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BEECHAM BACKS OFF FROM REORGANISATION

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Services review urges smaller changes ...
Services review urges smaller changes

By Jennifer Sprinks

Sir Jeremy Beecham's review of local service delivery in Wales has concluded council reorganisation is 'not the answer' to improving services.

Sir Jeremy, chair of the review team, has said there is no 'clear correlation between [a council's] size and performance'. Instead, he suggests more modest structural changes to tackle capacity constraints, share expertise, and look at introducing joint provision of services.

His paper, Beyond boundaries: Citizen-centred local services for Wales, sets out plans to review progress in five years.

Sir Jeremy told LGC: 'Reorganising now would be more costly than envisaged and be a distraction for getting on with the job, given that there is a collaborative work culture that we want to see enhanced.'

The paper says the Welsh government is itself hindering change because of the bureaucratic culture it inherited.

Sir Jeremy said: 'With strong national and local leadership, Wales can become a model of small country governance.

'But it needs to go a lot further and make a complete break from its previous connections with Whitehall and from working deep down in silos.'

The report calls for the government to cut inspection and to simplify grant regimes. Sir Jeremy also wants the Welsh Assembly to develop a stronger scrutiny role.

Responding to the report, Welsh Local Government Association leader Derek Vaughan (Lab) said: 'The emphasis on public-sector bodies working together at a level hitherto unheard of is fully supported within Welsh local government.'

But Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers in Wales chair Ian Miller felt the inspection recommendations were not ambitious enough.

He said: 'We will initiate a debate about a fundamental review of inspection bodies with a view to creating a single inspection and audit body for Wales, using the framework powers the assembly will have under the Government of Wales Bill.'

The assembly will respond to the report in the early autumn.

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