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WELSH LGA FACES CARVE-UP AS LABOUR DOMINATION PETERS OUT

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The Welsh Local Government Association is heading for a major constitutional shake-up to reflect the end of Labour ...
The Welsh Local Government Association is heading for a major constitutional shake-up to reflect the end of Labour domination within Welsh local politics.

Fragmentation of the vote in June's local elections has been mirrored in the carve-up of power within the WLGA, which will be led by Alex Aldridge (Lab), leader of Flintshire CC, but include roles for the leaders of all 22 Welsh councils.

Prior to the election, Labour held all portfolios except rural affairs, with the deputy spokesmanships shared out among the other parties.

The increased contribution of all political groups to the WLGA's management and direction, as well as its representation on external bodies, is likely to be enshrined in a change to the association's constitution by the end of the year.

Mr Aldridge promised a more 'collegial' WLGA which would develop more mature relationships with government.

'There is no need for the level of acrimony and conflict I have witnessed in the past,' he said. Ministers would be invited to address WLGA council meetings, Mr Aldridge added, to be held across Wales four times a year, instead of the current twice.

The election of Mr Aldridge represents a major shift towards consensus politics. Predecessor Sir Harry Jones (Lab) was noted for his old-school leadership style and the obedience he commanded within his group. Mr Aldridge, although more outspoken than Sir Harry, is more willing to build bridges with political opponents.

Meryl Gravell (Ind), leader of Carmarthenshire CC, becomes presiding officer. Of the 20 spokespeople elected so far, eight are Labour, six independent, three Liberal Democrat, two Conservative and one Plaid Cymru.

However there was still anger from opposition groups about the way in which the allocation of positions was agreed by leaders in advance of the association's council meeting.

'The whole mechanism was unsatisfactory and undemocratic,' said Rodney Berman (Lib Dem), leader of Cardiff CC.

'Labour was able to dictate which spokespersonships they would claim, leaving other parties to fight over what was left,' he said.

But the WLGA said a speedy decision had been necessary to ensure the continuity of business after the elections.

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