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Minister cold-shoulders first three proposed voluntary mergers

Words: Roger Milne

Minster for public services Leighton Andrews has announced that none of the three proposed voluntary council mergers met the Government’s criteria and won’t be sanctioned by the administration.

The minister revealed this as the government published the legislation that would allow voluntary mergers and enable the administration prepare for local government reform.

"I am disappointed to report that on the basis of this assessment I am not persuaded that any one of these expressions of Interest sufficiently meets the criteria for moving ahead to prepare a full voluntary merger proposal” he said.

The proposed voluntary mergers were:

1. Torfaen County Borough Council and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

2. Bridgend County Borough Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council

3. Conwy County Borough Council and Denbighshire County Council

Andrews added: “While there were some positive aspects to each expression of interest, the prospectus was clear on what would be required. This included the need for both applicant authorities to set out a compelling vision for the new authority and to provide assurance that post merger arrangements would reduce complexity and increase coherence and coterminosity of public services.” 

He later told assembly members in the Senedd that he was looking for "fundamental reform" of local government, not the creation of "bigger councils going about their business in the same way".

First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for Assembly party leaders to meet to agree a new map for local government.