Cardiff’s ruling Liberal Democrats have launched a blistering attack on Labour group leader Heather Joyce after revealing she spoke just eight times at Cardiff full council meetings in a year.
In a move set to spark further tensions ahead of local elections on May 3, the Lib Dems today accuse Councillor Joyce of being Labour leader “in name only” as they publish a document comparing councillor contributions to the monthly City Hall meetings from April 2011 until March this year.
The figures show Coun Joyce made eight speeches during the main proceedings of full council meetings – fewer than half as many as former Labour leaders Ralph Cook and Russell Goodway.
But Labour last night issued a stinging rebuke, saying the move was a sign of “desperation”.
The figures released by the Lib Dems, taken from the official record of contributions, show Coun Joyce failed to make speeches in half of full council meetings – including four successive sessions from October 2011 to January 2012.
Conservative group leader David Walker spoke 24 times, Plaid Cymru’s Neil McEvoy 15 times and the Independent councillors Jayne Cowan and Adrian Robson a combined 27 times.
Those figures do not include contributions made during questions to executive members or committee chairs.
Council leader Rodney Berman, who spoke 46 times during the same period, said: “I am happy for voters to draw their own conclusions from this data.
“However, with ballot papers going out to postal voters, I really think Labour should be straight with voters as to who really runs their group on Cardiff council and who will be in charge of the group after 3 May.”
Deputy leader Judith Woodman writes on the Freedom Central blog today: “These figures suggest that Labour’s leader is that in name only – and that it’s someone else pulling the strings.”
The figures also show Coun Joyce tabled fewer formal questions to Coun Berman as leader of the council than other opposition party leaders, posing only two compared with 15 from the Conservative leader and 11 from the Independent leader.
But Coun Joyce last night gave a robust riposte to the figures. The Llanrumney grandmother told the Echo: “I’m nobody’s puppet. I’m my own person.
“I speak when necessary and I don’t just make idle speeches like some in other parties do.”
She added: “If [collating these figures] is all they have to do with their time, perhaps it would have been better if they had been making this council work for the last four years instead of checking up on what I’m doing.
“I’m getting on with my job of getting Labour elected.”
Ely councillor and former Labour leader Coun Goodway blasted the figures as an “absolutely meaningless comparison”.
He said he was “absolutely not” returning as party leader and described the Lib Dems’ publication of the figures as “desperation at its worst”.
Coun Cook, whom Coun Joyce replaced as group leader last year, called the data “preposterous” and added: “If I’m elected and Heather is elected I’m nominating Heather for leader.”