Political row as Llanelli independence bid is rejected
A ROW broke out between Labour and Plaid as an attempt by Llanelli to wrest powers away from Carmarthenshire Council was turned down by town councillors.
There were stormy scenes when the town council met on Wednesday night to debate the call for greater independence, by mayor Winston Lemon.
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.
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 Government to undertake a comprehensive review of local government.
Mr Lucas said its aim should be to reduce the present number of local authorities, thus freeing up resources to enable devolution of powers and services without increasing the burden on council tax payers. Mr Lucas's motion meant Mr Lemon's motion on Llanelli Town Council becoming a unitary authority was defeated.
Mr Lemon said he was amazed the debate had become political.
"The motion is about us supporting the proposal that we go as a unitary authority in principle, and then afterwards we can then discuss the way forward and which way we can go about it," he said.
"I am sorry this has become political."
Speaking before the meeting, Mr Lemon 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. Mr Lemon added that it had been Plaid councillors who had voted to save closure-threatened care homes in Llanelli.
Carmarthenshire Council has dismissed Mr Lemon's "independence" plan as a "non-starter". And it has defended its investment in Llanelli, pointing to the £25 million Eastgate development and the new £15 million Y Ffwrnes Theatre.