Shock news on coun­cil merger

North Wales Weekly News - - POLLITICS / OPINIONS - BY JANET FINCH-SAUN­DERS AM for Aber­conwy

Lo­cal

Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the Wil­liams Com­mis­sion, the stim­u­lus is now in place for the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to press ahead with Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment re­or­gan­i­sa­tion. There are many wide and vary­ing opin­ions on whether this is achiev­able, af­ford­able and whether it will ac­tu­ally de­liver in real terms the changes that are needed and the ef­fi­cien­cies re­quired.

This week saw the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment bill pub­lished and pre­sented to the Na­tional Assem­bly for Wales. The Min­is­ter Leighton An­drews AM re­leased a state­ment on Tues­day called Paving the Way to­wards set­ting out the plans for vol­un­tary merg­ing au­thor­i­ties and other im­prove­ments re­quired for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment in Wales.

Gov­ern­ment Re­form

Shock News

On Tues­day many AMs were be­wil­dered and be­mused by the decision of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Leighton An­drews AM to re­ject the Vol­un­tary Merger Pro- posal put for­ward by Conwy and Den­bighshire County Bor­ough Coun­cil. This came as such a shock con­sid­er­ing that this was the only ac­tual qual­i­fy­ing ap­pli­ca­tion that fit­ted in with the Wil­liams Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions and the map­ping re­quire­ments.

There was huge dis­ap­point­ment as both au­thor­i­ties, to in­clude the lead­er­ship, of­fi­cers and elected mem­bers have spent months work­ing through t pos­als in a strat and con­sci­en­tio man­ner and wer pre­par­ing to go through to the next stage.

This is such a let down es­pe­cially when Conwy County Bor­ough Coun­cil have seen a very poor set­tle ment once again b the Welsh Lab Gov­ern­ment, pilin more pres­sure fo charged with the de­liv­ery of our most vi­tal and im­por­tant pub­lic ser­vices.

This decision now raises many ques­tions and in­deed many con­cerns as to whether there is a move by the Welsh Labour Gov­ern­ment to see a fur­ther sub­stan­tial cut to the num­ber of Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Wales to a num­ber as low as six, thereby tak­ing ser­vices very far away from those they serve. This has pre­vi­ously been hinted to by the Min­is­ter n ear­lier ple­nary n and it is clear cur­rently there is ry lit­tle support r th­ese forced merg­ers to go ahead.

Next week sees yet another white pa­per re­leased that would have ed to a draft bill or con­sul­ta­tion n fur­ther pro­pos

for Lo­cal Gov­ment re­or­gan­isaut it re­mains to be o what the di­rec­tion of travel will be.

ES­CORTED HOL­I­DAY

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