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Almost half of Welsh councils have voted to reject the controversial 'golden handshake' scheme of pay-offs for long...
Almost half of Welsh councils have voted to reject the controversial 'golden handshake' scheme of pay-offs for long-serving councillors.

The policy has been greeted by some as a cutting-edge attempt to clear the 'dead wood' out of local politics. But 10 of Wales' 22 councils have now refused to implement the severance scheme while just six have voted to back it.

Maurice Hughes (Ind), leader of Pembrokeshire CC - one of the latest councils to reject the pay offs - said the scheme would not achieve the Assembly's aim of bringing new blood into local government.

'There's absolutely nothing to stop someone retiring at 60 or 70, taking the money, and then standing at a by-election two months later,' he said.

'We felt that the majority of members retiring at the end of their service would be retiring anyway.'

Pauline Jarman (Plaid), leader of Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC, said the scheme was 'ill thought out, gimmicky and abhorrent'.

She added: 'No one is being fooled here. [Welsh first minister] Rhodri Morgan is trying to solve an internal Labour Party problem by bribing elderly Labour councillors not to stand.

'Instead of wasting taxpayers' money Rhodri should call these people to Cardiff and tell them to their faces that they are not wanted.'

Shan Wilkinson (Lab), leader of Wrexham CBC, said the Assembly should have made the decision nationally instead of forcing councils to decide on a local basis and 'take the flak'.

But Alex Aldridge (Lab), leader of Flintshire CC - which has yet to make a decision on the issue - said attempts by those who rejected the scheme to make electoral capital out of their opposition were 'nauseating and stomach churning'.

'They are trying to endear themselves to the general populace in the run up to the election, but I think the electorate is more intelligent than that,' he said.

The scheme was introduced on a voluntary basis by the Assembly in July.

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