Wales

Tory's anger at party failure to give him assembly seat

Chris Smart
Image caption Chris Smart was in line to take over from Alun Cairns as an AM

A Conservative councillor has accused his party of showing "total disregard" for voters after failing to give him a seat in the Welsh assembly.

Chris Smart could have entered the assembly after South Wales West AM Alun Cairns became an MP at the election.

But Mr Smart, who was in line to take over the seat on the regional list, says he is "flabbergasted" the party has asked Mr Cairns to remain an AM.

The Tories said Mr Smart should raise any concerns with the party management.

Mr Cairns offered to resign as an AM after he was elected MP for the marginal seat of Vale of Glamorgan on 6 May.

He offered his resignation as an AM almost immediately, but the decision of the Welsh Conservative Board of Management to ask him to stay on has just emerged.

Mr Cairns has said he will stay on as an AM until the election next year, but will not draw his assembly salary.

Image caption Alun Cairns, an AM for 11 years, is now also Vale of Glamorgan MP

Mr Smart, a member of Porthcawl Town Council, was the number two on the Conservatives' regional list for South Wales West at the last assembly election.

That would have meant that if Mr Cairns's resignation had been accepted, he would have entered the assembly without an election.

Lack of representation

A spokesperson for Mr Cairns said: "Alun has respectfully accepted the board's decision and has previously advised the assembly's fees office that he will not be taking a salary for his work as an AM".

Mr Smart said: "I'm flabbergasted to be truthful. It's total disregard for the people of South West Wales more than anything."

He said that while Mr Cairns was "making his push" to become the Vale of Glamorgan MP the South Wales West area was "overlooked" and that since he had been elected that was "certainly the case".

"There have been complaints from Bridgend and Neath about the lack of representation. His [Mr Cairns's] Westminster seat is not within the South Wales West area.

He also said Mr Cairns should have resigned to the Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas in the first instance.

In response to Mr Smart's comments, the Conservatives said they would not make any further comment.

'Hoodwinked'

They said that if Mr Smart had any concerns he should raise them with the party's management.

Labour demanded an explanation of what it called Mr Cairns's "double jobbing".

Bridgend Labour MP Madeleine Moon said that Mr Cairns had "hoodwinked" Vale of Glamorgan voters by saying he would step down as an AM if he was elected to parliament.

She said the episode made a mockery of David Cameron's claims towards a "new politics."

Dai Lloyd, the Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West, said: "It is very difficult to see how Mr Cairns can hope to carry out his work as an AM for one region and the MP for a constituency in another.

"At best it shows a complete lack of respect for the people who elected him."

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