Whenever I seem to pick up a newspaper these days or look on the internet it is difficult not to see Neath and Port Talbot Borough Council in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Having spoken to many people whilst out campaigning as well as the thousands of supporters and friends of the " Justice for Linda Lewis Campaign " who have seen all the evidence regarding the injustice of her case, the overwhelming feeling from local people is that Neath and Port Talbot Borough Council are an undemocratic and unaccountable authority run by megalomaniacs now shamed badly in their eyes.
A view with which I totally agree.
Lets start with the case of Cilfrew Pensioner Linda Ware.
Ms Ware went to court to challenge Neath Port Talbot Council's granting of planning permission for an LNG gas pressure reduction station on the outskirts of her home village of Cilfrew.
Ms Ware subsequently won the case.
But by using the highly paid barristers they employ at "taxpayers expense" to get their own way Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council subsequently appealed the decision in a judicial review at the High Court and it was reversed.
Originally costs of £42,000 were awarded against her. This was reduced to £24,000 and Ms Ware was set to challenge paying any costs at all when her legal aid was suddenly withdrawn.
Why was Ms Wares legal aid suddenly withdrawn and who instigated it's removal ?
This led to an out-of-court agreement that she should pay £7,000 to the authority. She now has been ordered to pay almost £10 a week for the next 14 years, meaning she will have turned 75 by the time she pays it off.
Is it possibly a case that Ms Ware has been made an example of as a warning to other environmentalists or individuals who in future wish to challenge the actions of this seemingly unaccountable and bullying local authority.
Was the ASBO threat brought against Ms Ware unless she removed some tomato plants part of a policy of victimisation against this individual ? http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/Tomato-plant-ASBO-threat-gran-slams-council/article-1168885-detail/article.html
I agree with Ms Wares sentiments on the LNG pipeline.This is a disaster waiting to happen.
If anything should go wrong with this pipeline in Cilfrew or anywhere else from Milford Haven
to Gloucestershire then many local authorities may face charges of corporate manslaughter for their insistance on using the people of South West Wales as experimental "Human Guinea Pigs."
Once again Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council had to go and spent thousands of pounds of public money on Barristers just to satisfy their own egos and those of the council? Just to chase and bully a poor pensioner who has had the guts to stand up and fight against them for her own rights and those rights of the people.
Anyone wishing further details on the LNG pipeline should visit this excellent site http://www.pipelinetwitter.co.uk/
Moving on !
The news that the Prenergy Power Station has been given the go ahead by the Environment Agency is a complete disaster for the people of Port Talbot and the surrounding areas.
Port Talbot already has the most polluted air in Wales and the 2nd most polluted air in the UK.
Adding another source of pollution even with the so called assurances that they have set tough limits on emissions and operating standards to protect the environment and health of people nearby cuts little ice with me.
Neither does the Environment Agencies statement that "the proposed power station will have no measurable impact on air quality."
"Quite a remarkable statement really. Pumping more pollution into already polluted air has to increase pollution."
Port Talbot already breaks the UK limit on carcinogenic Benzo[a]Pyrenes.
Allowing further emissions in an area that already exceeds safe limits is madness and will contribute to additional long term health problems in the future.
Let's be perfectly realistic.
There is no chance whatsoever that the worlds largest biomass power plant costing in the region of £400 million to build will be knocked down if it fails to conform to its strict guidelines.
The best that we can expect is falsified figures and if neccessary another cover up if things go wrong.
The fight should continue and I will oppose it all the way if elected.
Lets not forget.We are in this position because the Council originally gave the greenlight for this proposal to go ahead.
It's u-turn was a meaningless gesture to try and regain some semblance of respectability and came too late.
The Council has to be held to account as well.
And finally who can fail to question what really is going on in the corridors of power in Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council when a story such as this appears.
OAPs must pay £100 bill for lifesaving alarm.
VULNERABLE pensioners in Neath Port Talbot must pay more than £100 a year for an emergency lifeline which was formerly free.
A letter sent out to users of the community alarm lifeline last month told them that the free service would cease on September 30.
The reintroduction of the charge after six years has been labelled as disgraceful.
One relative of a user, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Post: "The council wants to shamefully charge £2 per week to the most vulnerable members of our society. It almost goes beyond belief."
A letter seen by the Post from Claire Marchant, head of community care, confirms the £2 charge for the lifeline starts this month.
The emergency system offers an instant connection to carers if the user should fall or become ill.
Most of the people who use it are aged over 75, and the service has taken up to 200,000 calls in previous years. Full story http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/southwalesnews/OAPs-pay-163-100-lifesaving-alarm/article-1389038-detail/article.html
A New Labour run administration who care nothing for the people that they are supposed to represent. As long as these New Labour Councillors can fill their wallets with their grossly overpaid wages and expenses from out of the public purse then it should be obvious to everyone that the public no longer matter to them.