Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Chairman Cole

It's been a long month since the election and what has been 4 weeks has felt like an eternity - so much has occurred during that time.

As a result, this blog has been relatively quiet and in the months ahead, I expect that to be a continuing trend so apologies to regular viewers for the lack of blogging, but time is a commodity of which I am growingly running short.

A Historic Change in Ceredigion
Why? Well because last Friday, I was given the great honour of becoming Ceredigion's youngest ever Chairman at the age of 29.

It brought to a close a roller-coaster month as the dynamics within Ceredigion County Council changed dramatically. A weeks long worth of behind-the-scenes discussions between all of the different groups in the Council resulted with the highly unexpected and unlikely sight of a 4-sided coalition between Plaid Cymru's 19 Councillors, their erstwhile opponents for many years the Independents group of 12, the newly formed Independent Voice grouping of 2 and Labour's Hag Harries.

This left the Welsh Liberal Democrat 7 as the official opposition to the ruling executive group of 34 with Independent Aled Davies remaining free from any political groupings.

After 8 years as a member of the ruling group in Ceredigion, it was certainly a novel feeling to be in opposition but a new challenge for our keen and enthusiastic group all the same.

The finer details of that fascinating week of discussions and political manouverings can be left for another time but suffice to say, anything was possible during that extraordinary 7 day period between the elections of May 3rd and the Council's choosing of the first ever Plaid Cymru and female leader in Ellen ap Gwynne on May 11th.

All I will add is that it was a pleasure during that time to see so many colleagues from differing political groupings, show the courage and willingness to reach across tribal boundary lines to work with erstwhile foes. In the final analysis, it demonstrated that politics is indeed 'the art of the possible'.

Ceredigion County Council Chairman
In that same meeting of May 11th, I was voted in as the Chair-Elect having served as Vice-Chair for the previous 12 months.

Alyson and I on the evening of our installation last Friday
Last Friday, in front of colleagues, friends and family, I (must admit!) nervously undertook the chains of office and delivered what was for me I felt, an uncharacteristically sombre opening address as Council Chairman in what are challenging and austere times.

I'm delighted that Alyson was willing to be my consort for the year and we now have ahead of us a busy 12 months as the civic heads of the Council. Having already undertaken the role of Mayor of Cardigan in 2009/2010, it is a role which I am accustomed too and I look forward to meeting many new people and organisations in the year ahead on behalf of the Council.

Indeed, I couldn't have planned for a more incredible start had I have tried with the arrival of the Olympic Flame to Ceredigion on Sunday - but I'll leave that for another post!

Suffice to conclude that it was a very humbling experience to be elected into post as the new Chairman by my County Council peers having been proposed for the role by my Welsh Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Elizabeth Evans and seconded by Plaid Cymru's Cllr Towyn Evans.

It is my role now to act impartially and fairly as the Council's civic figurehead and I will endeavour to do so to the very best of my abilities.