I HAVE, in my time, sat through more than my share of dull council meetings.
I’m sure they were interesting to those taking part, but for a young hack wooed to the job by Woodward and Bernstein, it was a bit of a let down to be writing about development control.
Try as I might, I didn’t think a breach of planning was going to bring down the government.
The councillors weren’t a bad bunch, some were a tad too fond of the sound of their own voice, but I’m drifting into pot and kettle territory there, so I’ll leave it at that.
There was the occasional ego-tripper for whom a seat on the council was clearly the first step to world domination – one parish, one borough, ein volk, ein reich – if you get my drift.
But I never came across one who thought he – because when it comes to little Hitlers it’s always a he – had the powers that Conwy councillors seem to think they have.
That is to hold back the tide.
Perhaps it was a power they snuck past us when they were allowing councils to charge us an arm and a leg to pay for building regs every time we want to change a fuse.
That’s the only rational explanation for Conwy Council’s opposition to a windfarm off the coast of North Wales at Llandudno.
They must believe that as the ice caps melt and as sea-levels rise, as coastal areas across the globe are inundated by the rising waters, the then chairman of Conwy will be able to stride into the surf and save this little corner of Wales.
I hope whoever it is will be a strong swimmer.
The Gwynt y Mor windfarm would mean putting up 200 turbines eight miles of the coast. The power they produce could supply 500,000 homes and it would provide 120 jobs.
But, according to some, it would spoil the view. One objector even went so far as to call it a ‘visual obscenity’. If he thinks a windfarm is an obscenity I think he’s led a bit of a sheltered life.
The fact is that global warming is with us and while Gwynt y Mor on its own will not hold back the rising tide, unless it and many more like it go ahead there will be no more view to enjoy full stop.
If there is one group who should be supporting offshore windfarm developments it is the coastal regions of the UK.
One of the main effects of sea-level rise will be erosion of coastal areas and that means Llandudno and all the other Welsh resorts that have a beach or sea front will suffer.
The council said no enough had been done to study the effect of windfarms and so the council is opposed to the scheme.
I would have liked the council to have come up with just a shred of evidence that wind farms actually put tourists off before they came to their decision.
But can they, or the other very vocal opponents of windfarms, have any suggestions where they should actually be sited. If we can’t have Gwynt y Mor, then where can we have it?
The problem is that all sorts of people comfortable with their view aren’t going to want to have wind turbines off their little patch of coastline.
So, do we have no windfarms at all? If so, what are we going to have and where?
Doing nothing might be an answer to those of you who are of advanced years and won’t be around to feel the seawaters lapping round your ankles. But if you have children or grandchildren you might think differently.
Unless we start dealing with this problem now then life will not be half as comfortable for those who come after us. They will wonder why we didn’t save their coastline because we pathetically ‘liked the view.’
A worst-case scenario where the ice caps melt will see sea-levels rise by 68 metres. If they don’t want windfarms in Conwy they’d better build a pretty high sea wall and start building it now.
I’M a little too young to remember the Tupenny Rush at the cinema of a Saturday morning.
But my father informed me that a regular, and somewhat tedious, plot device was to have the hero of that week’s tale of derring-do heading for a cliff on a runaway train/horse/car, over which he appeared to plummet in the final frames.
This ensured the return of the young cineastes the following week to establish whether their hero was dashed to pieces on the rocks below, or, as invariably happened, he had hurled himself from the train/horse/car in the nick of time.
The effectiveness of this device was limited in the cinema, but I don’t believe it’s ever been used in newspaper columns before – until last week when the last half of the last line vanished into the wild blue yonder.
Perhaps I was tempting divine intervention in a column about the right to print cartoons that depicted Muhammad.
In the grand traditions of Saturday morning cinema, I suppose I should do a quick recap: In last week’s episode, our hero (OK, I’m pushing the metaphor to its limits here, but cut me some slack) had wondered why we hadn’t been more vocal in our support of the Danes in their hour of need rather than pandering to the mob who threatened to behead anyone who so much as looked at Islam funny.
Anyway, for those who were left wondering what the last line was, and who are now sitting there with your choc-ices, full of expectation. Here it is:
“Because if the chips are down I suggest we side not with the baying mob, but with the country that gave us The Little Mermaid.”
AND while I’m on the subject, am I alone in spotting the crippling irony of the editor of Cardiff University’s student paper getting suspended for printing the ‘offending’ cartoons?
The title of his paper – Gair Rhydd – Free Word.
Only free-ish then.
As well as suspending the editor and barring him from all University property the Union scuttled round gathering up all 8,000 copies of it that had been distributed.
I studied at Cardiff when it was still UCC and I’ve got to say that I find their actions an affront to free speech.
Worst still are the mealy-mouthed apologies and tip-toeing round sensibilities which simply would not have happened if the cartoons had been aimed at Christian or Jewish deities.
No you are not alone in spotting the irony with regards to Gair Rhydd, nor in condemning the actions of the students union.
I didn't think so.
Er, where are these condemnations...other than on a handful of blogs?
Indeed Chris, indeed.
Oh, and while we're at it, Sarah Teather's idiotic contribution to this issue confirms her already steely grasp on the title of not the Lib Dem's brightest spark.
Hostages to bloody fortune and all that.
Except Peter Black - comments above - who is a Lib Dem AM - has (quietly on his blog) condemned it...
Sorry - I have just spotted who you are, as it were!
I have been in touch with a couple of Cardiff students who are interested in whether the university and/or union can be pursued under the university's freedom of speech code of conduct and/or the relevant provisions of the 1986 Education Act (if they are relevant)...or indeed pursued on any other grounds.
Do you believe there might be any grounds for a formal complaint?
Are there any legal firms whom you would recommend who might be prepared to assist...I am prepared to spend some money supporting a complaint...
Education Act is not my area of expertise, if it could be said I have any that is.
If the Uni or Union has a code that guarantees freedom of expression then it might have breached by one or the other. However, usually such guarantees are undermined by small print caveats about bringing into disrepute and so on.
The Human Rights Act might be an avenue to go down, as that guarantees freedom of expression. But it is the editor's right that has been curtailed and it is he who will have to assert his right. he might be keeping his head down hoping he gets let back in.
I would certainly like to see this action by the Union challenged because, unless someone can tell me otherwise, the editor has committed no crime in publishing these cartoons, and yet he ends us suspended, his education and career in jeopardy.
If I can help, drop me a line.
Any local law firms you might recommend?
I am in touch with a big London firm but a little worried about costs...!
If there's one you'd recommend.
Are you after Cardiff firms?
Yes - if there's one you would recommend.
Any invidual partner you would recommend obviously also useful..
Hi Chris, if youre still about.
I don't have any particular recommendations in the Cardiff area, and any lawyer is going to cost you.
I'm not sure what your standing is to bring a complaint though. It's up to Gair Rhydd's editor to fight this if he wants to, as it is his rights that have been affected.
Any court will ask what business is it of yours, unless the action is brought by members of the student body.
The editor has a right to freedom of expression, but this right is exercisable usually in relation to the state.
It really rather depends on how Ordinance 4 of the Union constitution is interpreted and who interprets it.
There is an appeals process and it would make for rather an interesting case if you had the union arguing against an editor's right to freedom of speech.
However, this all depends on whether the Gair Rhydd editor has the stomach for the fight.
If you know him and he wants to e-mail me he can get me at
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