Former Caerphilly Council leader Allan Pritchard
Former council leader Allan Pritchard, who lost his seat in last week’s election, looks back at 25 years as a local councillor.
I’ve been very proud to represent the residents of the Penmaen ward for over 25 years.
We’ve moved from the dark times of the Oakdale Colliery closure to the brighter days that have seen the regeneration of the former pit site and the vast environmental improvements that have taken place in the area.
I joined Plaid Cymru back in 1969 following the Aberfan Disaster and the appalling actions by the then Labour Government and Lord Robens to raid the disaster fund to pay for the removal of the Aberfan Tip. Plaid’s political representation across Wales was pretty sparse at that time.
I was first elected as a councillor on the former Islwyn Borough Council in 1979 under the guidance and leadership of Aneurin Richards, the then leader of Plaid Cymru group, learning the skills of debating and gaining an in-depth knowledge of constitutional matters.
I left the council due to work commitments in 1991 but after the formation of Caerphilly County Borough Council, decided to stand again in 1999 and won back my old Penmaen seat.
We took control of the authority and I was made Deputy Leader and carried the portfolio of Personnel and modernisation. I developed the constitution for the authority to move to a cabinet/scrutiny system as well as introducing new ways of working for staff.
In 2008 Plaid once again took control of the council and this time my portfolio was Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Human Resources and Constitutional Affairs, taking over as leader following Lindsay Whittle’s election as an Assembly Member.
My proudest achievements include:
- Leading the successful campaign against the former Labour-controlled council proposals to close Oakdale Comprehensive School.
- Witnessing the development of Oakdale Business Park on the former Oakdale Colliery site where there are now more people employed than there were at the colliery before its closure in 1989.
- Leading Caerphilly to become the first council in Wales to negotiate a Single Status Agreement and introduce Equal Pay for lower paid women workers.
- Introducing the highly successful training and apprenticeship scheme within the council.
- Freezing council tax for two consecutive years, the only authority in Wales to have achieved this.
- Regenerating our town centres with Blackwood Miners’ Refurbishment and new or refurbished libraries and customer first centres at Bargoed, Risca Palace, Blackwood, Abercarn and Caerphilly.
As for my working life, that started in 1957 at the age of 15 with the National Coal Board as an underground mining trainee and gradually worked my way through the ranks becoming personnel manager at the Oakdale Mining Complex and was also awarded British Coal Personnel Manager of the Year.
When the colliery closed I moved to the Princes Youth Business Trust in 1993 as a regional manager for South Wales and helped more than 300 disadvantaged youngsters set up their own businesses.
In 1996 I became Director of Development for the Tredegar Development Trust, helping to regenerate the old town. My focus brought new concepts to the area such as cyber cafes and training opportunities for people with learning disabilities.
My wife Pauline and I are the proud parents of two daughters and three grandchildren. I enjoy relaxing at my local rugby club in Oakdale and was a former captain of Tredegar, Blackwood, Oakdale and Monmouthshire County (Gwent).
I’m very proud of the Plaid group’s record in Caerphilly over the past four years and I’m sure we will see people in the county borough turning back to Plaid in five years’ time.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the residents of the Penmaen ward for showing the confidence and support for me to represent them over 25 years. It has been a privilege.
Former Plaid Cymru Leader,
Caerphilly County Borough Council