Thursday, February 03, 2011

Welsh Liberal Democrats to fight council reorganisation by ministerial decree

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today announced that they will do everything within the standing orders of the Assembly to oppose the Labour-Plaid government’s anti-democratic plan to reorganise local government in Wales without due process, scrutiny and consultation with the communities affected.

The Labour-Plaid Government last week announced plans to amend the proposed Local Government Measure. The plans would give ministers sweeping powers to merge or amalgamate councils with minimum debate and consultation and virtually no scrutiny.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Local Government, Veronica German AM, said: “The Labour-Plaid government wants the powers to allow a reorganisation of local government by Ministerial decree with minimal consultation with the communities affected and next to no scrutiny and debate in the National Assembly. These proposals have been brought forward very late in the day and after the Stage One evidence and scrutiny has finished.

“Ministers seem to be indicating that it is only in relation to Anglesey and Gwynedd that they will use these powers, in which case they should be honest about what they see as the issue in Anglesey and bring forward specific proposals to address them.

“The proposals make a laughing stock of the Labour-Plaid commitment to local government and to the Assembly. Such behavior is a dreadful advert for devolution and plays into the hands of No campaigners who would prefer powers to rest in London.”

Commenting Peter Black AM for South Wales West, Welsh Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, said: "These proposals show breath taking arrogance from the Labour-Plaid administration and total contempt for the communities of Wales. It is totally unacceptable for Labour to use their huge majority in the Assembly to railroad through proposals of this type for which they have no mandate. Neither Plaid Cymru nor Labour put these proposals in their manifesto, nor did they form part of their coalition agreement.

“Once these powers have been passed to the Minister, it will be very difficult to win them back. This Minister and future Ministers will have enormous powers to reorganise local government and the delivery of vital services without involving the communities affected.

“It is the job of Welsh Liberal Democrats to be the effective voice of all our communities in Wales. We will be using all the procedures available to us within the rules of the Assembly to block these proposals and ensure that they do not reach the statute book.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats are proposing a series of amendments all of which seek to improve the measure by extending consultation and limiting ministerial power. Taken individually, they would improve the proposals but we are clear that the Labour-Plaid government must withdraw these proposals and think again.”


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