William Eichler 21 February 2018

Welsh government should stop ‘hectoring’ councils over reform, minister says

Wales’ government should stop ‘hectoring’ councils and apologise for its past approach to reforming the sector, the local government minister said as he outlined a new approach.

The Welsh government has attempted to reduce the number of councils in recent years. However, opposition to mergers in 2016 led to this being abandoned.

Alun Davies, the Welsh local government minister, has criticised the government in a blog post for what he describes as its ‘arrogant’ approach to the local government sector.

‘For me it is time that Welsh government joined the debate over the future of local government with a degree of humility rather than an over-large helping of hubris,’ he wrote.

‘Too often in the past the tone from Welsh government has been hectoring, arrogant and policy expressed in intemperate language with criticism that has been unwarranted and unjustified.

‘Perhaps it’s time for the Government to say sorry and to start again.’

Mr Davies said the relationship between the Welsh government and local authorities needed to be ‘reset’ and based on an approach rooted in the ‘values of local democracy.’

He also emphasised this should be based on ‘local decision-making rather than the local administration of national priorities.’

The local government minister said he had written to all 22 Welsh councils to ask them what freedoms and flexibilities they needed to deliver on their mandates.

He would later publish a ‘route map’ for the delivery of these powers.

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