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Welsh Government announces plans to cut the number of councils

The Welsh Government has revealed plans this week to reduce the number of authorities in the country to just 10.

Ministers say the plans would make “larger, stronger” councils and the government has launched a consultation on the strategy, which would consist of both voluntary and mandatory integration.

Similar plans were put forward three years ago, when officials wanted to replace the existing 22 counties and boroughs with either eight or nine new authorities.

Councils have been told that, if they support these proposals in future and go through with the mergers, there could be greater devolution of powers across the regions.

“I recognise there are a number of challenges in creating larger, stronger authorities; but these challenges are not insurmountable,” commented Alun Davies, Welsh secretary for local government and public services. “If we do proceed with one of the options for creating larger authorities in the future, we will provide early practical support to local authorities.”

The Welsh Government will now attempt to produce an ‘agreed template’ for future reforms, which will determine how mergers would take place.

In response to the announcement, a spokesperson from the Welsh LGA said there needed to be more clarity on the proposals.

In a statement, the group said: “This announcement has caused disquiet and confusion. It has arrived midway through the Assembly term and following the recent Welsh Government assurance that no reorganisation would occur for 10 years.

“It is not surprising that local authorities will want to clarify and digest the implications of another shift in government policy in an area where there have been a significant number of previous reports and commissions. The proposals are yet to be fully costed and most academic analysis concludes that such reform programmes rarely deliver the savings or changes in performance that were hoped.”

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