Wales politics

Vote 2012: Welsh Lib Dems 'transforming communities'

The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats hailed her party's record in running councils when she launched its local election campaign.

Kirsty Williams said she was not worried about a backlash from voters against the UK government.

She brushed aside a drop in the number of Lib Dem candidates, saying the Lib Dems were targeting resources where they have a strong presence.

A spending squeeze meant councils must "focus their resources", she said.

Lib Dems say they have delivered in places where they lead local councils. They hope to keep control of prized assets such as Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham when voters go to the ballot box on 3 May.

But they are fielding around 100 candidates fewer candidates than they did last time Wales' 1,200 council seats were up for grabs four years ago.

Asked if she was concerned about voters lashing out at the Westminster coalition government, Ms Williams said: "No because the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Liberal Democrat councillors have got a really strong track record of transforming communities over the last four years.

"Welsh people know that if they want a better schools better services and better value for money the only way they are going to get that is by voting for a Welsh Liberal Democrat councillor."

The squeeze on public spending meant "you really need to make sure that councils focus their resources on things that really make a difference", she said.

"We have delivered better services, we have delivered better schools whilst at the same time making sure that we are not wasting tax payers money and we are keeping council tax rises low," she said.

'Paper candidates'

"We are focusing our resources. We are not standing as many paper candidates in areas where we weren't expecting to do very well and in areas where we are strong we have seen an increase in the number of candidates that are standing.

"So we are really focusing our resources, and as the old saying goes it's quality not quantity that matters."

She launched a her party's manifesto - called Better Schools, Better Services, Better Value - at the St David's shopping centre in Cardiff on Monday.

The location was intended to show how the city's economy has been boosted under a Lib Dem-led council.

Ms Williams pointed to a budget deal which she struck with the Welsh government last year which provides an extra £450 for every child receiving free school meals.

The Lib Dems go into the election defending some 140 seats.

On the campaign trail in Swansea last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said his party's role in the UK coalition government mean these will be "tougher" elections.

Elections are taking place in 21 out of 22 councils - all except Anglesey, which is being run by ministerially-appointed commissioners after years of political infighting. The Anglesey election will be in 2013.

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