Llanelli Town Council bid for freedom rejected
An attempt by Llanelli mayor Winston Lemon to wrestle powers away from Carmarthenshire Council was rejected last night.
There were stormy scenes at the town council meeting when the mayor's call for greater independence was debated.
Mr Lemon had questioned the unitary authority's spending of public money, and argued that there was a need to regain control in Llanelli.
Council leader Carl Lucas said no-one on the town council could disagree that more functions or powers should be devolved to a more local tier of government.
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But he added: "What I don't think we can pursue is a significant cost burden brought by the duplication of posts and services on the people that we represent as a consequence of any support we give."
He successfully moved a motion, backed by all Labour councillors, urging the Welsh Assembly to undertake a comprehensive review of local government.
Mr Lucas said its aim should be to reduce the present number of local authorities, freeing up resources to enable devolution of powers and services without increasing the burden on council tax payers.
His motion meant Mr Lemon's proposal for Llanelli Town Council to become a unitary authority was defeated.
Mr Lemon said he was amazed the debate had become political.
Speaking before the meeting, he had described Llanelli town centre as "a disgrace" and said much needed to be done to revive it.
He said there was plenty of public support for Llanelli to leave Carmarthenshire Council, though a final decision would not be made for some time.
Carmarthenshire Council has dismissed councillor Lemon's independence plan as a "non-starter".
And it defended its investment in Llanelli, pointing to the £25 million new Eastgate development, which includes shops, an Odeon cinema, offices, and the new £15 million Y Ffwrnes Theatre.