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Local planning authorities could be cut to just six, claims minister

Words: Roger Milne
The number of Welsh councils could be cut to as few as six, the public services minister Leighton Andrews has warned, as he urges them to seek voluntary mergers and make further cuts in administrative budgets.

He has set up an independent review to find where savings can be made. Councils have a deadline of today (Friday) for proposing voluntary mergers like the one now on the cards involving Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and Torfaen County Borough Council, and separately Bridgend County Borough Council with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The findings of the administration costs review will be considered during the Welsh Government's local government reform programme. This comes in the wake of the Williams Commission recommendation that the number of councils should be cut to between 10 and 12.

Andrews has said "significant change" is coming and has signalled the idea of cutting the number of local authorities to as few as six.

He said he expected councils to focus "limited resources" on frontline services for the public and trim backroom spending.