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Spurned council presses merger idea

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Troubled Pembrokeshire CC is to explore merger with Ceredigion CC despite the latter rejecting the idea.

The merger was proposed by the Welsh Government’s 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.

In a statement, Pembrokeshire leader Jamie Adams (Independent Plus) said it was clear that new public services minister Leighton Andrews was determined to press ahead with council mergers and, “while I do not agree that local government reorganisation is necessary, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that it is likely to happen”.

He added that a cross-party working group would consider a voluntary merger with Ceredigion, even though “I understand that Ceredigion councillors are opposed to a merger, and I respect their point of view – however, I do not think this is an issue that we can, or should, ignore”.

The commission proposed that Carmarthenshire CC should remain a separate council, leaving Pembrokeshire with no merger partner if Ceredigion maintains its stance.

Ceredigion last week passed a resolution that the interests of its citizens “will be best served by keeping Ceredigion’s sovereignty”.

It added: “There is no cultural or linguistic affinity with the proposed enlarged local authority area [with Pembrokeshire].”

Pembrokeshire has been in turmoil this year over a pension payment to its chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones, which was declared unlawful by the Wales Audit Office. Councillors passed a vote of no confidence in him last month.

This is the second case in Wales of a council wishing to merge with an unwilling neighbour – Wrexham CBC having refused Flintshire CC’s overtures.

  • The Welsh LGA has warned that services are in danger of disappearing after the Welsh Government’s draft budget for 2015-16 showed funding for local services would fall by £154m.

Welsh councils would face a shortfall of up to £900m by 2018, the association warned.

WLGA finance spokesman Aaron Shotton (Lab) said in a statement: “As councils we will have no option but to look seriously at charging for services and different models of delivery.

“The reality however, is that many of the services that communities take for granted are now at risk. Redundancies will unfortunately become unavoidable.”

 

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