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Elections? What elections?

A backward trend in local elections nowadays is how important local issues get overshadowed by a tendency on the part of folks to use their vote to give a verdict on the government of the day – or some other related gripe.

Whether this will be the situation in the Evening Post circulation area next month remains to be seen.

What is evident in Swansea at least is that Labour are putting a substantial effort into defending their majority. And what the Conservatives lack in comparable resources, they make up for in warm bodies. The upshot is that both parties will be fighting every available seat.

Others, it seems, are playing a more tactical game. Despite consistently laying claim to the role of official opposition on Swansea Council, Liberal Democrats are only contesting just over a third of the vacancies.

Looking eastward, ballot papers in Neath Port Talbot will bear some household names. The novelty this time is that several of them are de-selected Labour councillors who have opted to stand as independents. Expectations are that it could get messy.

Whatever the eventual outcome, there is going to be a significant intake of new members for a council with a ‘can-do’ attitude.

In Carmarthenshire, the feeling among the ruling Plaid Cymru & Independent coalition is that they can maintain overall control. Few observers would disagree given that the Party of Wales has already seen three of their number elected unopposed.

Labour are staying canny about their prospects although work in their Llanelli powerbase is expected to pay dividends.

As ever, non-aligned or independents make up a good proportion of contenders. Several are under newly acquired flags of convenience but there is also a sprinkling of Green and Socialist hopefuls to keep things interesting.

What has been the biggest surprise however is that Ukip are putting up just 21 candidates across all three counties.

This lack of commitment could be related to their current internal woes. For myself, I suspect it’s more to do with how a ballot that doesn’t involve some helpful proportional representation just ain't worth the effort.


On the right tracks?

I’ve sat through enough presentations in my time to know when people are going through the motions.

That certainly could not be said of last week’s talk by representatives of train company Abellio to the local Federation of Small Businesses branch.

The Welsh Government will soon be deciding the Wales and Borders rail franchise. Abellio, who are in the running, gave a solid account of their track record and ambitions.

Just how this translates into more trains with modern facilities and more investment, as recently recommended by a UK government committee, is another matter.

Even so, FSB members and guests posed a series of probing questions on the night about sustainability and access and got some refreshingly upfront answers. All I can say therefore is if the company's level of service is as accomplished as their engagement skills then I for one might well be attracted back to rail travel.


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