This has been talked about for years and it finally looks like it is happening, with Cardiff set to be re-united with the Vale of Glamorgan, harking back to the ol' South Glamorgan days.
Apart from cutting some bureaucracy in Wales, what other effects will this have? Will Cardiff lean slightly towards the right being integrated with the more prosperous Vale?
Penarth, Dinas Powys and, at a push, Barry are already de facto parts of Cardiff so it makes sense to have the eastern part of the Vale linked politically with Cardiff, however it would make more sense for the western part (Llantwit Major & Cowbridge) to be linked with Bridgend. Being a Bridgend boy, it does seem daft that it could be ruled from Swansea as it had always looked east towards Cardiff and rarely west to the Jacks.
There are risks with any re-organisation:
Less democratic scrutiny and engagement, added to the lack of media coverage. See Oggy Bloggy for the local TV that is not at all local (apart from the Swansea bids). The number of councillors will be hugely reduced which will have a knock-on affect on talent (or lack of in some peoples eyes) available to the Senedd. We will end with an even smaller, tiny even, cliche of professional politicians.
Especially for councils such as Cardiff, Merthyr or Wrexham which to date have been able to concentrate effort on the only main settlement, whether by attracting public or private investment, the future risk is that such effort with limited resources available will in future be split. Cardiff is unlikely to suffer much but Barry will feel ignored and Wrexham and Merthyr will likely see greatly reduced economic activity and investment. Council headquarters will likely be removed, investments will continue to be made but more likely in compromise locations, see Clwyd CC and the establishment of Theatre Clwyd in Mold for a previous eras example.
Cost will be a major implication and savings will I suggest be less than envisaged and take longer to payback. A lot of effort and lack of productivity will come from merging organisation and re-deploying of assets.
That is not to say that there is no merit in the report, realigning boundaries, merging Powys with the Health Board. But before we embark on wholesale change everywhere why not try out the merger with the smallest authorities, Anglesey/Gwynedd, Merthyr/Rhondda Cynon Taff and Blaenau Gwent/Torfaen. If it works extend if not rethink.
If the Ambulance board is all Wales then there seems to be no reason that Fire is not also all Wales and the Police also, although not a Welsh responsibility.
it is a good thing. it is ludicrous that Wales has 22 local authorities. Birmingham with 1m people has 1 whereas Wales has 22 for 3m people. That is creating a state for the sake of it and not out of need. lets say bye bye to 22 CEO's, 22 Finance departments, 22 HR departments and so on.
I'm surprised it took the Welsh government so long. This should have been the first thing they did in 1999 when they came to power. The Tories made Wales top heavy in public sector bureaucracy.
How many LAs does Wales need? If we are as capable as the Brummies then we only need 3: North Wales, Mid Wales, South Wales. That seems about right
It'll be interesting to see what happens on this.
It would be natural for Cardiff to just team up with VoG and leave it at that if it's done on a voluntary basis, but with one eye on the city regions that have already been set-up why not just use those boundaries for the new councils plus bring back some of the historic council names for West, Mid and North Wales and leave it as 5 councils. So if I had my way it would be as follows :
South East Wales
I don't have much of a problem with Jantra's idea either but I think that the authorities have already outlined two south Wales local authorities with the city regions having been kicked off.
As a Bridgend boy I wouldn't like to see Bridgend team up with Swansea and Neath Port-Talbot if it's at the same time part of the South East Wales City Region as it currently is.
When I was in school the kids from Bridgend county were quite scummy so being ruled from Swansea should suit them.
Are they completely f*ing forgetting that they are trying to create a city region!? At least Cardiff, Barry, Penarth, Dinas Powys, Caerphilly and Newport should all come under the same counil - they are practially joined together.
All coming under the same council would be pushing it to say the least and Caerphilly and Newport are both quite distinct from Cardiff also.
What's this city region thing?
Whilst appreciating the need to save costs and cut down on some duplication. My gut feeling on this is that this reorganisation will create regional or sub regional councils not local ones. My other gut feeling, which is contrary to other views here is that there are too few local councils. Identity is important and these proposals will cut off people from councils and councillors. I acknowledge that there is a case for the merging of some functions such as HR, IT and the like, but where a function is better delivered at the most local level, it should be. I have a major dislike of empire building.
