Wales politics

Heavy losses for Lib Dems as they lose prized Cardiff and Swansea

The Welsh Liberal Democrats' leader said voters had sent the UK government a message after her party suffered heavy losses in local elections.

Kirsty Williams' party lost control of Swansea and Cardiff to Labour.

Ms Williams said the Lib Dems tried to fight the elections on local issues, but attention had been focused on Westminster.

People were not feeling the benefit of the decisions taken by the coalition UK government, she said.

Cardiff and Swansea councils are big scalps for Labour. Labour also made gains at Lib Dem-led Wrexham, but failed to take overall control.

The Lib Dems' leader in Cardiff, Rodney Berman lost his seat in the Plasnewydd ward.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Ms Williams said she felt sorry for her party's "hard-working councillors".

"What we have seen tonight is a very bad night for any political party that doesn't have Labour in its title."

The pendulum had swung back to Labour from the last local elections in 2008, she said.

"It's a particularly high price for the Welsh Liberal Democrats because we did so well four years ago," she added.

"We tried very hard in the election to make the election about local issues.

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Media captionJohn Dixon lost his Lib Dem seat in Adamsdown in Cardiff and said it was a reaction to Westminster politics

"But the Labour party and the media continue to focus on the situation in Westminster and people have indeed responded to that."

She added there was a "very clear message from Welsh electors to the Westminster government and we can't get away from that either".

"The price of power in Westminster is a particularly high one at the moment.

"I think it's clear that our colleagues in Westminster are taking some tough decisions and the benefits of those tough decisions are yet to be felt."

Cardiff central's Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott dismissed calls from former MP Lembit Opik for Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to stand down. She said Mr Opik "is completely out of touch with the party".

"We did absolutely the right thing going in to coalition, we didn't have any choice at the time. If we didn't the economy would've gone in to free fall," she said.

"If Labour had won the election the would've been in the same position as we are now."

Ms Willott said Mr Clegg was doing "a really good job of holding the party together" and the party had been expecting a disappointing night at the polls.

"That's always the way in mid term elections. The government is doing things that people are not going to enjoy," she added.

"It's been a really difficult night for us and we were expecting it to be difficult. What's sad is we've lost some really, really good hardworking councillors.

"It's not a complete wipe out."

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