So the Williams Commission Report on local governance is finally public and has, as suspected, recommended halving the number of local authorities in Wales with a merger of Newport and Monmouthshire on the cards.
No one would argue that local government doesn’t need to change but I think the Welsh Government needs to think very carefully before rushing headlong into yet another local government reorganisation with all the costs it would entail, money that would otherwise go into local services.
Merging a city council and a predominantly rural council means that there will be two distinct areas competing for funding and investment and risks moving democracy and accountability further away from local people.
Yes we need better, more efficient services but this is also about identity. People identify with Monmouthshire, it ‘s their historic home and also a successful brand for business. I will do all I can to save it.
Along with local authorities, organisations such as Glandwr Cymru have had to bear the heavy costs of the flooding of recent weeks. Glandwr Cymru, the charity responsible for maintaining waterways in Wales successfully identified problems on the embankment of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal near Llanfoist and took swift action to drain a 60m section to ensure no serious damage was caused.
The “Mon and Brec” is a key tourist attraction in our beautiful corner of Wales and as Chair of the Assembly’s cross party group on Waterways I will continue to work closely with the dedicated team at Glandwr Cymru to make sure the canal is fighting fit for the busy summer season later in the year.
Safely sheltered from the poor weather of January, I was pleased to welcome young people from Monmouthshire and across Wales to the Assembly recently as part of Centurion VAT’s celebration of the success of Welsh homeless charity the Wallich. The inspiring young people, responsible for some impressive inventions, successfully highlighted the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship at an early age.
On a final note, I was delighted to hear that the former leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Matthew Evans has been chosen to serve as mayor of the city for the next year from May.
This is an excellent choice. Newport couldn’t have a better champion and I am sure that his skills will be put to good use in promoting Newport both locally and on the national stage.