Except that in the end we'll probably have 22 Assistant CEO on existing salary plus 8 CEO on double the amount
If we have a gcmc (not a bad idea) then do we need a city region? Aren't they the same thing? If so why not only one of them rather than both.
The way gmc works is that each constituent council has representatives rather than it being another layer of government. So you get an overarching strategic body without any extra layers of bureaucracy nor do you need any more councillors or workers.
Interesting discussion. I really don't know where I stand on this. It does seem ridiculous for areas as small as Torfaen or Merthyr to be their own authority. But is bigger necessarily better?
Would seem to me, perhaps naively, that Councils should just be made to do better (though that leads to further questions, such as accountability, responsibility and whatnot) and there should be tighter controls and firmer punishment for Councils (including both officers and members) that are reckless, careless, crooked, slow, poor-performing etc. I think I fear the scenario that in another 20 years there'll still be the same old problems and it'll be decided that there are too few LAs which are to distant from their electorate and therefore there needs to be a change back.
I'd like to see the town/community councils gain more powers. There are about 750 of them but they're largely moribund at the moment; they have very few powers, a large percentage of the seats are uncontested or vacant and they simply don't exist in many parts of the country, for instance Pontypridd has a town council but Aberdare doesn't.
The Williams Commission proposed a process to create bigger community councils when the Boundary Commission redraws ward boundaries. I think every town in Wales should have a town council responsible for parks, recreation and street lighting.
I can't say I'm a fan of town and parish/community councils - I've mostly found them (in England and in Wales) to be either irrelevant or very small-minded.
Perhaps in a large LA they have a role to play (parks, recreation, quasi-third sector things like libraries), but generally whenever they're involved in something controversial or political, they are a hindrance. Like planning for example.
But I may be biased
Interesting point about Powys. Planning is sub-divided into the three shires also (well, Development Management is, I can't recall how their strategy/LDP team is divided).
I didn't know where to put this as I can't seem to find a City Region thread (I thought there was one but must be mistaken).
There's an interesting use of the South East Wales city region name towards the end of the news article.
'The business is expected to re-locate to larger premises in the Cardiff Capital Region by 2016-17.'
This story is related to new jobs being created in the Bridgend area, and then a mention of a relocation in a couple of years to somewhere within the city region. It's as if the name has been decided. Have I missed an official announcement ?
Someone who thinks the VoG would be better off joined to Bridgend and Neath/Port Talbot rather than Cardiff.
@B Lee Ding Obvious
The WG (and ONS for that matter) regularly update and revise projections for both population and for households. Just because an update (I think based on the 2011 census data?) is imminent, doens't mean there were glaring - or fraudulent! - problems with their past projections.
Secondly, the Planning Inspectorate - although there are several reasons to criticise them - are surely nothing to do with either local government organisation or the city region process?
Please take your time to read this blog http://jacothenorth.net/blog from December 2013 onwards. Briefly, the LDP housing need figures were based on 2008 estimates produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services body (KAS). KAS are responsible for providing household projection data to the Welsh Government. KAS answer to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London and work with another branch of the DCLG, the Planning Inspectorate. At no time between 2008 and 2013 did the WG ask KAS for an updated figure for the number of households predicted in the 2008-2033 period (the statutory LDP period, I think). Even when the 2011 census data showed that the population and household projections from 2008 were way, way out, no-one asked the question "Do we actually need to build this many houses in Wales?".
Thankfully, the question has been put to the petitions commitee and KAS have written to the petitioners to confirm they are looking at the figures again. Carl Sargeant is the minister responsible.
As to your second question, all of these bodies work together and so have a lot to do with each other. Housing and employment needs to be planned nationally, regionally and strategically in Wales. At the minute it is chaotic, fragmented and not serving the interests of the majority of people in Wales. See the Bus Rapid Transport thread. Who will that serve? People who don't live in Wales yet, probably. It will ruin Canton and Fairwater but there's a lot of money to be made building and selling houses on the outskirts of Cardiff
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