In his first blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly Council leader Lindsay Whittle outlines his thoughts on recent council business.
I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to write a regular column for Caerphilly Observer’s growing readership. With traditional media facing declines in circulation, it is vital that alternative forms of information are available to those who don’t read or buy newspapers.
I firmly believe there is a place for a comprehensive and local online news service such as that provided by the Observer, particularly as it covers both parts of the county borough – the old Rhymney Valley and Islwyn areas. It is vital for local democracy that we have a thriving media – in traditional newspapers, radio and TV and online.
Housing stock transfer
I wanted to refer to the council’s decision to give tenants in the county borough the opportunity to decide whether our 11,000 council homes should be transferred into a new registered social landlord.
I grew up on the Penyrheol council estate in Caerphilly so it was with a very heavy heart that I backed the decision to go out to public ballot on this issue.
The authority would need to find more than £116m over the next 30 years to meet the cost of bringing homes up to the minimum standard required under the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS).
In an ideal world, and unfortunately we are not in an ideal world, we would all want to retain control of our housing stock. But have to be realistic and look at the budget pressures that we face over the next few years.
I firmly believe that stock transfer would be the best option for our tenants and ensure the standard of their homes is improved. But at the end of the day it is up to our tenants. They live in the properties so must decide what is best for them.
Save Caerphilly Police Station
More than 500 people have now signed my online petition opposing any move by Gwent Police Authority to shut Caerphilly Town Police Station.
We cannot allow a town with a population of more than 30,000 to be without its station. It would damage confidence in the police, particularly among the most vulnerable.
I accept Gwent Police Authority, like all public bodies, is facing a financial squeeze but I believe the Home Office should be providing more money to support them even in these difficult financial times.
Please support my SOS – Save Our Station – campaign by signing the online petition at www.saveourstation.co.uk. With the help of Observer readers we can win our campaign.
Plaid Cymru leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council