Lib Dems attack 'arrogance and laziness' of councils

Media caption,

Mark Williams predicts more Lib Dem councillors will be elected in May

Local government in Wales is rife with "complacency, arrogance and laziness", Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mark Williams has said.

Launching his party's campaign for May's local elections in Cardigan, he promised to bring "fresh talent, new ideas and passion" to councils.

The party is defending 75 of Wales' 1,254 council seats, having gained councillors since the 2012 poll.

It is currently part of the Tory-led coalition running Monmouthshire.

The Lib Dems won 72 council seats in Wales five years ago - down from 165 in 2008 - in the first set of national elections held after the party formed a coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster in 2010.

Since 2012, the party has made a net gain of three council seats as a result of by-elections and defections.

But this year's local elections, on 4 May, follow disastrous polls in the previous two years.

In 2015, the Liberal Democrats lost two Welsh seats at the general election, leaving Mr Williams as the party's only Welsh MP from Wales.

In 2016, Kirsty Williams returned to Cardiff Bay as the party's only AM in the May assembly election after four of her colleagues lost their seats.

Soon after, she was appointed to the Labour-led Welsh Government as education secretary.

Image caption,
Mark Williams (in beige jacket) at the campaign launch in Cardigan

At the campaign launch on Wednesday, Mr Williams said "our politics has never been more divided" following last June's Brexit vote.

"These elections offer people and communities across Wales the opportunity to stand up for decent, tolerant values and for ideas that will make our communities stronger, more open and more prosperous," he said.

"We need fresh talent, new ideas and passion in our local county and city halls to get things done.

"No more should communities have to accept the complacency, arrogance and laziness rife in our local councils. We won't accept it."

Mr Williams said he would fight "tooth and nail" to make local authorities in Wales more transparent, and was optimistic about the party's chances ahead of polling day.

"Five or six years ago we were leading some of the principal authorities in Cardiff and Swansea, in Bridgend and Wrexham and in other places as well," he told BBC Wales.

"It's been a hard few years but we need to build on our position," Mr Williams added.

"I'm confident at the end of this process we'll have more councillors elected."

The Liberal Democrats hope that, as a consistently pro-EU party, they can boost their levels of support at these local elections by being seen to speak up for voters who wanted to remain in the European Union.

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