Merging with Wrexham Council could cost Flintshire tax payers £10 million
As the deadline for Councils across Wales to submit their ideas for voluntary merger looms ever nearer, Friday is submission day, Flintshire County Council leader Councillor Aaron Shotton has revealed the cost of a merger between the reluctant Wrexham Council and Flintshire County Council could be in the region of £10 million.
Talking to BBC Radio Wales Cllr Shotton also said Council’s have stripped out huge costs and further savings would be difficult.
“Already we’ve taken out £2.5m of senior management costs this year – you can’t repeat that – and we’ve already set a challenging [savings] target of over £1m of administration costs so it’s something we’re already doing,” he said.
“If we protect social care and education, that leave us with £80m [a year] for everything else that we spend across the council from which we’ll have to find £50m [in savings] over the next three years.
“[Reorganisation] is a distraction, a slight red herring – the issue is what can the Welsh government do now to provide a vision for local government and provide flexibilities in order to assist us in the challenge ahead.”
Ken Skates AM has joined in the merger ‘conversation’ with an impassioned plea to Wrexham Council asking them to consider a merger with Flintshire saying “Merger talks are needed in the absence of a compelling and convincing alternative”
“Flintshire has prioritised service preservation and been proactive in seeking merger talks in order to prevent losses, Wrexham is refusing to talk about a merger without even exploring the potential benefits to the people it serves. I don’t believe that’s a responsible position to adopt.”
[pullquote cite=”Ken Skates AM” type=”left, right”]”Wrexham Council, start talking to Flintshire and listening to the people we serve. People don’t care what logo is on their bins – they just want them to be emptied.”[/pullquote]
“Flintshire has even said Wrexham can retain the civic centre as long as saving services is the top priority. What public servant wouldn’t consider that a deal worth discussing? How can our council know whether or not a merger would be in the best interests of the people if it is unwilling to even talk about it?”
Meanwhile Public Services Minister, Leighton Andrews has announced a review of local authority spending on the back of concerns that the cost of administration is far to high in many local Council’s.
Announcing his decision, the Minister says the review will identify the overall picture of expenditure on administration in Councils across Wales.
Leighton Andrews said:
“I have made it clear I expect all local authorities in Wales to focus the limited resources available to them on delivering front line services to citizens, and to reduce spending on administration and backroom services.
“This review will enable me and local authorities to compare and contrast expenditure and understand where practice should be changed to move a greater proportion of the spending to delivering services to citizens.”
The review’s findings will also help inform our work to reform Local Government and will identify opportunities for a shared service approach.
Mr Andrew’s also warned that Welsh council’s could be cut to as few as six if voluntary mergers are not agreed.
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