Local authorities in Wales have been urged to agree voluntary mergers to end uncertainty for staff and service users, by minister for public services Leighton Andrews.
The minister outlined the changes ahead for local government, telling assembly members there would be change ‘voluntary or not’.
He said: ‘We cannot continue to operate with 22 local authorities. There will be change, voluntary or not, and I am offering a unique opportunity to those who are willing.
‘I want local authorities themselves to make fundamental and lasting change to create modern and effective local government in Wales.
‘I hope they seize this opportunity since those who agree to merge voluntarily will determine their own future and will not face elections until May 2018.’
Mr Andrews said funding would be available to incentivise voluntary mergers, details of which will be published following the Provisional Local Government Settlement for 2015-16 next month. He also said proposals for a Staff Commission to support councils through transitions would be brought forward.