The Welsh Liberal Democrats have hit out at the Welsh Labour Government for wasting over £130,000 on the Williams Commission, the recommendations of which they’ve ignored.
A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Liberal Democrats found that a total of £130,332.51 was spent on the Williams Commission, not including staff costs funded from core funds.
Labour Ministers have said that they will not take forward the Commission’s recommended map for combining local authorities, or many other recommendations by the Commission.
The news comes as the Assembly prepares to debate Stage 3 of the Local Government Bill, which the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be voting against unless the party’s crucial amendments to introduce a fairer voting system (STV) in local council elections are passed.
Peter Black AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Local Government Minister, said:
“For Labour Ministers to spend over £130,000 to set up a Commission, only to then completely ignore its recommendations, is a colossal waste of money. Why go through the effort and expense of a full consultation if the response is just going to be ignored?
“Labour Ministers have been stubborn on this issue from the outset – it’s their way or else. Sometimes they seem to forget that they failed to get a full mandate at the last election, and that they don’t have the right to rule like a majority Government with only half the seats.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats are trying to give this Bill a purpose by introducing a much-needed change to the voting system for local council elections.
“If Labour Ministers decide that protecting their dominance in County Halls is more important than voters being able to cast a fair vote at election time, the Welsh Lib Dems will have no choice but to vote down this Bill. I hope other parties will join us in doing so.”