The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Welsh Labour Government of lacking imagination over local government reorganisation, as it emerged that all three formal expressions of interest in voluntary mergers have been rejected.
Labour’s Public Services Minister announced that bids by Torfaen & Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend & the Vale of Glamorgan, and Conwy & Denbighshire were all being rejected as they do not “meet the criteria” set down by him. None of the three bids followed the map set out by the Williams Commission.
Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Local Government Minister, said:
“The Minister’s announcement today has 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. The Minister should reconsider his decision and allow room for flexibility in his strict processes, so local people can actually get what they’d prefer out of this reorganisation.”