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Betsan Powys | 21:34 UK time, Tuesday, 1 April 2008

If you've ever been tempted to question the dedication of candidates in local elections, then I hope you'll be pretty impressed with the news that one pamphlet was shoved through our door during the big match that I've promised not to mention again on this blog.

That has got to be the work of someone who really, really wants to win one of the 1260 seats up for grabs in Wales' 22 unitary authorities on May 1st.

A month to go then but only a fortnight for you to contact us on 08703 500700 or on either or in Welsh on to tell us what the burning issue is in your area. You're welcome to use this blog too to leave messages and our end of the deal is that we'll tell as many of those stories as possible.

All four main parties face big challenges.

Labour must hang on to what they've got. The Iraq factor won't cause the same damage as it did in 2004 but the Brown factor - his standing in the polls at least - won't be helping. Losing Newport would be unthinkable but I bet you they've thought long and hard in Transport House about the possibility of Newport and more than one other Labour-led council falling to no overall control.

The Liberal Democrats find themselves defending Cardiff, Bridgend, Swansea and Wrexham. The masters of the 'only the Lib Dems can challenge here' bar charts and leaflets will have to play a different game this time round if they're to give Mike German more than a very limp send-off and their new leader any sort of platform.

Plaid Cymru will be out to claw back some of the seats they lost in the valleys in 2004 but must also ride the storm of school closure protests in Gwynedd. Candidates fighting in the name of Llais Gwynedd (who wanted to call themselves Llais y Bobol, or People's Voice - think Blaenau Gwent - until electoral rules prevented them) will be determined to make school closure plans the focus of this election; Plaid will be out to stop them.

And the Conservatives? Local elections might not be their strong suit in Wales but for my money they're facing more of an electoral test than anyone else. They did ok in the Assembly Elections but with David Cameron riding high and a Labour/Plaid coalition to target in Cardiff Bay, surely the faithful will expect rather more than ok come May 1st?

By the way if you're:

a. tempted to stand as a candidate or
b. tempted to read an election leaflet thoroughly

then bear in mind this helpful check-list for candidates which is on the Welsh Local Government Association's website.

"All candidates need to:

Check the currency and validity of facts they may wish to quote

Be clear about the role and powers of their council when making manifesto pledges

Be realistic about the possibilities for change and improvement when making manifesto pledges

Avoid damaging the reputation of the council by making unfounded or sensationalist comments".

You're welcome to print it out and pin it just inside your front door.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:41 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Ifor Williams wrote:

"Be clear about the role and powers of their council when making manifesto pledges"

How many times have I seen first time prospective councillors fall into this one.

Just a warning, if you think we live in a real democracy, then think again.
Politics is grounded by centralist rules and regulations, where it is often impossible to do anything to improve or help someone in your community. This is because someone sitting behind a desk in an unitary council office will tell you you'll have to do as they say, or what they say what the rules or guidelines say.

Delagative powers by council officials is a disgrace. These people should be answerable to the people they serve and the community and town councils of Wales, not the assembly or anyone else.

So anyone contesting a unitary council seat, should really kick a fuss about this issue, and bring about real democracy to those they serve.

  • 2.
  • At 04:59 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • J Swettenham wrote:

Cardiff: The 'burning issue' for me with the local elections is the plan to build an incinerator in Cardiff. Such a plant would undermine efforts to recycle and reduce waste and would be a terrible waste of money. I'll be asking any candidates that knock on my door to oppose it.

  • 3.
  • At 09:19 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Cochyn wrote:

You haven't included the so-called Independents who rule large parts of rural wales.

Glyn Davies used to call them Tories in disguise!

  • 4.
  • At 11:56 AM on 03 Apr 2008,
  • Penyberth wrote:

Burning issues on the doorstep in Gwersyllt, Wrecsam - Strong anti Labour feeling in what is a traditional Labour area. Also housing, allocation, repairs and affordability, as well as a shortage of social housing and the exorbitant rent in the private sector. Also concerns over greenfield sites and the Unitary Development Plan.

  • 5.
  • At 10:50 PM on 03 Apr 2008,
  • Gareth wrote:

Hi Betsan, have any of the parties commented yet on the amazing new currency designs unveiled by the Mint - absolutely no Welsh symbols included despite it being designed by a Welshman and produced in Wales!!
Surely it is now time for us to turn our back on the unbelievable English and get the euro going straight away as currency across all Welsh businesses? Can you lobby for it please! Diolch, Gareth

  • 6.
  • At 07:25 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Ken wrote:

"If you've ever been tempted to question the dedication of candidates in local elections"
Oh how I laughed! I've never seen a candidate, canvaser or even an election leaflet anywhere near where I live!

  • 7.
  • At 11:37 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Dan Hughes wrote:

The currency designed by a Welshman and produced in Wales having no Welsh symbols is somehow the fault of the unbelieveable English? Unbelieveable racism.

  • 8.
  • At 08:41 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Robert wrote:

I'm 57 now, have been Labour since i was 11 years old working in the hall to get the local Labour party meetings on, then cleaned up, made tea, put leaflets through doors knocked on doors to ask people to put up a poster.

This year I did not register to vote for the first time in my life.

A few years ago I had an accident at work which nearly killed me, spent eighteen months laying on a hospital bed.

Since new Labour came to power I've watched my life go down hill, oh I've been back to work three times working for cowboys who used me for a year before sacking me, then ask me to come back after three months, the government gives them money then to employ me.

This year my benefits went up by £2.25 a week, my rent went up £3.25, thats without the council tax and electric water and the rest. I get £87 a week.

I've decided to allow the people who want to to vote, as I say my life gone down the pan, so good luck to who ever wins. it will make no difference to me.

  • 9.
  • At 09:56 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • fred wrote:

"Avoid damaging the reputation of the council by making unfounded or sensationalist comments"

There's at least one Lib in Cardiff already fallen foul of this and has been reported to the election authorities according to the Echo. Will it get dealt with in a timely fashion, or will it all get swept under the carpet til after the election?

  • 10.
  • At 02:40 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Dewi wrote:

Candidates list seem to be sporadically available via Councils websites.....Betsan any way the wonderful BBC could collate nos candidates by party?

  • 11.
  • At 04:18 PM on 14 Apr 2008,
  • Bob Jones wrote:

I won't be voting this year for the simple reason that I have found out I live in a communist past of Wales. In our area you can vote for any party you like - as long as its Labour.

We have no democracy - and its getting worse. There is no incentive for the local councillors to bring up this issue of party by default. There is no incentive for the Labour party in Wales to make it less likely they will win again next time. Finally, there isn't even enough initiative to make a spoilt vote as being for None of the Above.

This would be real democracy - and it isn't something we are going to see in Wales. Possibly something to do with not really wanting to give the people a chance to vote them out, maybe?

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