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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Councils set for greater powers
Rhodri Morgan in the Senedd
Labour have not asked for powers to change how councils are elected
The UK Government is to unveil plans to transfer more law-making powers from Westminster to the Welsh assembly.

The assembly will in future be able to reshape local government without seeking parliamentary approval.

This could enable councils to draw up new by-laws to deal with local problems for the first time in more than 100 years.

They will also get more than 3.5bn from the assembly government next year - an increase of 4.3%.

Ministers in Cardiff Bay will be given wide-ranging powers to decide the shape of local government - from council boundaries to the way byelaws operate.

But Labour has said it will not change how councils are elected, which could prevent a future coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who want proportional representation.

Jeff Jones, a local government consultant and former council leader, said the public would notice a difference.

'Missed opportunity'

Mr Jones said: "If a certain number of council electors get together they can actually say to the council 'we want you to rethink this policy' which at the moment you can't do between elections.

"At the same time I think greater powers which actually go the local council itself to scrutinise the activities of other public sector bodies. I think that will increase greater public transparency and accountability."

The assembly government said it welcomed the UK government's intention to enhance its powers.

But opposition parties have questioned whether the changes go far enough.

But Plaid Cymru local government minister Dai Lloyd said it was a "missed opportunity" that showed a "lack of ambition" from Labour.

Welsh Lib Dem leader Mike German said while he welcomed the changes, they did not go as far as he would like - particularly in relation to how councils are elected.

Welsh Conservatives' local government spokesman David Melding AM approved of the increase in funding for councils, but only spending increased by an equivalent amount.


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Local government shake-up planned
26 Oct 06 |  UK Politics



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