AM calls on Wrexham Council to talk to neighbours Flintshire over merger
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates has called on Wrexham Council Leaders to open up a public discussion over a potential merger with Flintshire County Council.
Labour Assembly Member Mr Skates said Wrexham Council could avoid being perceived as placing self-preservation above service preservation by exploring the potential of saving leisure centres, libraries and social care services by amalgamating with Flintshire.
“Wales has suffered a 10% cut to the money we receive from the UK Government. In comparison, councils here have seen a 4.5% reduction during the same period because the Welsh Labour Government has protected them. That level of protection cannot continue as Tory austerity measures worsen, so every option for retaining services must be explored, including mergers,” said Mr Skates.
Flintshire, Denbighshire and Gwynedd are all saying they want to begin voluntary merger talks now in order to save services as austerity measures bite deeper into public funding.
In contrast, the Independent/Tory leadership in Wrexham has said there will be no merger, without even consulting the people or discussing potential savings with Flintshire.
[pullquote cite=”Ken Skates” type=”left, right”]“Their opposition seems to stem from a fear that their council headquarters could be moved out of the centre of Wrexham, ignoring the fact that Flintshire might actually be happy to see a joint HQ in Wrexham if only they’d speak with them.[/pullquote]
“In refusing to even explore whether a merger could save services, Wrexham’s Independent/Tory leadership risks being seen as sacrificing leisure centres, libraries and other facilities so the council can stand alone.
“People will see service cuts and closures as the price Wrexham Council is willing to pay to avoid talking with Flintshire. And if they are refusing to engage with their closest neighbours, what does that say about their willingness to work with others – and with the people of Wrexham – for our collective economic and social wellbeing?”
Mr Skates added:
“We need to consolidate expertise, build strength through collaboration and seek to enhance services through efficiency savings. A merger could deliver these objectives.
“Wrexham Council leaders need to be responsible and engage with people and communities, and in the very least talk with Flintshire. If they’ve an alternative vision for Wrexham it could be presented to the public alongside the option of a merger and then the people we all serve could have a say.
“Wrexham Council has consulted with the public recently over budget cuts and with other councils over sharing services. Let’s now see a wholesale debate take place over a merger and an exploration of ideas on how Wrexham councillors can be empowered to improve communities across the county borough.
“There is time for this to happen if council leaders wish to listen to people.”
Mr Skates suggested utilising Plas Madoc Leisure Centre as a venue for a full public debate on a possible amalgamation as soon as it is reopened.
“Potentially, Plas Madoc would never have been closed had its future been examined in the context of Flintshire and Wrexham merging. So let’s return to the centre for a full public debate as soon as the doors open. Councillors have spoken and now I want to hear what the people have to say about their services and their council.”
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