A CONSERVATIVE Assembly Member for south east Wales has claimed the Welsh government’s proposals for reducing the number of local authorities in Wales will lead to “democratic disarray”.

William Graham AM was responding to the first signs of Welsh Government action on the Williams Commission proposals for merging Welsh local authorities.

The re-organisation of local authorities was outlined in the report which recommended the 22 local authorities in Wales should be cut to 10, 11 or 12.

Addressing the Welsh Local Government Association conference in Llandudno last week, local government minister Lesley Griffiths directed councils to mergers that must lead to “profound change” in how they work and not be simply a “cosmetic re-drawing” of boundaries.

She announced plans to allow local authorities which voluntarily merge to hold their elections for the new authorities a year later than those which do not.

But Mr Graham criticised the lack of direction or criteria.

He said: “The minister’s proposal will, I believe, lead to democratic disarray. We need clarity in our election processes if we are to engage with people and inspire more of them to cast their votes.

“They should not be driven into confusion about how or why their council has merged or failed to merge. This will happen if councils not merging hold their elections in 2017, based on their existing authorities, while those councils wanting to merge early being allowed to hold their elections year later.”

Mr Graham has tabled the following question to be asked in Plenary tomorrow: “What assessment has the First Minister made of the impact on local democracy if all local authority elections are not contested in the same year?”