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Council mergers on the agenda again


At the Assembly this week the Welsh Labour Government will announce its official response to the Williams Commission report which suggested that the existing 22 local authorities should be cut to around half through a series of mergers.
There is unlikely to be anything surprising in that response ad Carywn Jones and his Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths have both already had a great deal to say to the press about their plans.
They will also begin the process of putting legislation in place to allow councils to merge voluntarily. Councils will be encouraged to do so with the reward being that they will be able to postpone elections have their elections to 2018 instead of 2017.
This could have some attraction to Labour Councillors in RCT who may be fearing a backlash following the cuts they have made and the manner in which they have made them. The Welsh Local Government Association of which RCT is a member is strongly against the proposals which would see RCT merge with Merthyr.
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats argue that the reorganisation of public services needs more than simply rubbing out the lines between existing local authorities. We see little gain in aligning two deprived areas such as RCT and Merthyr? Council Tax here is already ludicrously high because there are so many Band A properties and so to up the overall amount sufficiently there needs to be a proportionately higher level of tax per property.
The argument that we should follow the borders of Cwm Taf Health Board no longer holds much water as under the new South Wales Programme some services will be removed from the Royal Glamorgan to Princess of Wales.
If there is to be a review of public service delivery then it should be a full review of how best the people of Wales can be served and how to provide value for money, not simple a desktop exercise.

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