RE-INTRODUCING full-time nursery education for three-year-olds, increasing the number of street enforcement officers, more sporting facilities like BMX tracks and skate parks and removing the “lottery system” for granting disabled parking spaces.
These are some of the priorities of independents in Rhondda Cynon Taf if elected on Thursday, May 5
Mike Powell, who has led the RCT Independents group in the council, has been a councillor in Rhondda Cynon Taf representing the Trallwn ward since 1999 and has highlighted some of the key commitments independent councillors would pursue.
“It has been a turbulent few years for everyone in all sorts of ways, in my area there was the devastating floods in early 2020 quickly followed by Covid and lock down which had a massive effect on everyone.
“Now the news is dominated by wars and the ill deeds of certain
politicians. All of this has coloured the way many people think about lots of things.
“One hugely positive effect has been the community spirit which has risen to the surface.
“People getting together to help those hardest hit. It is not politicians who have driven many of these community schemes – although many have helped – but residents helping each other.
“As a result, I think more people are seeing that they could make a difference and are coming forward to stand for election hoping for real change.”
There are currently seven independent councillors on RCT Council, but this election sees 21 independent candidates putting their names forward across the county borough.
Mr Powell said this group could potentially make a big difference as part of a coalition or confidence and supply agreement in a post-election administration.
“Us Independents believe that politicians of every persuasion and at every level are there to represent the people who elect them and the interests of those people, not their own.”
“By our very nature, a group consisting of individuals will always have diverse range of opinions and interests, but we agree on many of the major issues which concern the people of RCT.
“Education is a top priority for all, and the group feel that under Labour there is far too much inequality in RCT.”
He said the independent group strongly opposed the removal of sixth forms from some schools in the Rhondda and in Pontypridd and the creation of a mix of through-schools.
“The current administration has turned education into a postcode lottery, there is no consistency. Whilst there is a random mix of age range schools in two-thirds of the county, the Cynon Valley have escaped this.
“They removed full time nursery education and now it is down to each school to make their own arrangements and decide what they can provide.
“Whilst school budgets have been partially protected, schools are still left not knowing until last minute how much they have to spend for the year ahead.
“Three-year rolling budgets would end the uncertainty.”
He said a significant number of Independent candidates are self-employed and run their own businesses.
“It is not surprising then that they are very aware of the many issues facing small businesses and think more could be done to support them. They say the success of local enterprises is key to increasing employment and bringing more investment to the area.”
Mr Powell said environmental issues also come high on their list of priorities.
“There are the obvious problems such as dog mess, fly-tipping, littering which are always high on the list of residents’ concerns and we need more wardens and enforcement action to address those.
“RCT has a very good recycling record but could do more. Provide recycling bins in parks and public spaces, for example. We would also like to see more innovative projects such as community growing spaces. Also, more tree planting in urban areas.
He said more empty properties need to be brought back into use to help address the affordable housing shortage.
He said here is an urgent need to look at the over development in the south-west area of the county, in particular where massive housing projects have been given the go- ahead with little or no thought to the infrastructure to support them.
He said: “As independents, we are not bound by any party loyalty, we believe a good idea is a good idea no matter who comes up with it and will work collaboratively with anyone who we believe is working in the best interests of the residents we represent.”
Here is a summary of some of the main commitments the independents have put forward in RCT:
Re-introduce full-time nursery education for three-year-olds;Give schools three-year rolling budgets; Increase the number of street enforcement officers; Remove the lottery system for granting disabled parking spaces; Bring more long-term empty properties back into use; More sporting facilities like BMX tracks and skate parks in communities; Planting more trees and wildlife friendly plants where possible, especially fruit trees; Introduce RCT-wide sporting competitions to bring all communities together; In areas where community councils exist, get RCT to engage in a more meaningful manner, especially in areas like planning and Support the option to make every vote count in future local RCT elections by making them subject to proportional representation voting system.
Mr Powell commented:
“These are just a few of the policies we Independents will want to see provided if there is no overall control of RCT after the May elections and our support is required.
“We are also realistic in not expecting these to all be provided for in the first year of office, as RCT’s budgets have already been set, but we will set the wheels in motion to get them provided during our term in office.
The other candidates in Trallwn ward are Anne Davies (Labour), Adam Porter (Conservative) and Tom Rowan (Plaid Cymru).
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