Order of Precedence In County and Town, How Important Are You?

For this particular Blog Post I’ll be using Torfaen and the six Town and community Councils That make up the borough as an example, so this may differ slightly from county to county, but you’ll get an idea, and if you are ever hosting a civic function for local government, at least you’ll know where to seat everyone.

The High Sheriff Of Gwent.png

Now all I need to remember is to pass the port to the left, rather than hog it for myself.

*Please note, if your county council still retains a Mayor, they outrank the Town councils Mayor/ Community Council’s Chair, however since 2018 the Borough of Torfaen no longer has a mayor.

** I haven’t gone into detail on the precedence of various types of peerage, for the simple reason that it would take me forever.

*** Royals Outrank everyone, even the minor ones.

Council News: Best Annual Report Award

I never miss an opportunity to plug the good work of Cwmbran Community Council and am very happy to announce that the council have won the award for best annual report in Wales by One Voice Wales (The collective body of Town, Parish and Community Councils in Wales) at their Larger Councils and Innovative Practice Awards on the 5th of July.

19667711_1717698818258347_3563999616438946346_o.jpg
Cwmbran Community Council Leader Councillor Brooks Accepting The Award

It comes from a report highlighting the successes of  the council in several areas, which are

  • Promoting A Prosperous Cwmbran
  • Promoting A Resilient Cwmbran
  • Promoting A Healthier Cwmbran
  • Promoting A More Equal Cwmbran
  • Promoting A Cwmbran of Cohesive Communities
  • Promoting A Cwmbran Of Vibrant Culture and promoting a thriving use of the welsh language
  • Promoting A Globally Responsible Cwmbran
  • Promoting A Competent Council

The report was heralded as one of the finest examples of large community council (Cwmbran being the fourth largest town in Wales) implementing the Well Being of Future Generations act 2015, and it really is a testament to the hard work of officers, members and staff in making Cwmbran an award winning council.

Government Policy As Understood By My Two Year Old

Lifting The Veil On Politics- Wales (4).png

Sometimes government can seem like several factions of warring children, and policy itself seems to have been thought up by preschoolers, so here is my daughter Marianna’s thoughts on some policy areas from the current government.

The NHS

The Lady [Theresa May] wanted to shut all the hospitals”

Fox Hunting

“The nasty lady [Theresa May] wants the doggies to hurt the foxes, its bad” 

Brexit

“The Silly Man [Boris Johnson] doesn’t like all the other people” 

Child Poverty

“The Scary Lady [I assume Theresa May] doesn’t want the babas to have food or toys, when they want pizza and dolly’s and we should give them some books” 

Immigration 

” I like the other people” 

Trident 

“[Bombs] are bad, because they blow up peoples houses and the poor baba’s”

m.jpg
Marianna is no stranger to political activism, she was an active campaigner in the reccent local government elections. 

NB: Neither I nor Marianna’s mother have ever taught her to refer to Theresa May as nasty or scary, this is just a conclusion she has drawn for herself, along with calling Boris Johnson the silly man.

U-Turns On NI

The Man Down My Local.png

A little over a week ago the Chancellor of The Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced in his spring budget that he would increase Class 4 National Insurance Contributions from the self employed from 9% to 10% in April 2018, and to 11% in 2019, to bring it closer to the 12% currently paid by employees. This is a move that pissed off, not just the main opposition parties in Westminster, but the core demographic of Conservative voters.

In the United Kingdom, National Insurance (NI) is a system of taxes paid by workers and employers, used primarily to fund state benefits. So you can see why the low tax pro business party might have one or two problems with self starting business owners paying higher taxes, especially when we’ve had to endure seven long years of austerity measures whilst being told that its impossible to tax oneself into prosperity.

However its a moot point because a week later the poor Chancellor was dragged back out to say that on reflection (ie mounting pressure from his own parties supporters) that he would be scrapping the policy and looking to make capital increases elsewhere.

It just seems odd to me that the government would even dare float such a policy, because it would seriously piss off their core base of voters. And then it hit me, that they can actually get away with putting in place policies that a really unpopular,  and that’s because the opposition is in such disarray. Jeremy Corbyn has no control over his MP’s, most of whom are in open rebellion against him, and those who are loyal to him are about as effective as trying to cure a  migraine with an ice pick.

So thinking they could get away with it may be why they announced it, but whats the reasoning behind the idea? It’s pretty sound logic to be fair and is doing the one thing that the Tories have been criticised for not doing for as long as I can remember. And that’s addressing a tax dodge. It isn’t closing the gap on non-doms or foreign registered businesses, and again will only hit the low income self employed, but nevertheless it is a tax dodge and its a little convoluted so stay with me.

Step One

When setting up your own business you register it as a limited liability company with companies house, thus making your company a thing independent of you.

