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AN alternative vision for Powys County Council is being offered by the Liberal Democrats.

And with 42 candidates standing across the county, Liberal Democrat group leader James Gibson-Watt is hoping that his party will be in power come after the local government election

Different directions would be taken in several key areas including school reorganisation and finances.

He also believes in the need for more discussions to take place with backbench and opposition councillors before cabinet members take major decisions.

He also wants to review the planning department, making it “slicker and more efficient” so that it can help drive economic regeneration in the county.

Mr Gibson-Watt said:

“We need to re-focus the schools transformation programme, I’m very unhappy that some major decisions were taken right at the end of the last council which will, to a degree, bind the hands of the next council.

“For me schools transformation should have been conducted on a cross party basis,

“Our aim is to find a way to keep as many schools as possible by pursuing a clustering approach which other local authorities have successfully done.”

This means that several primary schools work together on some aspects such as the curriculum and economies of scale

Mr Gibson-Watt added:

“Schools are the hearts of the communities and the impact on villages is very dramatic and negative when you close them.

“We have to get control of the council’s budgets, there are too many of them not being well managed and consistently overspending.

“There would be a fundamental review of the capital (building) programme because in the medium to long term it looks unaffordable.

“We  cannot go on raising council tax in the way that we have for the last five years.

“The medium term financial plan leave five percent rises each year of the council tax absolutely out of the question, we won’t be going there.”

“If there has to be an increase it will be kept to a minimum.”

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