National and Devolved Politics

12.06.18

Wales council mergers ‘not in interests of residents,’ says Denbighshire

Denbighshire County Council has warned that plans to force councils across Wales to merge would “undermine their ability to deliver services.”

In a special council meeting yesterday, the council agreed to a formal response to the green paper proposing the reorganisation of local government in Wales, in which it said that it was not in the interest of its residents.

It argues that a credible case for the green paper consultation document has not been made, and while the council is engaged in existing and developing regional and sub-regional collaborations, it says that local authority joint committees are not a suitable vehicle for some other regional collaborations, which would remain true after local government reorganisation.

The Welsh Government plans to cut the number of councils from 22 to 10, and the council has warned that the transition process would “inevitably become a central focus for all local authorities in the lead up to the mergers,” which would undermine their ability to deliver services to residents over a number of years.

While Denbighshire council agrees that a combined Denbighshire and Conwy council could potentially achieve some savings in management, support services and elected member costs, it argues that there would “likely be a weakening of links between local communities, their elected representatives and decision making.”

The council added: “Most local authority spend is targeted at services such as education and social care, which are unlikely to produce significant cost savings as a result of having larger merged authorities.

“Many other services from waste collection and recycling to leisure facilities will not see obvious opportunities for savings that cannot be delivered by the existing local authorities either by themselves or through collaborative efforts.”

Based on past experience of local government reorganisation, Denbighshire says that the new, merged authorities would face “serious challenges especially during their first few years, but potentially for an even longer period.”

It added: “The reduced service provision over this extended period is not in the interests of our service users or local democracy and accountability.”

Denbighshire isn’t the first authority to reject the green paper, with Anglesey telling first minster Carwyn Jones to “stick his green paper in the bin where it belongs.”

The green paper consultation closes today.

Top image: Arwel Parry

 

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