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WELSH WANT TO MAKE OWN DECISION ON PR

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Welsh councils should have the right to decide for themselves whether to adopt proportional representation, the Wel...
Welsh councils should have the right to decide for themselves whether to adopt proportional representation, the Welsh Local Government Association says.

In its draft response to the Welsh Office Local democracy consultation paper, the WLGA argues councils should have the freedom to experiment with innovations such as special legal powers, cabinet and mayoral systems, decentralisation, flexible registration and proportional electoral systems.

WLGA head of corporate affairs Paul Griffiths said these issues were inter-related and should be considered according to each council's needs.

'We are offering to construct a coherent local democratic strategy for each authority,' he said.

The draft suggests future legislation should invite councils to prepare and consult on local democratic strategies.

These would be considered by the national assembly which would then confirm any new legal powers, innovations in political management, pilot projects on voting arrangements and proposals for electoral systems.

In a rare departure from the English Local democracy white paper, the Welsh version makes a passing reference to PR, noting it will be used in the context of the Welsh assembly but that 'changes to the electoral system alone would not remedy the current weaknesses in local government'.

This has been interpreted by the WLGA as a deliberate attempt by the Welsh Office ministers to put PR on the agenda despite opposition from London.

The draft response also opposes plans to exclude the right promised to English councils to hold select-committee inquiries.

'There is no other suggestion in the paper with which the association more strongly disagrees,' the WLGA said.

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