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MORGAN AROUSES IRE BY DROPPING PARTNER ROLE

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Welsh council leaders have reacted with anger to news that new first secretary Rhodri Morgan has decided to delegat...
Welsh council leaders have reacted with anger to news that new first secretary Rhodri Morgan has decided to delegate responsibility for the Partnership Council between the Assembly and local government.

The Welsh Local Government Association, which has always had high hopes of the Partnership Council as a mechanism for involving councils as equal partners in the governance of Wales, resolved to ask Mr Morgan to reverse his decision.

One leader warned that if he failed to do so, local authorities would simply fail

to turn up at future Partnership Council meetings.

Last week Mr Morgan announced he had given local government secretary Peter Law responsibility for the Partnership Council, together with extra responsibilities for urban regeneration and crime reduction.

Neath Port Talbot CBC leader Noel Crowley said: 'As far as I am concerned it was written into the constitution that the first secretary would be chairman of the Partnership Council. This change has taken place without any consultation at all with us and is unacceptable.'

Bridgend CBC leader Jeff Jones said the decision was a psychological blow. 'Under the previous system we always met with the secretary of state for Wales. There's a feeling that somehow local government has now been demoted.'

Mr Morgan also announced that Sue Essex, a former leader of Cardiff CC and more recently chair of the Assembly's local government committee, will take over Mr Law's planning, environment and transport duties.

The move means she has also gained a seat in the Assembly cabinet. Carwyn Jones, Assembly member for Bridgend, has been appointed to the new, and unpaid, post of deputy secretary for local government.

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