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Old wounds re-opened on council mergers

There are fresh concerns over ‘forced council mergers’ after comments over the weekend by Local Government Secretary – Alun Davies.

In interviews, he reasserted the case for fewer local authorities and warned that the debate has gone on too long.

Speaking to the BBC, he said:

"We need to come to some fundamental decisions about where we go from here.

"I've heard nobody seriously argue that 22 is the right number. I think that's a fair view of most council leaders that I've met, and I think (of) most people across the country.”

However, opposition politicians have warned the Cabinet Secretary to caution against wholesale changes without the “consent” of local residents.

Shadow Local Government Secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders, said:

“These comments will re-open old wounds over local government reorganisation, and the Cabinet Secretary needs to come clean over what exactly he is proposing.

“We don’t want to see the return of a situation where cabinet secretaries are trying to force councils to merge.

“Nor do we want empty promises from Labour politicians about how much money could be saved through mergers.

“After all, those of us with long enough memories, recall only too well the cost of Labour’s last reorganisation – of local health boards – which led to huge deficits and unprecedented pressure on frontline staff.

“Where councils can work together, share services and save money, they have the backing of the Welsh Conservatives – but only with the consent of local people.”