Council merger plans a waste of time and insulting


Concerns for future of Community Councils

The Welsh Government’s attempt at reforming Local Authority is a waste of time and money, say Plaid Cymru councillors in Denbighshire.

Denbighshire Council met today to agree on its official response to the Welsh Government’s Green Paper into Local Government Reform.

Plaid Cymru Group Leader, Cllr Arwel Roberts, said: “The Labour Government is trying to force county councils to merge against the will of the people and local democratic opinion.

“Four years ago, when mergers were being considered, Denbighshire Council and Conwy Council spent precious time and money to come up with a plan that brought both authorities together. However the same Labour Government rejected that offer and abandoned its merger plans. Now it’s got the cheek to ask councils to do the same thing all over again, only this time it’s threatening to force a merger on councils if we don’t agree. It’s a waste of the council’s limited resources and frankly insulting.

“The Labour Government needs to respect local democracy and realise that people value contact with their local representatives. These top-down proposals would take democracy further away from the communities they serve. County Councillors are far from perfect, as the Plaid group regularly points out, but the answer to our problems isn’t to make them less democratic and more distant. If the Welsh Government is serious about tackling perceived problems in local authorities then it should start by properly funding services, instead of this annual chipping away at core grants, forcing councils to cut key services.

“The Labour Government seems to have lost sight of the key issue, which is the quality of services that councils provide. We should instead look for greater collaborative working with neighbouring authorities, and greater sharing of best practice to ensure that each council performs to the very best of its abilities.”

Plaid Cymru also warned community and town councils to be ready for a Welsh Government diktat forcing the merger of those smaller councils, which would result in communities losing their identities.

Cllr Roberts said: “The Welsh Government has made things extremely difficult for town and community councils with new rules around employing clerks and payments to councillors. Some of our smaller councils are at their wits’ end and are struggling to keep up with the new requirements. They’re telling us that they’re concerned that the Welsh Government has an agenda to force their mergers, which would result in many communities losing their identity and democratic voice. The Welsh Government needs to come clean about its plans for our town and community councils.”

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