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Council agrees to explore merger

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Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC has agreed to explore a merger with neighbouring Merthyr Tydfil CBC, in one of few examples of relative harmony in Wales’ troubled council mergers process.

However, the council said it would also gather evidence that supported its continued separate existence.

The merger was proposed by the Commission on public service governance and delivery, which reported in January that Wales’ current 22 councils were unsustainable and should be cut to between 10 and 12.

A statement from Rhondda Cynon Taf leader Andrew Morgan (Lab) said: “We must undertake a detailed assessment of what our options are.

“Only after [that] can we provide an informed response to the Welsh Government.

“We may wish to argue that an authority the size of Rhondda Cynon Taf could feasibly argue to stand alone when you consider the economies of scale we already achieve when compared to neighbouring authorities, but we cannot strongly defend our position if we have not explored what opportunities there may be.”

Merthyr Tydfil is yet to formally consider merger, but will hold exploratory talks with neighbouring councils.

Public services minister Leighton Andrews has set a 28 November deadline for expressions of interest in voluntary mergers and has said the commission’s recommendations will eventually take effect, “voluntary or not”.

However, the process has struggled, with only Denbighshire CC and Conwy CBC having agreed to explore merging.

Elsewhere, Flintshire CC would like to merge with Wrexham CBC but the latter has rejected that option.

Newport City Council has declined the recommended merger with Monmouthshire CC – or anywhere else – while the latter has objected to merging with Torfaen CBC.

Vale of Glamorgan Council has said it would prefer to merge with Bridgend CBC than Cardiff City Council, as the commission recommended, and Pembrokeshire CC wishes to merge with Ceredigion CC but the latter opposes any merger.

Image by Stuart Heath, taken from Flickr under Creative Commons licence.


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