Step Two

You register as the businesses sole shareholder

Step Three 

You sign an employment contract with your company agreeing to pay yourself minimum wage (or some suitably low wage) for which you will only pay national insurance (and a minute amount of employment tax)

Step Four 

You work your arse off and the business starts doing well making profit, say £100,000 a year, if you had taken this as a wage you would take home £65,467, but by taking it as a shareholder profit you would take home £78, 842 (after paying tax and national insurance on your “wage” and after paying your corporation tax).

The national insurance you would pay in this scenario would only £1,128 for the year, so you see why the government would be anxious to maybe claw a little bit extra back. But alas no, because Conservative voters tend to get a little pissy when taxes go up and the government starts messing with the way they do business.

 

Happy Saint David’s Day

How To Write A Speech (10).png

Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David’s death in 589. The feast has been regularly celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, though it is not a national holiday in the UK.

Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, recognised symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, eating traditional Welsh food including cawl ,Welsh rarebit, and Welsh Cakes and women wearing traditional Welsh dress. An increasing number of cities and towns across Wales including Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth also put on parades throughout the day.

The day also marked some interminable display of the Welsh Language going on in schools, suffering through that was always a hellish experience. I actually make quite a quick study in languages, speaking about four conversationally and being able to spout the basics in 7 more, but Welsh is something I’ve never been able to get my tongue around, you need both a lisp and severe throat infection to really get it and I lack both. Being a Welshman who doesn’t speak Welsh is actually a pretty common thing, about 85% of Welsh residents report having no ability to speak Welsh, and yet over 99% report speaking English. Yet every official sign and form (from the public sector only thankfully) has to be in both English and Welsh, which is ridiculous, how many trees have died just to preserve a dying language. It’s also worth mentioning that the number of Polish speakers in the UK is almost double that of Welsh speakers, but we don’t see council tax bills in Polskie do we?

Lifting The Veil On Politics: Local Government

Lifting The Veil On Politics- Wales (2).png

This is the third in a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

What on earth does local government do? Its a tricky question to answer. There are 55 unitary authorities in England and 22 in Wales and whilst the duties of each individual council differs from council to council, most are responsible for the maintenance of highways, social care and education, as well as small schemes provision and local jobs creation schemes.

Councils will be made up of directly elected councillors which will then form a cabinet and decide on matters of education, social care, housing etc. Councillors will work with permanently employed officers of that council to set a budget and deliver policy for the areas that are devolved to that particular council.

Most people have the misconception that councils are funded entirely by council tax. This is wrong. Whilst council tax is my highest monthly bill after housing, in order to cover the entire cost of running a council I estimate that my council tax would have to go up by about 1000%. Councils, get somewhere between 75-90% of their funding from central government. So this is why it really annoys me when people complain about council services, using the old line “I pay my council tax”  to justify whatever they’re griping about, because the majority of the councils money comes from Westminster or the Welsh Assembly and actually seems to be going down year on year, whilst council tax goes up and up, without being too much of a burden on the rate payers.

Hopefully this post answers some of the questions  you have about local government, and with the elections coming later this year, you’re bound to have at least one or two that need answering.

Supreme Prerogative & Dreams Of The Republic.

the-man-down-my-local-6

So who’s been watching the court proceedings over the Brexit vote? No one? Well whose been reading the key points of the appeal in the papers or online? The whole key point over this trial and appeal nonsense is whether or not its illegal for Theresa May’s government to push through Brexit without consulting parliament.

The method by which Ms May’s government could circumvent parliament is through the Royal Prerogative, according to English Common Law the royal prerogative is loosely defined as:  “the name for the residue of discretionary power left at any moment in the hands of the Crown, whether such power is in fact exercised by the reigning Monarch or by their Ministers.”

The royal prerogative is not an unlimited power and it is up to the courts to decide whether the prerogative exists.

This however raises many questions, both legally and constitutionally. Key in my mind however is this. If the supreme court find in favour of the claimant, and the royal prerogative is seen as illegal, does this spell the beginning of the end for the monarchy?

On the face of it I would say no it doesn’t really change anything in terms of what the monarchy can and can’t do, after all the royal prerogative has actually been decided at the courts prerogative since the 1600’s. But I do feel that with the way things are in the current political climate, if the court were to say that this last vestige of royal power was in fact illegal, it may well form a rallying cry for the republican movement in Britain.

When I speak of the republican movement, I don’t speak of the political party that President Elect Donald Trump managed to simultaneously represent and alienate. I in fact speak of the movement that wish to abolish the monarchy (opinions on how vary from a peaceful referendum to a guillotine).

I do think that a lot of the constitutional questions that arise from such a trial are being overshadowed by the narrative which is being portrayed in the media, the left leaning press focusing on the need for parliament to be consulted and the shameful actions of the government in trying to bully this policy through, and the far right press is focusing on the outrage that the will of a narrow majority is being questioned. Its almost as if certain right wing media outlets are suggesting that the supreme court is trying to overturn the Brexit vote, rather than simply iron out how it is implemented, but that’s their prerogative, if they wish to mislead their readers and politicise the judiciary it is their right. But it still over shadows the real questions that need to be asked.

It’ll be interesting to see if the  verdict is held up after the appeal has ended.