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Minister and Rhondda AM seeks to take democracy away from residents

Rhondda AM and Minister for Public Services Leighton Andrews has today launched his White Paper on Local Government and caused widespread anger over some of his proposals, including the length of time Councillors would be allowed to stay in post.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell said this is another example of the top down centralising agenda which Mr Andrews is intent upon

"Having made a negative impact on the education system in Wales during his time as Education Minister the AM for the Rhondda now seems intent on tearing apart the Local Government system.

"Now nobody would deny that the Council system needs an overhaul, there is a need for fewer Councils and fewer Councillors across the country as well as the introduction of a fairer voting system

"However, limiting the number of terms a Councillor can serve his or her community is taking away the democratic rights of residents. They should be able to decide who represents them and for how long they wish to continue to re-elect them."

One of the proposals is that Councillors should not be able to serve more than 25 years and Council leaders no more than 10 years.

At First Minister's Question Time Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams asked

"I presume what is good for the goose is good for the gander, so can I assume you plan on introducing term limits for AMs, Cabinet Ministers and indeed First Ministers?

I appreciate that Leighton Andrews obviously has a very low opinion of his Labour colleagues in Local Government, and this is your way of breaking up the Labour old boys club."

The First Minister had no answers.

Councillor Powell added

"I doubt very much if this will endear the Minister to his Labour colleagues in RCT many of whom have been in post for a considerable amount of time. There is a need for fresh blood and more diversity in the Council Chamber but that should be down to political parties to shake up their system and individuals to come forward and stand.

"We live in a democracy and it should not be for the Minister to dictate whether experienced Councillors who have served and continue to serve their communities well must step down because of some arbitrary time scale. It is for the electorate to decide at the ballot box whether a Councillor has been there long enough."