THE latest set of proposals for local government reform in Wales have been called “an unnecessary distraction” by the leader of Caerphilly council.

The possible shake-up, announced by the Welsh Government in March, could see the number of local authorities reduced from 22 to 10.

Addressing the council during the leader’s statement, Cllr David Poole covered topics from the financial situation to service delivery and talking with residents to help shape the authority’s future.

The Pengam ward member said: “The new green paper is the latest instalment in the ever-changing discussion about the future of the 22 local authorities and, to be quite frank, I believe this debate is an unnecessary distraction.

“I’m sure all members in this chamber agree that our future focus needs to be on protecting services in the face of an increased financial pressure.

“The latest plans suggest that Caerphilly and Newport councils should merge, but I’m sure it will come as no surprise that there is no support in either council for this suggested way forward.

“My priority is serving the residents of this county and I believe we are big enough, strong enough and resilient enough to stand on our own.

“As you know, Caerphilly council will be providing an official response to the consultation over the coming weeks.

“These are exciting and challenging times for us here in Caerphilly and there is a tangible feeling across the council that we are finally moving forward after experiencing a difficult few years.”

“There’s no denying that difficult decisions will be needed over the next few years, but we are prepared for them.”

Three proposals are under review – a voluntary merger of councils or alternative proposals put forward, some mergers taking place in 2022 and others in 2026, or all mergers occurring in 2022.

The other proposed merger in Gwent could see Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire and Torfaen become one authority area.

Outside Gwent, the proposals could see the following mergers: Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend with Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff and Swansea with Port Talbot.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire could be merged, as would Flintshire and Wrexham while Conwy and Denbighshire and Anglesey and Gwynedd could become respective single authorities.

Powys would stay as one single authority area.