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Labour’s fag packet decision on merger transition

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Welsh Conservatives have responded to developments on the future structure of Welsh local government, including the Labour proposal that councils which voluntarily merge could have their term extended beyond 2017.

Speaking after addressing the annual conference of the Welsh Local Government Association, the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:

“If Carwyn Jones is to press ahead with a controversial reorganisation of local government, the opportunity must be taken to reform the entire relationship between the Welsh Labour Government and directly elected local authorities.

“The current subservient model, where councils are treated like servants of the Welsh Labour Government, is unhealthy and represents a barrier to greater innovation amongst local authorities.

“Any change to council boundaries must respect the principle of local accountability and retain a direct link between taxpayers and their community representatives.

“It seems odd for Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Wales to commit to consultation when Carwyn Jones is shortly expected to ride roughshod by rubber stamping the Labour Party’s position.”

Meanwhile, Mark Isherwood AM, Shadow Minister for Local Government, has responded to the Welsh Labour Government’s unexpected statement that councils which voluntarily merge could have their mandate extended by a year.

Mark Isherwood said, “If the Welsh Government does wish to pursue a costly reorganisation of councils, there will need to be detailed transition arrangements and shadow authorities to take over the running of local services.

“Welsh councils are currently in limbo due to Labour’s lack of leadership and direction, which is preventing progress on collaboration and sharing services.

“It is extraordinary for Labour Ministers to announce a fag packet decision on transition arrangements without having properly consulted with councils and before the publication of an independent cost analysis of merger proposals.”

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