Friday, 26 September 2008
This time he alleges that “… Powys CC and Mid-Wales Housing have to bring in young offenders etc to fill their own social housing.” This is a very similar to the allegation that Harold disgracefully made during the campaign for the local elections in May. On that occasion he alleged that Powys Challenge, a well-respected local charity, was bringing ex-cons and young offenders to live in Powys. He was subsequently asked to provide evidence to support this allegation, and to date he has failed to respond. So come on Harold, if you have one shred of evidence to support your allegations, let’s see it.
He then poses the question “ If these so-called homeless are so law-abiding why do they need a Warden to keep and eye on them?” Clearly, all these years after Harold Nicholls came to Llandrindod from the other side of the border, and after all the business he has transacted with both Radnorshire District Council and Powys County Council, and all the meetings he has attended, he still has no idea of even the basic provisions of the Council’s Housing Policy, and most importantly, he still has no understanding of the statutory duties laid upon local authorities by the various branches of central government with regard to housing homeless people.
Let us be in no doubt, Harold’s consistent reference to the numbers of empty flats and houses in the area, reveals the real agenda behind his actions and letters to the press. Harold is motivated by one thing, and one thing only, self interest. As the owner of a goodly proportion of these empty properties, he clearly wants them occupied so that he can squeeze every last penny out of his tenants. In pursuit of this aim, Harold is single-minded in his attempts to block any and every move that seeks to provide much needed affordable housing for local people. His only purpose is to force people who need affordable housing in the Llandrindod area into his flats and those of the other landlords, by denying them any alternative accommodation.
What makes it worse is that many of the local elected representatives don’t seem to be able to see through Harold Nicholls and some even appear to share his hate-filled views. Wake up Llandrindod, Harold Nicholls pretends to care about the community, but in reality, the only member of the community he really cares about is himself.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
My link to these sculptures is rather tenuous, true I was a member of the panel who interviewed and subsequently chose the artists who were commissioned to create these works. Since that selection panel and as a consequence of the local elections, I have had nothing at all to do with the project, much to my regret.
The process was guided by officers of SAFLE and to an extent, influenced by the views of the Council’s Arts Development Officer. However, all the panel members were clear that any such commission involves risks. It was clearly understood that selecting artists with reference to their other work and by interview offers little say and no influence on what they actually produce for a given location. Tony Stallard who was selected for the Ridgebourne Gateway Project came with a significant reputation as a sculptor using light, and such work would be unusual for Powys, I know of no other sculptures using light in the whole of the county. So to commission Tony carried an inherent risk.
Philippa Lawrence had little public work to show but the work she had exhibited in competition, both in Wales and abroad, was impressive. Her wrapped trees of two or three years ago had been well received. So, to the extent that she was, at the time, little known also carried an inherent risk. Subsequently Philippa won the Welsh Artist of the Year Award for 2008.
Whatever the merits of the artists and the work they have produced for Llandrindod, one thing is certain, the works were never going to meet with universal approval. And nor should they be expected to.
Sir John Tusa in an article in the Observer earlier this year summed up the dilemma of public art thus:
“Art in public spaces really gets the juices flowing - informed critical juices, deeply felt uncritical ones, preciously held sheer prejudice. What matters is that the presence of a work of art in a public space - 'our' space, 'free space' perhaps - invites a feeling of ownership, of involvement of a very direct kind…”
He goes on to quote Michael Craig-Martin who observed that 'most space is undifferentiated. Once you have a sculpture there, you see the rest of the space differently'.
So public art is not about whether or not you like it, nor is it about alternative uses for the money spent on it. It is first and foremost about seeing the space differently, and once you have seen the space differently, then you begin to form an impression of the work, and only then do you begin to formulate an opinion about it. I would contend that if a piece of public art causes you or anyone else to go through this mental process, then it has gone some way to achieving its purpose.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
The story is about Powys County Council’s decision to switch off two in every three street lights in non sensitive areas in order to fund massive energy price increases. In the story, the council claims that this action will cut the council’s carbon footprint by up to 1100 tonnes per year and reduce the light pollution in the night sky. The switch off began last Monday.
Councillor Gary Price, who seems to object to almost everything his council does these days, and after having walked through Trefonnen and around the lake on Monday, is quoted as saying “I felt really scared… I went to the lake and I fear for anyone walking around there after dark, it’s pitch black.”
This is a man who, like some of his fellow postmen, likes to wear his shorts through the winter just to show how hard he is. The ladies of Llandrindod must be asking themselves where all the ‘real men’ have gone?
On a more serious note, Councillor Price might wish to reflect on what sort of image he presents of the town of Llandrindod with inane comments like this? Perhaps the electors of Llandrindod East-West ought to consider finding someone with a little more courage to represent them at the next council elections.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Yesterday, Kirsty Williams AM launched her bid to become the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats when Mike German stands down in October. Those of us in Brecon & Radnorshire already know what an able politician she is and support her in her endeavour.
