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‘Arrogant’ Welsh government should apologise and set a new tone

The Welsh government’s tone is too often “hectoring” and “arrogant,” the local government minister has stated.

In a blog post, Alun Davies said that the government should apologise, change its approach, and join the debate over the future of local government “with a degree of humility.”

Outlining a new approach, Davies argued that the relationship between the Welsh Government and councils needed to be rooted firmly in the values of local democracy, and that there must be a belief that “local government leaders and strong councils are better able to deliver excellent public services” than a “series of instructions from the Bay.”

In a letter to all local government leaders, he has asked for their opinions on which powers should be provided to local government, and what freedoms and flexibilities they require to deliver their mandates and ambitions.

The answers that he receives will be published, along with a route map to deliver those new powers.

However, he warned that new powers alone will not answer the question of sustainability: “The leader of a rural authority told me last week of the reductions they were making – hundreds of jobs lost over the last few years,” he wrote.

“And it is this erosion of the public workforce with its inevitable impact on services provided and the terms of service for those who keep their jobs that worries me most.

“No-one is a winner today. And no-one that I have met wants more of the same.”

Davies said that the Welsh government needed a new tone rooted in respect for the pressures faced by local councillors and public service workers: “A tone and an approach which seeks to build together a joint venture to provide local authorities with the new powers they need.

“And then we need to build together the structures that will enable authorities to deliver on those new powers.”

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