Wales politics

Rodney Berman says Lib Dem councils can stay in control

Image caption Rodney Berman said he was encountering less anger on the doorstep

Cardiff's Liberal Democrat leader has said the party can keep control of the councils it runs at local elections in May.

Rodney Berman, leader of Wales' biggest council, said voters' anger at the UK government had "dissipated quite a bit" since the 2011 assembly elections.

Mr Berman addressed the final day of the Welsh Lib Dem conference.

He told activists their party had "good story to tell" about its local government record.

At a time when they are struggling in the polls, the Lib Dems will want to show an improvement from last year's assembly elections when their share of the vote dropped.

'Trumpet'

Mr Berman's party controls Cardiff Council in coalition with Plaid Cymru.

The Lib Dems lost a seat in the assembly elections last May.

Talking to reporters before his speech, Mr Berman said he was encountering less anger on the doorstep towards the Lib Dems' Westminster coalition with the Conservatives as people start to feel the benefit of income tax cuts and pension increases.

"It doesn't get mentioned that much and has lessened a lot since last year," he said.

"What people can see is that it takes time to make that influence.

"A year ago there was a bit more anger on the doorstep. That has dissipated quite a bit."

The Lib Dems are the biggest group on Cardiff council where they have been running the authority in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Lib Dems also lead Swansea and Wrexham councils.

Mr Berman added: "We can go out to the electorate with our heads held high and trumpet what we have achieved."

Deputy Welsh Lib Dem leader Roger Williams said the local elections would take place against a harsh economic backdrop.

In a reference to the coalition government's spending cuts, the Brecon and Radnorshire MP said: "We must always remind people that our tough decisions are because of Labour's incompetence."

On Saturday, Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the party could "look forward with our heads held high".

He acknowledged the Lib Dems took a "hammering" last year.

But Mr Clegg told the conference the party was "doing the right thing" through the coalition government.

In her conference speech, Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams accused Labour of failing to live up to the promise of last year's referendum to boost the Welsh assembly's powers.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the Yes vote, she attacked the decision of Carwyn Jones's government to bring forward a bill on local government by-laws as the first piece of legislation which uses the assembly's enhanced law-making powers.

"It is hardly the great leap forward is it?" she said.

More on this story