Laura Sharman 28 June 2019

Leader of ‘fractious’ council seeks government help

Leader of ‘fractious’ council seeks government help image

The leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council has asked the Welsh Government for help to overcome its ‘fractious’ position and financial challenges.

Cllr Kevin O'Neill has written to local government minister, Julie James, asking for the involvement of an experienced figure to act as an ‘honest broker’ between the lead administration and opposition.

In his letter, Cllr O'Neill wrote: ‘Whilst all members appreciate their duties under the Code of Conduct, and the need to act in the best interests of our citizens, we are also conscious that political differences can lead to deep division and conflicting views on how best to manage our situation and eventually that can hinder progress.’

The council is led by independents but they do not have overall control.

In response, the Welsh Government has agreed to appoint two outside experts to help the council tackle its financial and political problems.

In a statement, Ms James said an external advisor would undertake a ‘rigorous and independent’ assessment of the council’s key challenges.

An experienced political leader will also work with the council to strengthen working relationships between members and officers, and across all political groups.

Ms James said: ‘I will be using my powers under section 28 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to provide a package of support to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council with immediate effect.

She added: ‘I look forward to working with the council to ensure it is able to fulfil its ambition to serve people in Merthyr Tydfil effectively and efficiently. In doing so, I will be relying on full and effective commitment from all members and officers of the council so we can achieve our shared goal of a sustainable future for the council.’

Photo: © Ian S

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