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Council report calls Welsh local authority reform plans ‘wrong in principle’

Welsh government plans to reorganise local authorities have been described as "wrong in principle, unduly prescriptive and unworkable in practice" in a council report.

In February the Welsh government put a white paper, Reforming Local Government - Power to Local People, out to consultation, detailing its plans to make changes to councils in Wales. However councillors in Swansea have now been advised not respond to the proposals due to serious concerns about them.

The Swansea Council report, prepared by corporate services director Dean Taylor, says: “Council is advised not to respond to the detailed questions set out within the consultation document — many of the proposals are wrong in principle, unduly prescriptive and unworkable in practice.”

It adds that any review of the public sector in Wales "must start with a strong vision of where we want to be in say 10 or 20 years' time" and that the White Paper "should recognise the old adage that 'form follow function' and indeed both follow foresight”.

One of the main criticisms of the bill highlighted is that the Welsh government has refused to specify how many councils it wants.

Last September the minister for public services, Leighton Andrews AM, set out plans for local authorities to merge voluntarily, after a report from the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery recommended mergers between councils and a reduction in numbers from the current 22 to 10 or 12.

However in January this year Andrews rejected plans from the only six councils to propose mergers, saying he didn’t think any of the expressions of interest received sufficiently met the Welsh government’s criteria. 

Authorities in Wales are still no clearer on the criteria and what number of councils the government wants.

Responding to the White Paper the Welsh Local Government Association said its biggest weakness is the "absence of a map of local authority structures and detail about the related costs of reorganisation".

The consultation is due to close next week, on 28 April.

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25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

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