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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK

UK: Wales

Lib Dems attack Labour over Assembly

The Lib Dems accuse Labour in the Assembly of being "barren"

The Liberal Democrats' leader in the National Assembly for Wales has accused Labour of a "barrenness of vision" towards the new institution.

Mike German said Labour's approach to the Assembly was "bland and timid".

Mike German: "The bold thinking is about the changes that need to happen in Wales"
He called for a more pro-active stance on tackling problems like schools' infrastructure.

He told party activists in at the Lib Dem conference in Harrogate that devolution had amounted to a "quiet revolution" in Wales.

[ image: Mike German: Labour
Mike German: Labour "bland and timid"
"In its opening weeks, the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay has been characterised more by its blandness than anything else - its blandness and timidity, and its barrenness of vision.

'Revolution without vision'

"Still startled by the audacity of the Welsh electorate in not giving them an overall majority, the Labour Party simply doesn't know what to do.

"Their solution is to do as little as possible and the strategy is to take one day at a time and try to hold out for four years."

He said: "We are having a revolution without vision, without courage, without a hint of bold thinking."

'Dare to be different'

Insisting that Wales deserved better, Mr German called on the Labour to begin tackling the £325m backlog in school repairs and take a more imaginative approach to problem-solving on other issues.

He challenged Assembly First Secretary Alun Michael to "dare to be different" from Labour in London and to stand up to the Treasury to deliver extra spending for Wales.

He also highlighted the need to secure extra cash to allow Wales to benefit fully from the European Objective One funds - the highest level of European regional aid, for which Wales has recently qualified.

"We need to ensure that we have match funding in order there is money to do the things we need to do for our economic regeneration," said Mr German.

Money would be spent on revitalising communities and for dealing with the infrastructure of Wales to create more "vibrant" communities.

"Labour cannot agree with us unless they tell us where the money is coming from - we need the money now."

The Liberal Democrats, with six members in the National Assembly, are the smallest of the four parties represented there.

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