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Welsh ministers plan legislation on regional working

Words: Roger Milne
Julie James / National Assemby for Wales

Welsh local government minister Julie James has told AMs of plans to legislate for a form of democratically accountable regional working that could involve planning, transport and economic development.

She has also made it clear that the Welsh Government would like to see this approach used to boost the development of social housing.

“It would allow the collaborative use of land across Wales to get the best out of the possibilities for social housebuilding, which we want to do at pace and scale. It would allow people to share scarce human resources. It’s very difficult to get hold of all the skills necessary to build at pace and scale in every area of Wales, so it would allow us to pool those scarce human resources. And it would allow pooled budgets.”

The idea of so-called statutory joint committees has been discussed with local government and is being firmed up for inclusion in a proposed local government bill due to be published later this year.

She explained: “I intend to include in the bill powers to enable the creation of a new form of joint working vehicle – currently referred to as a statutory joint committee – which will be the blueprint design for local authorities working together.

“Local authorities will be able to request the establishment of such a body where they wish to work together based on shared interests and mutual benefit. This can be in relation to any service that local authorities believe can be delivered more efficiently and effectively in this way.

“This new form of joint working vehicle will be a body corporate capable of employing staff and holding assets and funding. I also propose that Welsh ministers will be able to require local authority functions to be delivered regionally in this way for certain service areas.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) told The Planner: “Leaders are keen to engage constructively and try to shape these proposals to empower and provide flexibility to authorities and the WLGA has sought assurances and clarification on several areas as the details are developed further over the summer.”

Image credit | National Assembly for Wales