“BULLY-BOY” WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT FORCES VALE TO APPROVE EXCESSIVE HOUSING

Welsh Labour Minister Lesley Griffiths (left) in a letter read to the Vale Council by Deputy Leader Jonathan Bird (right) – forces the newly elected Conservative council to do what it’s told and adopt the contentious and highly damaging Local Development Plan left behind by the former Labour administration in the Vale

In the first full  meeting of the new Conservative-controlled Vale of Glamorgan council, members were told last night that the Welsh Labour Government would step-in and force the council to adopt the contentious LDP [Local Development Plan]  prepared by the previous Labour administration in the Vale.

The much criticised Labour Local Development Plan has now had to be adopted by the new Vale Conservative Council

The LDP  – concocted by the previous Labour-run council –  is wrongly based on what are now accepted as over-inflated, inaccurate and wildly-exaggerated estimates for the number of new houses (social housing and private housing) which will be required in the Vale of Glamorgan over the next few years.

Cllr John Thomas Conservative Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

On taking office, the Leader of the new Conservative administration on the Vale Council  Cllr John Thomas had written to the Welsh Government expressing concern about the so-called “housing supply” figures in the Labour LDP and the dubious population projections on which they were supposed to have been based.  Mr Thomas had demanded that the  Welsh Labour Government cut the projected number of new houses deemed to be required in the Vale by 1,500 dwellings. (See http://tinyurl.com/y9oxrff5 )

Cllr Thomas got short shrift from the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay and from  Labour Government Minister – Lesley Griffiths . In a formal letter read to councillors last night,  Ms Griffiths said she will not allow any extra time  – or any changes –  in the previous administration’s document  and has told the new Vale Council that “I expect you to adhere to your statutory duty and adopt the LDP by the 20th of July ” .

The new Conservative administration took over the Vale of Glamorgan Council after the May 4th local government elections. Many local residents voted Conservative because they did not want the excessive new housing development, choked roads, overcrowded schools and increased strain on medical facilities which the exaggerated estimates of the Labour LDP would bring about.

The clash with Cardiff Bay was being seen as a test of the mettle of the new Vale Council and whether it would stand up to – what Deputy Leader Cllr Jonathan Bird last night described as the “bully boy tactics” of the  Welsh Labour Government.

The Vale Council  however was warned last night if it did NOT adopt the Labour LDP, then the  Welsh Labour Government  had  “default powers to intervene and to approve the LDP on behalf of the council” and, what’s more, would charge the council £150,000 for one of their inspectors to carry out this work on behalf of the council.

Plaid Cymru Leader Cllr Ian Johnson moved an amendment to challenge the Welsh Government – but it was defeated

Plaid Cymru leader on the Vale Council – Cllr Ian Johnson – criticised the Conservative administration for not issuing members copies of the Welsh Government Lesley Griffiths letter ahead last night’s meeting. He also noted that Conservative Leader Cllr John Thomas had to absent himself from the meeting [ because of conflict of interest]. Cllr Johnson said it was a “shambles” and not a great start for the new administration.

He said the LDP was the result of 11 years of work and had cost £3,000,000 but successive council leaderships had ignored the gap in the heart of the plan – caused by the recession which had begun in 2007 which had reduced economic growth and population change in the Vale . He said the economic backdrop had changed so much, Plaid Cymru could not accept the current  LDP .

Cllr Johnson said the Welsh Government’s own housing projections issued in 2014 projected not the 10,000 houses required in the LDP, but just 5,600 houses.   Subsequent Welsh Government housing projections came out even lower this  year (2017) forecasting that from 2011 t0 2026 only 4,000 more houses would be needed in the Vale – not the 10,000 figure in the LDP.

Cllr Johnson also criticised the lack of any infrastructure improvements in the LDP to ease the pressure on roads – and noted that the long-hoped-for Dinas Powys By Pass was not included in the LDP.

Cllr Johnson said the Vale Council was being “bullied by Cardiff Bay” and said that the Vale Council should ignore the Welsh Labour Government  – and he proposed an amendment  recommending that  the Welsh Office inspector should re-consider housing levels and transport infrastucture for South East Glamorgan.

However  both Labour and Conservative councillors voted against the Plaid amendment. Labour Vale councillors weren’t going to oppose their Labour masters in Cardiff Bay and the Conservative councillors voted it down because they knew that if they didn’t adopt the LDP, the Welsh Labour Government would step-in and pass it anyway.

The LDP was then – for all its inaccurate population estimates  – formally adopted by another majority vote.

