Lukewarm response to council merger plan

South Wales Argus: Lukewarm response to council merger plan Lukewarm response to council merger plan

HOPES for a cross-party Assembly consensus on council mergers were given a lukewarm reaction yesterday.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has said legislation on the results of the Williams Commission could be made before May 2016 if there was cross-party consensus.

But some opposition parties said the ball was in the Welsh Government’s court with the ruling Labour group yet to give its response to the commission.

The Williams report, published on Monday, called for the number of councils in Wales to be whittled down, for Newport and Monmouthshire to merge, and for a single authority for Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen.

Mr Jones told AMs in the Senedd he wanted to meet with opposition leaders to discuss the party’s views.

He said he’d like to be in position by Easter where every political party in the Assembly had a definitive opinion.

“The process won’t be over by Easter,” he said, referring to the commission’s recommended timetable for programme arrangements to be in place.

He said it is the Welsh Government’s intention to reduce the number of councillors in the longer term.

“It won’t be possible to introduce a bill in the Assembly before the Assembly elections, but if there is an inter-party consensus to move things forward more quickly we can do that.”

But Rhodri Glyn Thomas of Plaid Cymru earlier told journalists: “It is impossible to negotiate with a government that doesn’t have a position on a commission they set up.”

His colleague Simon Thomas said discussions over using the single transferable vote, a form of proportional representation for elections, would be “central to our political negotiations”.

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Tory group, yesterday expressed scepticism that larger authorities would improve local government, although he said he didn’t fundamentally disagree with the commission’s findings.

Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, said if the First Minister was serious about getting cross party support “he would have ensured that there were party nominations to the commission”.

Comments (2)

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12:31pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Bobevans says...

The Turkeys will not vote for Christmas. It needs to be driven through by the assembly but it needs sensible timescales 2014 is not realistic. Easter is just crazy as they will only just have set the 2014/15 budgets

It needs a p[roper merger strategy, If left to their own devices councils will make a mess of it and use it to empire build. I can see them now calling for new Council headquarters and logo's etc

With the Newport Monmouth one the logical thing is to keep the Usk building and close the Magor offices. In Newport the Civic Centre should go as it will be far to big and it is an old building

They should be looking at a 20% reduction in staff numbers as a result of combing services.
The Turkeys will not vote for Christmas. It needs to be driven through by the assembly but it needs sensible timescales 2014 is not realistic. Easter is just crazy as they will only just have set the 2014/15 budgets It needs a p[roper merger strategy, If left to their own devices councils will make a mess of it and use it to empire build. I can see them now calling for new Council headquarters and logo's etc With the Newport Monmouth one the logical thing is to keep the Usk building and close the Magor offices. In Newport the Civic Centre should go as it will be far to big and it is an old building They should be looking at a 20% reduction in staff numbers as a result of combing services. Bobevans

5:02pm Wed 22 Jan 14

legend01 says...

Seems quite a sensible approach , but a "proper" merger strategy we are talking about power mad councillors here ! I would be very surprised if it gets any support, they could even fill our potholes with the savings
Seems quite a sensible approach , but a "proper" merger strategy we are talking about power mad councillors here ! I would be very surprised if it gets any support, they could even fill our potholes with the savings legend01

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