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DAVIES STRESSES 'PARTNERSHIP OF EQUALS' FOR WALES

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Tension between the Welsh assembly and councils in their role as strategic leaders is inevitable, Welsh secretary R...
Tension between the Welsh assembly and councils in their role as strategic leaders is inevitable, Welsh secretary Ron Davies said this week.

Speaking to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, Mr Davies acknowledged the need to ensure 'a proper balance between the legitimate aspirations of the assembly and the aspirations of local authorities'.

'What I can do as a minister is create the structures and the framework within which that tension can be resolved,' he said. 'It will be a matter for local politicians to make sure they are used as constructively as possible.'

Mr Davies stressed that the relationship between local authorities and the assembly would be 'a partnership of equals', despite the fact that the assembly would effectively hold the purse strings. To suggest otherwise was 'invidious'.

The assembly's duty to sustain and promote local government, and the provision for a statutory Partnership Council of assembly and local government representatives, would form the basis of their relationship, Mr Davies said.

'The assembly will not be empowered in any way to undermine or diminish local government powers or responsibilities,' he said.

Mr Davies spoke of the 'new politics' of Wales. What had been 'a thoroughly unhappy relationship' was now a partnership. 'We want to see a much more holistic approach generally in the provision of public services.'

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