It was a testing first council meeting for all concerned including Leader Cllr John Thomas (standing) and the new Mayor Cllr Janice Charles (behind him)

It was not a great first night in the council chamber for the new administration . Conservative cabinet members seemed hesitant and lacking in confidence. Cllr John Bird apologised to members for “getting a bit mixed up” in spelling out the complexities of the LDP adoption and had to quickly order copies of the Lesley Griffiths letter from Welsh Government to be provided to members  – which should have been available at an earlier briefing .

Chairing the meeting was the new Conservative mayor – Janice Charles – who ordered a vote to be carried out by “recorded delivery[ she perhaps meant to say a “recorded vote”] and then voted “for the amendment” – even though votes were being taken at the time for the substantive motion.

Conservative Leader John Thomas said he took “full responsibility for the mess up  in Item 3A “ [ there was no such item on the agenda]  and also apologised on behalf of his administration for  [at the council’s AGM]   “erroneously  appointing a chairman and vice chairman to the  Joint Consultative Forum – contrary to the constitution of the JCF”   

One former insider said afterwards “Voters who elected the Conservative administration into power may well have been hoping the new Tory-led council would put on a rather better show than this of opposing Labour and standing up for the interests of local residents.”

 

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14 Responses to “BULLY-BOY” WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT FORCES VALE TO APPROVE EXCESSIVE HOUSING

  1. I think that it is worth commenting on the plaid amendment. The thought that a planning inspector who has just spent 18 months examining the LDP before declaring it as sound, is, within one or two months of delivering that verdict somehow miraculously going come up with a different conclusion if asked to examine it again is clearly ludicrous.

    I voted against the LDP because of for me the ridiculously inflated housing numbers contained within it, their location and the obvious lack of infrastructure in place or planned to deal with the increase. others voted in favour for their own reasons.

    Interesting to observe during such an important debate on the future of the Vale and the implictations for it’s residents, the Penarth labour councillor sat in the row in front of me putting to good use the shiny new council issued laptop issued to all councillors and designed to cut down on paperwork.

    I’m not entirely sure how much Vale of Glamorgan LDP information and detail is contained on the BBC news website, The BBC sports website pages, Moneysavingexpert.com mortgage offers pages, email pages, back to moneysavingexpert.com mortgage offers and back to Emails whilst the debate raged on but I’m sure that ward residents are delighted that their hard earned and handed over council tax payments are being put to such good use during council meetings and that their local councillor is able to multi task so effectively whilst weighing up the pros and cons of such an important decision.

    • Mr a p misstum says:

      Who is the p taking idiot. You refer to please
      ? We may want to engage.

      • To be fair

        I can only assume that aforementioned councillor was diligently using the new council laptop to research seagull proof bin bags for a later section of the meeting and accidently strayed onto the BBC News, Sports, Moneysavingexpert.com (twice) and Email pages (twice) whilst doing so.

        I’m sure that some council ratepayers will be pleased that their hard earned council funded new resources are being utilised to their full effect 24 hours a day even during extremely important debates on other matters.

        After all isn’t this what the Vale of Glamorgan County council purchased these expensive laptops and accompanying Samsung smartphones to every councillor for?

    • Philip Rapier says:

      I never expected anyone to have the courage to stand up to them Tory/Independent they are all the same, equally weak. Plaid’s Johnson is the only one with a backbone and room to manouvre.
      Westminster ,Teresa May and her we’ve been DUPed coalition are the bullies.
      It works like this!! The Tories in Westminster will cut Labour/ Griffith’s in Cardiff Bay’s share of the rate support grant if they don’t build the spurious houses for migrant EU Labour (who won’t be coming now post BREXIT anyway and are already starting to leave)
      That cut in Rate Support means less for looking after your aged Granny so Teresa can grab her house to pay for her care home fees. This traps Labour into complying.
      We in Penarth/Sully/Dinas need to find grounds for a Public Inquiry to stop the Houses.

      • To be honest Phillip I have over some considerable length of time considered and now and again attempted to decipher your many, mainly incoherent unintelligible rants on this website but perhaps it’s now time to start taking you to task occasionally

        I’ll start with pointing out the contents of my earlier comments in which I mention that I voted against the LDP and I also think it worth mentioning that the LDP was the one concocted and presented by your beloved Labour party whose representatives voted it through en bloc last night.

        If I am ever able or moved to unravel the rationale behind any more of your virtually impenetrable musings I shall do so on an ad hoc basis.

        Thanks for your input.

