Log in | Register

14 Welsh planning authorities face the chop

Words: Roger Milne

Public service minister Leighton Andrews’ proposals for the future shape of local government in Wales were published on Wednesday (17 June).

Under the plan the present 22 local authority planning authorities would be reduced to either eight or nine depending on the outcome in North Wales.

Andrews' blueprint envisages the return of historic counties such as Dyfed and West Glamorgan.

Dyfed would be brought back by re-merging Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, and West Glamorgan would return by joining Swansea once more with Neath Port Talbot.

Cardiff would merge with the Vale of Glamorgan, while a merger between Caerphilly, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Monmouthshire would create Wales’s biggest council, with a population of nearly 600,000.

Bridgend would join Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.

The minister will consult further on whether to move to two or three councils in north Wales.

In the eight-council model, Ynys Mon, Gwynedd and Conwy would merge, as would Denbighshire, Wrexham and Flintshire. The alternative would see Conwy and Denbighshire merge.

The minister insisted: “The case for fewer local authorities in Wales is compelling and widely accepted. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to reform and reshape our councils to drive funding into improving frontline services. We will drive down the cost of politics and administration in local government.”

He added: “The case in North Wales is finely balanced between two or three local authorities. We therefore feel that there is a case for a further debate and would welcome views.”

Andrews promised a draft Mergers and Reform Bill in the autumn.

Politically, there is no guarantee at this moment that the Welsh Labour Government will be able to implement the changes.

Uncertainty remains over both the economics and the practicality of the reforms which, on the current timetable elections for the shadow new authorities wouldn’t take place until 2019, with the new entities up and running finally in 2020.