Tue. May 21, 2013
The third stage of the Welsh Local Democracy Bill offers the Government a “second chance” to act on issues like senior council pay, transparency and reforming the Boundary Commission, according to Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Local Government Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, tabled a number of amendments to the Welsh Government’s legislation at Stage Two of the bill, which is the stage where amendments are voted on in a Committee. Mr. Thomas’ amendments fell, despite support from other opposition parties and outside organisations.
With the Assembly evenly balanced between Government and opposition Assembly Members, many of the Plaid Cymru amendments fell by the casting vote of the Committee chair. The third stage of the bill offers the Assembly as a whole another chance to vote on the amendments, where Mr. Thomas hopes the Government will recognise the strength of feeling on improving the law.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:
“The Government needs to reach out and accept some of the amendments. Otherwise, we’ll be making law that up to half of the entire National Assembly doesn’t support. From the outset, Plaid Cymru has said that we want to improve the law, not worsen it, and that if it isn’t amended, it will make little visible difference to local democracy in Wales. This is an ideal vehicle to make far-reaching changes to how local democracy works, but the Government seems to want to pass a law that has no teeth.
“My amendments include an effort to control and regulate senior council pay independently, a move to scrap additional remuneration for returning officers, a guarantee of public rights to make reports from open council meetings, and an Electoral Reform Society-backed amendment to ensure that at least one Local Government Boundary Commission member is a Welsh speaker. The Boundary Commission themselves support the final amendment, as does the first committee report into the bill.
“Our hope is that the Government uses its second chance wisely to modify the bill and accept some of our points.”
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