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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 09:49 GMT
Labour take power on Vale Council
Vale of Glamorgan Council offices
Labour said it was an 'absolute crisis situation' on social services
Labour has seized control of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, saying it was forced to act because of serious problems with social services.

Half of the council's Plaid Cymru group as well as independent members joined in the takeover of the authority.

New council leader Margaret Alexander said they felt the situation was "absolutely dire".

The Tories, who had been in control, accused Labour of threatening to destabilise local government in Wales.

Ms Alexander is meeting the former opposition parties who had supported the takeover and she said she hoped to form a cabinet on Friday.

She said the 5m deficit in social services and the problem of bed blocking meant that in the public interest they had to act.

Unless we did something , things were just going to drift on as they were, becoming increasingly catastrophic
Margaret Alexander, new Vale Council Labour leader

Ms Alexander said constituents were "extremely upset because the free care packages instituted by the Welsh assembly had been cut and the owners of local care homes had an increasing number of vacancies because people were being kept in hospital when they were ready to leave."

"These cuts were instituted in April and as we went to the meeting last night (Wednesday) it was still going on.

"It was extremely difficult to get information from officers. Social workers were telling us there were 59 people stuck in hospital, senior officers were telling us there were seven.

"We felt it was an absolute crisis situation and unless we did something, things were just going to drift on as they were, becoming increasingly catastrophic."

The Conservatives said the takeover did not solve any of the issues facing the Vale of Glamorgan and the new leadership's strategy was driven by "narrow political interests".

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Conservative local government spokesman David Melding AM said: "Labour sees local government in Wales as theirs by right and will do everything possible to undermine and destabilise those who threaten that power.

Mr Melding said it was "becoming increasingly clear that this is a tactic Labour intends to use elsewhere in Wales in the run-up to the assembly elections".

"People will not forgive them for riding roughshod over local democracy in such a cynical, opportunistic manner."

Last month research by BBC Wales found two-thirds of councils were facing an overspend in adult care services, with a quarter facing deficits of more than 1m.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) criticised the current care system as "unsustainable".

Cutback fears over care deficits
06 Nov 06 |  South East Wales
Ops are 'halted by bed-blocking'
29 Sep 06 |  South East Wales

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