Laura Sharman 18 June 2015

Council chiefs warn over impact of proposed mergers

Council leaders have warned the proposed restructure of local government in Wales – which will see 22 local authorities cut down to eight or nine – will cause ‘disruption and distraction’ in the sector.

Responding to the publication of the reform map yesterday, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said changes would not occur until 2020 at the earliest, leaving councils with an ‘uncertain’ future.

The WLGA also blasted the Government for failing to address the issue of council tax harmonisation in the map.

Cllr Bob Wellington, leader of the WLGA, said: ‘The sustainability of authorities in Wales is in question over the next three years and it is time to examine all options for reforming public services across the board.

‘This means looking at greater integration of health and social care, freeing up authorities from Government bureaucracy and regulation and also empowering local communities through their councils.’

Research undertaken by CIPFA previously found local government reorganisation could cost up to £268m, taking three years to achieve annual savings of £65m.

‘You cannot make the same savings twice, there will be no scope for further savings from local government reorganisation in the aftermath of the next spending round, and there is certainly no clarity being offered on how the up-front costs of reorganisation will be funded,’ added Cllr Hugh Evans, independent group leader.

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