It took the Senedd’s Petitions Committee less than three minutes to “consider” my petition calling on proposals for a council tax revaluation to be rejected. The Welsh Government wants to revalue all 1.5 million properties in Wales, create new bands and set new tax rates. I launched a petition, which collected 3,324 signatures, after reports contained in last summer’s phase 1 consultation suggested Monmouthshire residents will be hit by astronomical rises in the amount of council tax they pay if proposals go ahead. Sadly, I fear these reforms for a so-called “fairer” council tax system are a done deal as a letter to Petitions Committee chair Jack Sargeant from Finance and Local Government Minister Rebecca Evans indicates the Welsh Labour Government is determined to push ahead with its plans. Even the committee acknowledged “we can see quite clearly the intention” of the Minister, coupled with the Co-operation Agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Labour Government which states council tax reform is a “clear intention by both parties”. Nevertheless, it was agreed to keep my petition open and review it when the next round of consultations – due later this year – have finished. I still maintain an issue of this importance needs full debate and proper scrutiny… but it strikes me as being a fait accompli.
Desperately sad news for everyone connected with Abergavenny Women FC after the club announced it is folding. When I visited the Pen-y-Pound Stadium two years ago to speak with the ladies, I could see what a tight-knit football family this was. I remember quizzing senior Football Association of Wales (FAW) officials at the time about their decision to restructure the women’s domestic game and demote Abergavenny Women FC from the top flight. Rightly or wrongly, I am sure this is not the outcome they wanted. To lose a club that has contributed so much to the development of women’s football in Wales is bitterly disappointing and I really do feel for the players, coaching staff, officials and volunteers. I wish them all the best for the future and very much hope they are able to continue their footballing journey elsewhere.
Congratulations to Cllr Steve O’Brien on his appointment as Mayor of Usk. It was a pleasure to talk to him and his consort Peter Hall at their civic service on Sunday afternoon. Steve spent 30 years in the police force in Greater Manchester so he comes well equipped for the job, although I like to think any problems in Usk will be somewhat tamer! Good luck to Steve and Peter for the year ahead.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 07 June 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 08 June 2023*