Posted: Mon 20th Jan 2014

Williams Report: Wrexham and Flintshire Councils SHOULD merge.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jan 20th, 2014


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The eagerly awaited Williams commission report has been published today and as expected it recommends ‘urgent and radical’ changes to local government structure.

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales being presented with the report

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales being presented with the report

Across the whole of Wales the Commission proposes significant changes to public services and recommends between 10-12 local authorities.

Four options have been put forward by the Williams Commission, all four options include the reduction of north Wales councils from 6 to 3 with Flintshire and Wrexham merging, along with Anglesey and Gwynedd, Conwy and Denbighshire.  

The reports states “One of our options for local government mergers must be adopted and implemented urgently, creating 12, 11 or 10 local authorities.”

The Commission, established in April 2013 by the First Minister and chaired by Sir Paul Williams, was tasked with examining all aspects of public services in Wales and making recommendations on their future direction.

Its report contains over 60 recommendations:

  • Reduce the complexity of the public sector by removing duplication and making sure organisations work together effectively.
  • Increase the capacity of local authorities by reducing their number to combat the serious problems of small scale and create significant long-term savings.  This will help protect front-line jobs and services.
  • Strengthen governance and scrutiny so that services are responsive and the mechanisms for holding the public sector to account are better informed and more effective.
  • Ensure that citizens and communities are at the heart of service design and delivery.
  • Create new and more coherent approaches to leadership to ensure the best people as leaders are appointed and developed.
  • Encourage a new culture of one public service for Wales with organisations united around a shared, collaborative and citizen centred set of public service values.
  • Simplify and streamlining performance management by introducing a single and concise set of national outcomes, with local partnerships and organisations feeding in to them, to increase clarity and accountability.
  • Recommendations that the new councils should be within current health board and police force areas and also not cross the geographical areas governing eligibility for EU aid.
  • Town and Community councils should also be merged according to the commission,

The report examines all aspects of public service provision in Wales under five themes –complexity; scale and capability; governance, scrutiny and delivery; leadership, culture and values; and performance and performance management.

The report says:

“We are very clear that public services in Wales face severe and prolonged challenges, the effects of recession and austerity on public-sector budgets will continue to be felt for many years. At the same time,our population is growing, becoming older, and public expectations on the providers ofpublic services are higher than ever before. This creates severe pressures – demand for public services is growing while resources to provide them are falling.

The 105 page summary can be report can be read here: Summary report

Commenting on this morning’s publication of the Williams Commission and its recommendations for the future structure of local government in Wales, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:

“We welcome the publication of this much-anticipated report, which now paves the way for the Welsh Labour Government and the First Minister to promptly set out their proposals to end this period of limbo and uncertainty in local government. 

“Seemingly endless speculation about local government reorganisation will have caused considerable worry to the tens of thousands of council workers and their families, who deserve a clear statement of intent from Labour Ministers.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Local Government Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“The Welsh Government needs to take direct action to outline which of these options is the best way forward, how costs will be met, and the implications for frontline staff.

“The weight of evidence presented to the Williams Commission shows that if the people of Wales are going to get the services they need and deserve then there has to be a radical improvement in the way public services are delivered. The status quo and keeping things exactly as they are now is not an option. Some of the existing structures we have were designed before the National Assembly and Welsh Government existed.

“Public services are the glue that holds Wales together. It is vital that standards in education, healthcare, and local government are continuously improved, and that any reform of public service delivery meets this challenge.

Responding to the Williams Commission’s report, Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:

“The proposal to cut the number of councils will likely grab the majority of the headlines. While I support reducing the number of councils, this report is about more than that. We need a wholesale change on how local government works in Wales. This is about ensuring we get cost effective, efficient and accountable public services delivered at the right level.

“I believe it is essential that councils, especially if they will now be larger, gain more powers and responsibility. Devolution must not stop at Cardiff Bay.

 

Screenshot from 2014-01-20 11:24:28

More reaction hopefully from within Flintshire to follow.

 

 

 

 

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