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Owen missing out a step

RCT N

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has told the BBC that council leaders should "pick up the baton" and take the lead in reforming local government.
In January a report commissioned by the Welsh Labour Government recommended that the number of Councils in Wales should be cut from 22 to 12 or even less. The Williams Commission argue this could deliver public services more effectively.
Labour MP Mr Smith says councils should be trusted to drive forward any possible mergers and argued that reform needs to be a collaborative process and "not something this imposed from above".
Is he forgetting that Local Government is of course devolved, and those "above" he is referring to are his own Labour colleagues in the Welsh Government. Five months after the commission report the response from the Welsh Labour Government has still not been forthcoming. Mr Smith's intervention in something that has absolutely nothing to do with Westminster will no doubt annoy some Labour members.
The report suggests that instead of a wholesale reorganisation of boundaries there should be a merger of existing councils, including a joining of RCT and Merthyr. Mr Smith has of course neglected to give any opinion on what he thinks such a merger would mean for the people of his constituency and whether or not he is in favour of such a move.
RCT and Merthyr already share the same Health Board - Cwm Taf. They also collaborate on various other projects so the groundwork has it seems been set.
However RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats argue that the reorganisation of public services needs more than simply pushing together existing local authorities. What possible gain can there be 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.
Maybe Mr Smith would be better turning his attention to addressing some of the issues involved and looking at how he can try and ensure his own constituents do not lose out by such a merger - forced or otherwise.
Karen Roberts

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