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Welsh Government should not rush into local government reorganisation

The Welsh Liberal Democrats Local Government Spokesperson, Peter Black has called on the Welsh Government to take its time over any reorganisation of local councils so as to ensure that they get it right.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the Williams review, Mr. Black said that an inquiry into how we can deliver public services better has been hijacked by the Commission's own obsession with drawing lines on maps.

"Ultimately, this should be about ensuring we get cost effective, efficient and accountable public services delivered at the right level," said Mr. Black. "That means that the review should also be looking at the Welsh Government, its sponsored bodies and the health boards so as to drive out duplication and waste.

"I want to see Councils being empowered and local services of whatever type made accountable to local people. That may well involve reorganising local councils but it also means looking at giving them more powers and responsibilities. Devolution should not stop at Cardiff Bay.

"Any reorganisation of local government must be based on compatible communities, not lines drawn on a map in a back room by an unelected committee. It must also ensure that the new bodies are representative of their electorate and that means introducing a proportional voting system so that the outcome of elections reflects the way people voted.

"I am looking to the Commission report to detail the full costs of any proposals they make together with an analysis of how long it will take for savings to recoup those outgoings. I also urge the Welsh Government not to rush into reorganisation.

"When we are contemplating the third restructuring of local service delivery in 40 years, we must make sure that we get it right. That means that we need to consult widely on the report's recommendations and properly debate them.

"The next local government reorganisation, if it happens, must be for keeps. We cannot afford to be considering ripping it up and starting again in 15 or 20 years time."

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