Martin Ford 19 June 2019

Welsh Government to simplify joint working between councils

A blueprint for joint working between councils is to be published by the Welsh Government.

A new form of joint working vehicle called a 'statutory joint committee' has been proposed, to make it easier for local authorities to collaborate in areas such as planning, transport and economic development.

It would reduce set-up costs and provide a body capable of employing staff and holding assets and funding, Welsh Government minister for housing and local government, Julie James, announced yesterday.

She said that ‘complexity’ in current arrangements was limiting their ‘effectiveness and efficiency’.

The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill, due to be introduced later this year, will also propose enabling Welsh ministers to require local authorities to deliver services regionally via the new model, focusing on where regional arrangements already exist.

The proposals have been made following recommendations of the Working Group on Local Government, which consisted of ‘challenging and positive’ meetings between the Welsh Government, council leaders and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

Ms James said: ‘The working group was an opportunity for us to reset our relationship with local government, to explore and recognise the significant positive collaborative work local authorities already do and how collectively we can simplify arrangements to achieve a more sustainable local government sector in Wales.

‘Members of the working group agreed that a single structure for statutory and voluntary arrangements would retain local democratic accountability and deliver consistency and simplification to collaborative arrangements.’

The government and WLGA have already commissioned a joint review of strategic partnerships to identify the areas of ‘unnecessary complexity or duplication’ and to opportunities for simplification, to conclude in October.

WLGA will also coordinate the development of a code of collaborative practice setting out what local authorities can expect of each other.

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