Mark Whitehead 06 May 2015

Local government restructure must be 'sustainable and enduring', says committee

Planned restructuring of local government in Wales must be 'sustainable and enduring', a committee of the Welsh Assembly has warned.

The National Assembly for Wales' communities, equality and local government committee said the Local Government (Wales) Bill is the result of an extensive process of public engagement and consultation.

But it added the public must continue to be engaged as part of the restructuring programme if the reorganisation is to be effective in the long term.

The bill paving the way for voluntary mergers of councils in Wales was published in January and sets out the terms under which authorities can seek to join forces.

The Welsh Assembly committee said 'every opportunity for meaningful community consultation' must be provided before the proposals are formalised.

The committee's chair, Christine Chapman AM, added: 'We are mindful that the proposed restructure will be the third to have taken place within a period of fewer than 50 years.

'This makes it all the more important to ensure that the outcome is a sustainable and enduring structure. Anything less could mean the need for further, untimely structural reform.

'We are concerned that the limited time available to meet the Welsh Government's timetable for reform, and the need for political compromise in order to make progress, could result in a settlement, which may not be as robust as it could otherwise be.

'We reiterate that the principal consideration that should drive structural reform is the need to create a sustainable structure that is both fit for purpose and capable of delivering the government's wider aspirations for the future of local government in Wales.’

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