Local Politics

By way of reminding myself for future reference I thought I’d do a quick post about the results of Thursday’s local elections.

I live in the Riverside ward within the area administered by Cardiff City Council. When I moved here in 2008 there were three Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist) councillors. That was just after an election in which the Welsh Labour party had done badly, and also to some extent reflected the particular nature of the Pontcanna area which is within Riverside ward, in that it has a sizeable Welsh-speaking population many of whom work for the  media, especially the BBC.

Last year we had a by-election, won by Iona Gordon for Labour, so going into this year’s elections there were two Plaid councillors and one Labour. The result of the 2012 vote was very bad for Plaid, who lost their two remaining candidates to Labour. So in four years I’ve gone from living in a Plaid Cymru stronghold to a Labour stronghold.

The pattern in Riverside ward was repeated across Cardiff, so that Labour achieved a sizeable overall majority, with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru all losing seats:

Before the elections the Council was run by a LibDem/Plaid Coalition and such was the swing against these parties that Council Leader Rodney Berman lost his seat, although in apparent desperation to cling onto his salary he demanded two recounts before giving up. Afterwards he spoke to the press claiming that the result in Cardiff was down to Westminster politics rather than local issues.

I don’t think so.

I certainly voted on local issues and so did many of the people I talked to. The former administration of the Council was awful in many respects, including proven maladministration over the decision to build a waste incinerator. I’m not the only person to have remarked on the plethora of pointless roadworks going on in the city, including narrowing the busiest thoroughfares, and of course the ongoing over-development of Bute Park.

No, Mr Berman. You were voted out because you did a lousy job.

There’s no guarantee, of course, that Labour will do any better but I very much doubt they can do any worse. I hope I’m not proved wrong.

5 Responses to “Local Politics”

  1. If the volte face on tuition fees had not already made me determined never ever to vote for the Libdems again, the complete refusal by Berman and company to pay any attention to the protests against the development in Bute Park would probably have done so.

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    I’ve been around long enough to see cyclic behaviour in all this.

    When I last lived in Cardiff – in the 1990s – the Labour controlled Cardiff City Council became unpopular, with claims from some people about a poor record in office. There was public outrage over very generous expenses payments given to councillors, and particularly to cabinet members. Labour lost seats in council elections in Cardiff in 1999 with a sharp growth in the Liberal Democrat representation. This continued in 2004 and 2008, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the largest party by far. Plaid Cymru made gains in an area where historically it had scant representation.

    Now the Liberal Democrats have collapsed and Labour has become dominant once more.

    This is a pattern that has been seen in South Wales councils over the past 15 years: Labour dominant at first, then being turfed out of office as either the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru made dramatic gains, followed by a reversion to Labour in the following election. The difference in Cardiff is that the process happened over several elections, whereas in some other counties (such as Rhondda Cynon Taf in 1999/2004 or Caerphilly in 2008/2012) the process took place over a shorter period.

  3. telescoper Says:

    What I wonder is to what extent the Council is actually controlled by the councillors. Most of the services are organised by people who keep their jobs regardless of the election results.

    I’m happy that the current Council is being replaced and am prepared to give Labour a chance (even though I didn’t actually vote for them myself).

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      Yes, that is a good point about where important decisions are made: by elected councillors or by council officers.

      I was discussing a similar point in relation to national governments with a friend recently: do ministers or faceless civil servants create many policies. That discussion compared health service and science policy.

  4. […] Local Politics (telescoper.wordpress.com) […]

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