In his regular blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly Council leader Lindsay Whittle gives his take on recent news.
I’ve been gradually getting use to my new surroundings in Cardiff Bay as an Assembly Member.
I feel immensely proud to have been elected to serve the people – although I wish my parents were alive to see it. They both campaigned for me into their 80s.
I’ve had lots of emails congratulating me on my election from as far away as Canada where I have relatives. And I also received a lovely letter from a former teacher, Richard Ellis. He now lives in Llangefni in Anglesey but was the first Plaid candidate to stand in the ward I now represent.
It’s, of course, sad to be leaving my role as leader but I move on to the future with excitement. If you don’t get excited, then it’s time to give up.
Since I went to the Assembly the day after results were declared, I’ve been really well looked after by the staff and I’m getting my feet under the table.
I’ve noticed that the Assembly seems a cosy and friendly place. Everyone has been very kind and helpful. I’m more used to the cut and thrust of local politics. Perhaps that is to come.
I intend setting up an office in the region and will be advertising for staff shortly.
As mentioned earlier, I will be stepping down shortly as council leader but will remain a backbench councillor.
I’ve heard some question whether individuals can serve as an Assembly Member and a councillor. Well, it’s very much the same as the very many councillors who have full-time jobs but also serve the public as councillors – which I did myself until recent years.
The alternative is to have a local authority with many retired people and that wouldn’t be representative of the community as a whole.
Meetings of the council are held during the evening, while the Assembly meets in the day, and I will still be representing the people of Penyrheol and Trecenydd as I always have.
I’m proud of Plaid’s record in Caerphilly – the only authority in Wales not to increase council tax bills this year. Frontline services have been maintained and we’ve not imposed wage cuts on staff, as has happened in Labour-run Rhondda Cynon Taf. Plaid will have a powerful message of success to put to voters come the next elections.
Plaid Cymru leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council and regional Assembly Member for South Wales East