Min­is­ter throws out county merger plans

North Wales Weekly News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID DEANS

ALL three plans for vol­un­tary coun­cil merg­ers in Wales were left on the scrapheap on Tues­day after the Pub­lic Ser­vices Min­is­ter Leighton An­drews threw them out.

Mr An­drews had re­ceived merger pro­pos­als from Conwy and Den­bighshire, as well as from the Vale of Glam­or­gan and Brid­gend, and from Blae­nau Gwent and Tor­faen.

Op­po­si­tion AMs and the leader of Den­bighshire coun­cil claimed that the pub­lic ser­vice min­is­ter was mov­ing away from the map of the fu­ture of lo­cal gov­ern­ment pro­posed by last year’s Wil­liams Com­mis­sion.

The first min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones said that while the Wil­liams Com­mis­sion map was pre­ferred, it wasn’t de­fin­i­tive, and called for party lead­ers to meet with him to share what they want to see hap­pen.

In a writ­ten state­ment the pub­lic ser­vices minis- ter has told AMs that he doesn’t think that any of the ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est re­ceived suf­fi­ciently meets the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s cri­te­ria for mov­ing ahead to pre­pare a full vol­un­tary merger pro­posal.

Aber­conwy Tory AM Janet Finch-Saun­ders called it a “bizarre decision” and a “slap in the face for those coun­cils that have done the work and come for­ward vol­un­tar­ily”.

The leader of Den­bighshire sug­gested the move meant Mr An­drews wasn’t in­ter­ested in the Wil­liams Com­mis­sion pro­posal and wants some­thing else.

“We had also re­ceived feed­back from the Min­is­ter’s ad­vi­sors that the Ex­pres­sions of In­ter­est for a vol­un­tary merger be­tween Conwy and Den­bighshire would be en­dorsed... The Min­is­ter clearly has a dif­fer­ent map in mind and it would have been fairer to us for this to have been made clear,” said Coun­cil­lor Hugh Evans.

First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones said: “Wil­liams is still the pre­ferred map but not the de­fin­i­tive map.

“I will be ask­ing the party lead­ers in the course of the next few weeks to meet with me in or­der to have a bet­ter as­sess­ment of what they think the map should look like.”

Mr An­drews told the Senedd cham­ber on Tues­day that he “sim­ply wasn’t pre­pared” to rub­ber stamp any ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est that came be­fore him.

“What would have been ir­re­spon­si­ble would have been to put through any ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est in which have no con­fi­dence and sub­se­quently jet­ti­soned it at the next stage,” he said.

He spelled out that, in the case of Conwy and Den­bighshire, he had con­cerns about the ro­bust­ness of the ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est, said there were ar­eas which re­quired sig­nif­i­cant ex­tra work, that the ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est did not set out a clear vi­sion for the new au­thor­ity, and said he was con­cerned of the lack of en­gage­ment and con­sul­ta­tion.

TONY MOT­TRAM

Mem­bers of the Llan­dudno in Bloom com­mit­tee next to one of their flo­ral dis­plays out­side the town hall

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.