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Give councils more powers say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat spokesman Peter Black has responded to the Williams Commission's report, saying that the Welsh Government should hand additional powers to the proposed larger councils.

While I support reducing the number of councils, this report is about more than that. We need a wholesale change on how local government works in Wales. This is about ensuring we get cost effective, efficient and accountable public services delivered at the right level. I believe it is essential that councils, especially if they will now be larger, gain more powers and responsibility. Devolution must not stop at Cardiff Bay.

When we are contemplating the third restructuring of local service delivery in 40 years, we must make sure that we get it right. That means that we need to consult widely on the report’s recommendations and properly debate them. It is imperative that the Welsh Government shows leadership on this issue.

The Williams commission says the period of change will take around three to five years. I support this timeline, however I also urge caution. The next local government reorganisation must be for keeps. We cannot afford to be considering ripping it up and starting again in 15 or 20 years time. I'm prepared to support re-organisation if we get it right. That means having councils which are representative, with a fair voting system such as the single transferable vote, so that the outcome of elections are reflected in the way councils are elected.

– Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson Peter Black AM

Lib Dems criticise 'half-baked' Tory housing ideas

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised proposals unveiled by the Welsh Conservatives to boost the supply of affordable housing. Housing spokesperson Peter Black described the plans as 'half-baked policy ideas' and urged the Tories to 'take themselves a bit more seriously.'

The most puzzling aspect of the policy is the proposal to include a "one-for-one" initiative with a new home built for every home sold. It is absurd that this is being proposed by the one party that actually wants to cut the housing budget. There is no indication how their policy will be paid for, where the new homes will be built and over what timescale.

It’s equally embarrassing that the Welsh Tories are promoting this as a policy for all of Wales and yet only eleven local councils still have council housing stock. Their 'revamped Right to Buy' policy can only therefore apply in half the country.

Whether it’s charging people for using the NHS, bringing back grammar schools, or selling off our social housing stock, the Welsh Tories time and time again show that their views are both out-dated and completely out of touch.

– Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat

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United opposition forced Welsh Government climbdown - Lib Dems

Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said the credit for forcing the Welsh Government to change its mind on council chief executives' pay should not belong to any one of the opposition parties. He said it was because all three stood firm.

When all three opposition parties work together, we can force the Welsh Labour Government to improve legislation for the better of Wales. It would be quite churlish of one political party to claim ‘victory’ on this issue. The three opposition parties work well together, and indeed with the government, and we hope this will continue. Curbing excessive pay was a priority for us and we are glad that the Welsh Labour Government has listened to us.

– Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat

Bethan Jenkins tweets in defence of her decision to miss censure vote

Bethan Jenkins has taken to Twitter to answer criticism of her decision to miss a vote of censure on her in the Assembly and instead attend a protest in London by former Visteon workers who've lost their pensions.

I have apologised many times 2 public, 2 my constituents. 700 people from my area needed me in London today.

– Bethan Jenkins AM on Twitter

AMs went ahead in her absence to censure Bethan Jenkins for her drink-driving conviction. She responded to criticism from the Liberal Democrat Peter Black for staying away from the Senedd.

Dont be so petty Peter, seriously now. Judge me on what I do and say, respectfully.

– Bethan Jenkins AM on Twitter

I am not judging you but your absence is disrespectful to the Assembly. This is not a petty issue

– Peter Black AM on Twitter

Welsh Liberal Democrats join regional pay criticism

Ahead of this afternoon's Assembly debate on regional pay, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black has said introducing it would be 'disastrous for Welsh workers and the Welsh economy.' He said,

It is important we do not forget that it was under Labour that regional pay was first introduced in to the courts system. We opposed that move then and we oppose the current suggestion made by Chancellor George Osborne that a similar system could be rolled out across other civil service departments. Like many of our colleagues in Westminster, Welsh Liberal Democrats are fundamentally opposed to regional pay.

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