        Kevin Mahoney

  2. Anne Greagsby says:

    Weak and wobbly – that’s the new Vale Council – failing on the first hurdle they encounter. Cllr Johnson is right to say the Vale Council is being “bullied by Cardiff Bay” and that they should ignore the Welsh Labour Gov. Why didn’t they support the amendment recommending that the Welsh Office inspector should re-consider housing levels and transport infrastructure for South East Glamorgan? After all the promises to overturn the LDP…..

  3. BluesMan says:

    Mind boggles how this LDP can go ahead when the figures inside it are clearly wrong! This is clearly the welsh assembly forcing it through so people turn on the now conservative vale council.

  4. Mr a p misstum says:

    Leslie Griffith’s is nothing but a jumped up clown. VoG is there any way to resist?

  5. Local Eye says:

    So much for local democracy. Nobody wants this on their doorstep but it’s coming to a green field close to you.
    No planned expenditure on better roads, health, education, transport. It’s all about the money. Disgraceful.

  6. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    Shall we camp out on the intended building sites?

  7. Chris Franks says:

    So where does this leave the Conservative promise of a Dinas Powys By Pass and fewer houses?

  8. rodtharrod says:

    Before ranting on about the by-pass perhaps former Vale Councillor Chris Franks should either watch Council proceedings on the in-house TV system or check with his Plaid Cymru colleagues what actually said regarding the
    LDP at the full council meeting on Wednesday evening. Or he could read an accurate report of parts of the meeting on this very site.
    FACT: The Vale Council was warned by the Labour controlled Assembly government that ‘if it did NOT adopt the Labour LDP, then the Welsh Labour Government had “default powers to intervene and to approve the LDP on behalf of the council” – and, what’s more, would charge the council £150,000 for one of their inspectors to carry out this work on behalf of the council.’
    I don’t know where to begin with Mr Philip Rapier’s comments. The Rate Support Grant is money paid to a Council by the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government and has NOTHING to do with the Westminster Government.
    Westminster pays a block figure to the Assembly who themselves alone decide who gets what and for what.
    The people who have clearly set a trap are the Labour-led Assembly Government who are currently propped up by a sole Liberal Democrat and
    were previously in coalition with Plaid Cymru.
    I would seriously question the action of the Assembly’s threat constitutionally. If I read the situation correctly Labour have created law that states one political party can start putting into place major policy agreements that bind future councils for 15 years, regardless of who is in control of the council at any time. Is this democracy Wales-style?
    In answer to Chris Franks’ aside about the By-Pass I can assure him (as Chair of the By-Pass Steering Group) that things are progressing apace on many fronts. In answer to a question from Dinas Powys Vale Councillor Vince Driscoll at Wednesday’s Council meeting the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning confirmed that the By-Pass is a priority in the Vale Conservative manifesto and he assured that the fact it was left out of the LDP has little bearing on the reality of the situation.
    The LDP is, after all, a plan that doesn’t prevent other projects, large or small, happening during its life.
    I must say I’m beginning to wonder if Chris Franks has ever or does now want a by-pass for the village to which he was re-elected as a Community Councillor two months ago?

    • Colin Davies says:

      So, when is work starting on the bypass? Also how much will it cost and who’s paying for it?

  9. rodtharrod says:

    If you follow the entries on the Dinas Powys By Pass Facebook page or website you’d know that the process is not a short one (we all wish it was).

    For a project of this size to proceed it must go through the WelTAG (Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance) process laid down by the Welsh Government. This is a five stage process.

    Stage 1 started in January with consultants Arcadis being appointed to scope the transport corridor through Dinas Powys. They were given a £15,000 grant jointly paid by the Welsh Government and the Vale Council to carry out this process. It is understood their report is currently in the hands of Vale Officers prior to being presented to the Vale Cabinet – probably in two weeks time. The Cabinet will then select one or more concepts (we understand the by-pass to be top of the Cabinet’s priority) to move to a thorough scoping in Stage 2. £60,000 was allocated by the previous Cabinet in March for this process.

    It is only when the final way forward has been decided that the end choice will be fully costed and whatever is decided moves forward to it happening in Stage 4 and then assessed in Stage 5. No time lengths are given on any stage, noting the first stage is not yet complete after six months.

    It is expected the by-pass will be funded by the Welsh Road Fund but there is a possibility some funds could come from the £1.1 billion Cardiff Capital City Region project. £800 million of this is for the Cardiff Metro project, a partnership of ten councils. The last Vale Council signed Vale ratepayers to be paying over £10 million towards the total, which they agreed the council will borrow and repay over 20 years,

    We now discover that the Vale part of the Metro could be up to ten years into the future as the project will start in the Valleys and Cardiff.

    I hope this gives you an idea of the complexity of the project and that you are a supporter of pushing forward for it to happen as soon as possible.

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