However, if our party is to make progress in future elections, it is essential that we get our message across to the whole of Wales. It is no good having the most logical, well-argued and costed policies if the average voter knows nothing about them. It is no good having the best candidates if we cannot convince the uncommitted voter to even consider voting Liberal Democrat.
Do the people of Wales know what Liberal Democrats stand for? Or more importantly in these days of identity politics, are the people of Wales able to identify with us if they don’t know what we stand for?
So what does Kirsty Williams stand for? In a lecture given in Aberystwyth earlier this year, Kirsty was clear on what she understood by Liberalism :
personal freedom and civil liberties,
a passion for social justice,
absolute intolerance of racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry,
Kirsty called these, the enduring values of Liberalism - values which she believes are shared by a majority in Wales. These values are the core of the ‘brand’, it is adherence to these values that identify Liberal Democrats, it is these values that should underpin everything we do, these values are what we stand for.
So when any Labour, Plaid or Tory hack smugly asks “What are the Liberal Democrats for?” Tell them loudly and clearly:
Liberal Democrats are for liberty, justice, tolerance and internationalism.
And ask them what they stand for - then decide which party you identify with.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
However, it is to the great credit of the Trustees, Staff and Volunteers of this vibrant and determined organisation that they are still going, still providing superb creative arts opportunities for educationally disadvantaged people throughout Powys.
Celf o Gwmpas has recently launched its 5 plus 5 Challenge to help raise essential funding to continue to provide their great service. 5 plus 5 is about giving 5 minutes of your time to learn about what Celf o Gwmpas does and how you can help, and donating a minimum of £5 each to help fund Celf’s current programme of arts projects.
Take it from me, this is the most worthwhile cause and deserves your support. So please find the time to visit the Celf o Gwmpas gallery at the Beaufort Shop, Temple Street, Llandrindod (opposite the National Cycle Museum) to find out about what Celf o Gwmpas does and offer them your support.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
The essentials of redneck culture were brought to America by what we call the Scots Irish, after first being shipped to the Ulster Plantation, where our, uh, remarkable cultural legacy can still be seen every 12 July in Ireland. Ultimately, the Scots Irish have had more of an effect on the American ethos than any other immigrant group. Here are a few you will recognize:
· Belief that no law is above God's law, not even the US Constitution.
· Hyper patriotism. A fighting defence of native land, home and heart, even when it is not actually threatened: ie, Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Haiti and dozens more with righteous operations titles such as Enduring Freedom, Restore Hope, and Just Cause.
· A love of guns and tremendous respect for the warrior ideal. Along with this comes a strong sense of fealty and loyalty. Fealty to wartime leaders, whether it be FDR or George Bush.
· Self effacement, humility. We are usually the butt of our own jokes, in an effort not to appear aloof among one another.
· Belief that most things outside our own community and nation are inferior and threatening, that the world is jealous of the American lifestyle.
· Personal pride in equality. No man, however rich or powerful, is better than me.
· Perseverance and belief in hard work. If a man or a family is poor, it is because they did not work hard enough. God rewards those who work hard enough. So does the American system.
· The only free country in the world is the United States, and the only reason we ever go to war is to protect that freedom.
All this has become so deeply instilled as to now be reflexive. It represents many of the worst traits in American culture and a few of the best. And that has every thinking person here in the US, except perhaps John McCain and Sarah Palin, worried. Very worried.
Monday, 8 September 2008
Saturday, 6 September 2008
It is the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican Party’s Vice Presidential candidate that I find surreal. Take this quip from her acceptance speech:
“What’s the difference between a hockey Mom and a pit bull?” Answer: “Lipstick!”
Now who in their right mind would seek to liken themselves to the ugliest, most obnoxious and savage breed of dog ever invented by man? And why would such a joke (!?) gain such rapturous applause? What does this tell us about modern America and the legacy of eight years of George W Bush?
It tells me that the Republicans seem incapable of learning from their disastrous foreign policy mistakes of recent years and that a McCain and Palin White House is unikely to lead to a more peaceful world. Indeed, the emergence of Sarah Palin onto the American political scene is probably the most compelling reason for joining CND since the Cuban Missile Crisis over 40 years ago. I am even beginning to wonder whether the UK’s continuing membership of NATO is in the best interest of its citizens?
Perhaps it’s the weather that is making me depressed?
Thursday, 4 September 2008
However, what is even more insidious is Harold’s firm implication that the local “great and good” are fully in support of his hate-fuelled campaign against both this planning application and that for the property Gwynfa in Beaufort Road. He strongly suggests that all three County Councillors who represent wards in Llandrindod, together with Llandrindod’s Mayor and Town Council and even the local MP are fully in accord with Harold’s views.
Now unless the “great and good” take steps to distance themselves from Harold and his extreme views, the rest of us ordinary residents will begin to believe that they are, indeed, dancing to Harold’s tune.