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Welsh planning authorities to merge

Words: Roger Milne
Welsh Assembly building

The Welsh government has published its response to the report earlier this year which recommended that the country’s 22 local authorities should be reduced by around half as a result of mergers, in the form of a Reforming Local Government white paper.

Ministers have set in motion the the law-making process to allow councils to merge voluntarily, and to impose financial restrictions on those that choose not to do so. Consultation on the proposals will run until 1 October.
Under these proposals the 22 councils, all of which are planning authorities, will become just a dozen:
Isle of Anglesey and Gwynedd
Conwy and Denbighshire
Flintshire and Wrexham
Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire
Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend
Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan
Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen
Monmouthshire and Newport
At this stage ministers are not planning to introduce the bill to merge authorities until after the next Welsh Assembly elections in May 2016, but they have signalled they intend to publish a draft bill for consultation in the autumn of 2015.
Before that ministers will publish a bill in January next year which will provide the powers necessary to enable and facilitate preparatory work. Under this timetable, the first elections to the new local authorities won’t take place until May 2019
Local government minister Lesley Griffiths said: “We want local authorities which are designed for the 21st Century so this white paper is about reform in every sense of the word.
“Merging local authorities is part of this, but changing the way councils makes decisions, improving how they connect with their communities and developing how they scrutinise and improve their own performance is as important to achieve better services and outcomes for the people of Wales.”
Download the Reforming Local Government white paper (pdf). The public consultation will run until 1 October 2014.