The decision by the Public Services Minister to reject the bid by Bridgend Council to voluntarily merge with the Vale of Glamorgan was a major disappointment. If we are to join together councils in this way then this is a natural coupling.
The Minister’s announcement demonstrated how unimaginative the Welsh Labour Government is in terms of local government reorganisation. The danger is that if it tries to impose a pattern rather than allow councils to develop them organically and sustainably, based on natural communities then we will have to revisit this process again in another 20 years. That would be expensive and wasteful.
If we are to continue with this botched agenda of shoving together existing councils instead of a proper redrawing of boundaries, the least that Welsh Labour Ministers could do is listen to the wishes of councils themselves. Instead, Labour seem hell bent on ignoring local democracy and ploughing ahead with their preferred combinations at all costs.
In order to create sustainable local councils that will stand the test of time, it must not be done over the heads of existing councils and completely against their wishes and those of local people.