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BIG TWO SET TO REJOIN WELSH ASSOCIATION

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Welsh secretary Ron Davies has stepped in to try to broker an agreement between the Welsh Local Government Associat...
Welsh secretary Ron Davies has stepped in to try to broker an agreement between the Welsh Local Government Association and Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taff councils. The two largest councils in Wales withdrew from the WLGA last year shortly after it was set up following local government reorganisation.

Both said they were acting because of financial constraints, but they had also been prominent in a failed campaign for an autonomous all-Wales local government association, completely independent of the Local Government Association.

Mr Davies wrote to both councils just before Christmas asking them to reconsider their decision.

Cardiff deputy leader Gordon Houlston has now revealed that the council was already discussing the possibility of signing up to the WLGA. 'In my view, there is more than a 50:50 chance that we will be coming back in,' he said.

WLGA chairman Tom Middlehurst had already set up meetings for later this month with Rhondda Cynon Taff leader Bill Murphy and Cardiff leader Russell Goodway to discuss the issue.

'I believe the association would be stronger with all local authorities in membership,' Mr Middlehurst said. The purpose of the meeting was to make contact and to 'explore the areas of concern the councils may still have'.

In his letters, Mr Davies referred to a partnership agreement between Welsh local and central government signed just before Christmas. He views this as setting the tone for the relationship between councils and the Welsh assembly.

'The signing of the framework presents your council with an opportunity to review its decision to stay outside the WLGA,' he wrote. 'I firmly believe it would be in everyone's interest if your council, through the WLGA, joined the central/local government partnership committed to furthering the economic and social development of Wales.'

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