Welsh councils welcome local gov reform paper

Councils in Wales have welcomed a White Paper setting out how councils will deliver some of their services together.

Unveiled by Mark Drakeford, Welsh Local Government Secretary, the paper seeks views on a range of proposals, including mandatory regional working to deliver a range of services, addressing workforce issues, and implementing electoral reform - including lowering the voting to 16.

Other proposals include a mandatory economic development footprint that would also cover certain planning functions and transport, with councils offered some flexibility over what footprint they use to share responsibilities for other mandated services including education improvement, social services, additional learning needs, public protection and promotion of the Welsh language.

Drake ford said: “This White Paper is not about change for change’s sake. Our councils are working against a backdrop of extraordinary austerity and some services are facing a great deal of pressure.

“Local government reform is essential if we’re to make these services stronger and more resilient to cope with the demands of the future.”

Cllr Bob Wellington, leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, said: “Local government has welcomed the cabinet secretary’s approach to engagement and his commitment to work with councils on a basis of mutual respect and trust.

“The new White Paper builds on the constructive discussions that have occurred across local government since the autumn about Mark Drakeford’s proposals to continue local government’s progress around collaboration and regionalisation.

“The details of the White Paper, particularly the specific services and proposed governance models outlined, now need to be considered fully by authorities in the run-up to the local elections. There will be some discussion also about the specific services included and the respective regions, in particular the place of Growing Mid Wales in a wider Central and South West region.”

The consultation will close on 11 April 2017.