; megis dechrau ymddangos y mae’r rhan fwyaf o’r dystiolaeth. Mae e-sigarets yn cael eu defnyddio yn helaeth gan bobl sy’n ceisio rhoi’r gorau i smygu, felly fe ddylem fod yn ofalus iawn rhag atal y duedd hon.

Rhaid i’r Gweinidog Iechyd yn awr ddatgan yn glir pa dystiolaeth sydd i brofi y bydd gwahardd e-sigarets yn cael effaith llesol, a byddaf yn gofyn i’r Pwyllgor Iechyd gymryd y dystiolaeth ehangaf bosib ar hyn cyn dod i gasgliadau. Rhaid cadw deddfwriaeth iechyd cyhoeddus ar gyfer mesurau lle mae tystiolaeth ddiamheuol fod niwed cyhoeddus yn cael ei wneud.

Y gwasanaeth trenau newydd / The new train services

Ar ol 10 mlynedd o ymgyrch – o’r diwedd dyma’r gwasanaeth amlach ar linell y Cambrian yn cychwyn heddiw. Roedd yn wych cael bod yno gyda phawb sydd wedi gwneud gymaint i wireddu’r addewid. Mae’n 8 mlynedd bellach ers i Ieuan Wyn Jones, y cyn weinidog trafnidiaeth, benderfynu gwario ar uwchraddio’r llinell, ond gyda gobaith fydd yn werth yr aros. Bydd y gwasanaeth newydd yn hwb pwysig i economi ardal Aberystwyth a’r brifysgol.

After a 10-year campaign – at last the more frequent service on the Cambrian line is a reality. It was great to be there with everyone who has done so much to ensure that the promises were fulfilled. It’s 8 years since Ieuan Wyn Jones took the decision as Transport Minister to invest in upgrading the line, but hopefully it’ll be worth the wait. The improved service should be a boost for the economy of the Aberystwyth area and the university

Gydag ymgyrchwyr y rheilffordd yn dathlu'r gwasanaethau newydd.  With campaigners celebrating the new train services

Gydag ymgyrchwyr y rheilffordd yn dathlu’r gwasanaethau newydd.
With campaigners celebrating the new train services

Good news for Tregaron

I’ve just received a piece of good news. The Cylch Caron Health and Social care project has been given Ministerial approval to progress to its final stage plan. The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford AM, has today confirmed this in a letter to me. A major hurdle in this project’s development has now been successfully overcome. This approval now releases funds to Ceredigion Council to draw up the final plans for the new hospital, primary and social care project. The Cylch Caron project will be a beacon project for the full integration of health and social care for the elderly in the Tregaron area. At last, there is momentum and Ministerial support behind this project. It is no longer a question of whether, but when, and I hope that the project design can progress quickly now so that construction may start in a matter of months.

Newyddion da i Dregaron

Dwi newydd dderbyn darn o newyddion da. Mae Cynllun Gofal Iechyd a Chymdeithasol Cylch Caron wedi derbyn sel bendith y Gweinidog Iechyd i symud ymlaen i’r cam terfynnol. Heddiw, fe gadarnhaodd Mark Drakeford hyn mewn llythyr i mi. Mae rhwystr mawr wedi ei oresgyn. Mae’r penderfyniad yma yn rhyddhau cyllid wrth Lywodraeth Cymru i’r Cyngor Sir i ddatblygu cynlluniau terfynnol i’r ysbyty newydd a’r ganofan feddygol a gofal cymdeithasol. Bydd cynnlun Cylch Caron yn fodel arloesol o integreiddiad gofal iechyd a chymdeithasol llawn i henoed ardal Tregaron. O’r diwedd mae yna wynt yn hwyliau’r cynllun yma, yn ogystal a sel bendith gweinidogol. Gobeithio nawr y gall y dylunio symud yn ei flaen ar fyrder ac y gwelwn gychwyn ar yr adeiladu o fewn mater o fisoedd.