A WALES Assembly minister has been accused of holding community councillors “to ransom”.

Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant came under fire at a meeting of Acton Community Council in Wrexham.

Mr Sargeant, Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, has written to all community and town councils in Wales, outlining the main provisions of the Local Government Measure and the benefits of joining the One Voice Wales organisation.

The Minister said the body had a valuable role to play and membership would ensure the views of community councils were taken into consideration.

However, some Acton community councillors were not happy.

Admission to One Voice Wales is based on population and, with more than 10,000 residents in Acton, it was suggested the cost to the community council of joining would be between £800 and £1,000.

Cllr Anne Evans said: “It seems our democratic right is being held to ransom. It is wrong to be told to pay a big fat fee to join One Voice Wales. It is not our money, it is the ratepayers’ money.”

County Cllr Geoff Lowe said: “No doubt some of the proposals would be welcomed but is too costly to join. It is the wrong time.

“I would not go along with the remarks about being blackmailed, but it is certainly threatening.”

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman later said One Voice Wales played a valuable role in supporting local councils.

He added: “There is no compulsion for any town or community councils to join.
However, there are benefits to being part of this national organisation. This includes keeping them abreast of policy developments, engaging with key partners, as well as more practical support in the form of advice and training programmes.”