The Welsh government has unveiled its blueprint for radical reform of local government, amidst claims that it is planning to merge councils “by the back door”, the BBC reports.
It wants six new regional groups to run services such as education and social care, rather than the 22 unitary authorities. There are no plans for a cut in Wales’s 1,264 councillors.
The six proposed regions are North Wales, Mid and West Wales, Swansea Bay, Cwm Taf, Cardiff and Vale and Gwent.
Liberal Democrat local government spokesman Peter Black said he was in favour of cutting the number of councils, but accused the government of reorganisation “by the back door”.
He told the BBC: “This is a blueprint for reorganisation. I’m OK about having that debate, but let’s have that debate, not ease our way there surreptitiously.
“Let’s have a proper debate about whether we’re going to reorganise or not instead of trying to do it by the back door.”
The Welsh government rejected that this was a back door re-organisation.
The news follows Welsh local government Carl Sargeant (Lab) warning councils in June that they will be forced to appoint joint chief executives and even merge if they do not speed up collaborative working.
Mr Sargeant told councillors and chief officers he would intervene if he did not see more partnership working between Welsh councils.
“I am tired of hearing the arguments against joint appointments. They are often no more than a defence of the status quo,” he said. “In the last year five authorities have lost a chief executive and not one has made a joint appointment. That makes no sense at all.”