The Welsh Liberal Democrats Local Government Spokesperson, Peter Black, has spoken of his concern that councils not earmarked for merger by the Welsh Government will end up funding incentives for others to voluntarily join together ahead of legislation that will enforce a major reorganisation of local government in Wales.
Mr. Black raised his concern with the new Minister for Public Services, who yesterday announced in the Senedd that he was providing financial incentives for Councils who agree to voluntarily merge before the next Assembly elections. So far Denbighshire and Clwyd have an expressed an interest in this process.
"At a time of financial stringency it seems to me that the only way the Minister can find the funding to offer these incentives is to top-slice it from the revenue support grant for other councils," said Mr. Black. "That will constitute a double-whammy for councils like Swansea, Powys and Carmarthenshire, who will lose vital funding but, because there are no plans for them to merge with others, will be unable to initiate merger proceedings so as to claim the extra cash."
"We are already facing massive cuts in funding for local government that will have a huge impact on services such as social services and education. A major reshuffling of the local government pack will be very expensive and will drive up council tax for many householders. The Welsh Government should not add to that woe by using money earmarked for important services to incentivise councils into legitimising their policy of reorganisation."