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April 27, 2008

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paulflynn

You must drop in more often,
You would regularly read positive exciting thing about Newport. You will find it a bracing antidote to the misery mongering.

paulflynn

Thanks Rob.

I am sure you are correct if that voters do like change - even if it's against their best interest. Change would be damaging in Newport and London. The congestion charge was not a popular move but it has wonderfully eased congestion, improve vastly the use of public transport and substantiially cut pollution. It will be copied all over the world. It was an act of leadership and courage against the foolish views of the Evening Standard and the public. A triumph for Ken.


Your bet on the next general election in Newport West would be a rash. There is two years to go - a very long time in politics.

Rob

An interesting article, but unfortunately it is always the case that local councillors are punished for their Government's failures. It happened under the last Tory Government and now under Labour. Local elections have become a forum for discontent rather than focusing on the local issues for which the local councillors have responsibility. Are the voters cannier? The fact is that there is no enthusiasm for Labour in Newport on the doorsteps and the reality is that the Council is heading for No Overal Control on Thursday with Labour losing its mandate to run the city. This has nothing to do with anything David Cameron has said, but rather that people generally feel that Labour has not delivered locally and nationally. As for Ken Livingstone there are many more things that people want to hammer him for, including his undemocratic congestion charge that has been manipulated into a pollution charge, the way his administration has been embroiled in allegations of wrongdoing, the increase in crime in London, feeling unsafe on buses nowadays and just the fact that Livingstone seems to believe that he is bigger than London itself and can do whatever he wants. I guess that voters just get tired after a while and look for a change. The political cycle is favouring the Tories again and Labour politicians at all levels will pay the price rightly or wrongly. If I were a betting man I would be down at the bookies putting on a double bet - Newport to go to NOC on Thursday and Newport West to turn blue at the next General Election. Only time will tell if I'm right.

paulflynn

Oliver, you are absolutely wrong.
There are more green spaces in Ringland now that when I was a
councillor there in the seventies.

The star-shaped blocks have been knocked down and new green space have
been created. Understandably there are local objections to certain
infilling projects which the LibDems have seized on as a piece of
political opportunism.
To the their great credit Labour has been selling council houses since
the sixties - decades before Thatcher. In was done much to create mixed
communities- the positive policy that progressive Newport adopted
before any other Welsh Councils. This has shaped the character of our
Council estate and avoided the rundown seen in other cities. One tenure estates elsewhere have rapidly deteriorted.

Labour's interest in Ringland and our other estates is a continuing one
- not just for a single election campaign. The other points you make are domestic ones for the council. I have not been a member for many years and I cannot comment.

But they seem superficial compared with the successes of the council. libDems are known for 'pavement politcs - exploiting small issues. This is piffle artist politics and raises the question of whether you can see the big picture. In my 34 years as an elected representative in the city I have never been more optimistic than now. A great deal of that is due to the work of the Council. open your eyes to a marvellous renewed city with a great future.

I have no great disgreements with Libdems but I am worried at the possibility of some the other candidates gaining positions of power and influence in the city.

Oliver

There are many people in areas like Ringland who would disagree with you about the green spaces. A lot of local residents there protested angrily about the building on their open land. Their protests were ignored.

Your point is taken about the heavier traffic use on the main roads, but it is still a horrible fact that Newport Council pays more in compensation due to injuries caused by poor pavements, than it does in actually repairing them!

I'd still be interested in your views on some of my other points, expressed a little less polemically below:

- Councillors' allowances
- Democratic accountability in the Council
- Neglect (or failure to recognise problems in many areas) of local facilities

There are many other points I could make.

And I should add, these aren't the "perverse" views of "negative" politicking, these are worrying concerns often raised by Newport residents. As a Liberal Democrat (I'm not sure if I revealed that earlier, but I'm sure my bias shows through! Sorry!) we didn't pull these concerns out of a cynical hat, we heard these concerns from people on the ground. The Liberal Democrats in Newport have always been ready to support the Labour Council when they do admirable things (the recycling plans, for instance). We don't do opposition for opposition's sake. But there are real questions to be answered, as I said before.

I applaud Newport's green accolades. I'm personally not the sort of person to known the city I've grown up in, or its Council, for things its done right. But applauding the right things that have been done shouldn't blind us to the bad things that have been done.

To invert your above comment slightly, isn't your comment typical of the naively positive view that blinds the local Labour party from recognising some fundamental injustices and failures in the city?

paulflynn

Your comment is typical of the negative view that blinds the politically perverse from recognising the achievments of the best council in Wales.

The reasons that main roads are being repaired is because they carry 20 times the traffic of outlying roads.

The city has never been is better shape. More people working and few unemployed, a new boulevard opening in a renewed heart of the city. we will all benefit from hosting a world event here.

Most of the new build is on brown field
land on the old town dock site. hundreds of new homes are nos built on sites that were factories a few years ago. Afon village is built on a brownfield power station site.

The Libdems have no realistic chance of getting a majority. There is no sign of any campaigns in Newport West, just paper candidates.

Newport has won national accolades for its green waste policies including the recycling that's possible with fortnightly collections. the Tories will reverse that.
Plus lots more.

Oliver

The Labour Party have been in control of Newport for 29 years. During that time, through grossly negligent fiscal policy, roads and pavements have virtually disintegrated, the city has been allowed to run-down, and the people of Newport have grown increasingly fed up of being taken for granted.

Accepting of course, that the regeneration succeeds, aren't there serious questions to be asked as to why the money from the Welsh Assembly has been used to resurface main roads (i.e, those seen by visotors to the Ryder Cup) and not those on the outskirts?

Aren't there serious questions as to why we pay amongst the lowest council tax rates in the UK, but pay our councillors amongst the highest allowances?

Aren't there serious questions as to why the Council in Newport is governed in an autocratic, undemocratic manner (i.e, the average councillor being unable to vote on matters because of the Cabinet structure of government the Labour Council has chosen)?

Aren't there serious questions as to the lack of consultation this Labour Council provides, when reaching important decisions?

Aren't there serious questions to be asked about the poorer areas in Newport being allowed to atrophy (i.e, Ringland's shops closing down and as a result, its sense of community being crushed)?

Aren't there serious questions to be asked about the continued building in Newport, on green spaces (incidentally, a policy that puts the lie to your claim that the Labour Council is committed to green issues)?

You also mention the Tories, but I note you do not mention the Liberal Democrats. A far more serious threat to decades of Labour dominance and arrogance in control of Newport. And might I add, a serious threat based not only on angry opposition, but a series of well-thought-out policies that can really help Newport.

I have a great respect for you personally, Paul, but I'm afraid the Labour councillors in Newport (as a group) have a lot to answer for. And it is their record in Newport they will answer for this Thursday, not electioneering by David Cameron.

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