Wales local government shake-up - Newport could merge with Monmouthshire
Updated 4:38pm Monday 20th January 2014 in News
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- Detail from Williams report on Wales local government shake-up
- Newport could merge with Monmouthshire
- Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen will also see changes
Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay said he I will fight "tooth and nail" for Monmouthshire to be retained today.
In the wake of the Williams report which recommended merging Monmouthshire with Newport he said: “I’m growing increasingly concerned by the possibility of Monmouthshire being wiped off the map in any local government shake-up.
My constituents identify with Monmouthshire as their home and the Welsh Government should tread very carefully before interfering with this sense of identity.
“The history of local government in Wales tells us that that reorganisation happens way too often, always costs money and never delivers the scale of savings to the public purse or public service improvements we are promised at the outset.
“The Welsh Government should think long and hard about any potential reorganisation before committing money that could otherwise be spent on maintaining local services and keeping council tax rises to a minimum.
“Of course savings need to be made and local government needs to strive for greater efficiencies and more joint working.
“I will fight tooth and nail for Monmouthshire to be retained in a meaningful form.”
A spokesperson for Newport City Council said: “The council has received a copy of the report and will now review and consider its findings in detail before offering comment.
“Having completed a review of the report, we will be in a position to issue a comment on the council’s view of its findings at a later date.”
A spokesman for Monmouthshire County Council said the recommendations of the report "would have a major impact both on us an organisation and upon the communities that we serve" and added that they had much to offer in "creating better, more responsive services."
Leader of the Labour opposition Councillor Dimitri Batrouni, Monmouthshire council said: "We all know Newport and Monmouthshire have different demands and serve unique communities. At the moment, the report throws up more questions than answers and the devil is always in the detail. The Labour group in Monmouthshire will go through the details of the report and listen to residents before coming to a conclusion."
Cllr Harry Andrews, Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council said, "This is a significant review which has far reaching consequences for the whole of Wales.
"We now need time to carefully consider the report's findings and assess the potential impact on key areas such as costs, jobs, service delivery and local democracy.
"It is vitally important that all stakeholders have the opportunity to fully debate the proposals and provide detailed feedback to the Welsh Government before any decisions are reached."
One Gwent council's officers reaction to the Easter timescale for putting Williams into action: "That ain't going to happen"— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Newport Labour Backbencher Councillor Chris Evans enthusiastically welcomed the report.
He said: “Even when it clearly means fewer councillors, the ‘status quo’ isn’t a option. The radical reform – which this report points to, will ensure that the services which we all depend on can be delivered effectively in the future.
“In order to make merged councils work political parties will have to, once elected, work together - a change much needed, and long overdue.”
Newport opposition Tory group leader Matthew Evans raised questions over how different rates of council tax would be worked out between the two authorities, and said one of the biggest issues will be the amount of officer and councillor time spent looking at the merger.
He said that he was yet to be convinced that the move was going to provide value for money.
“If you look back at the old Gwent county council it certainly wasn’t a question of bigger being better – hence the reorganisation in the first place,” he said.
But Cllr Evans said he was “happy to take a pragmatic approach” and would take on board the views of his group.
Your top ten names for Gwent's new councils
WITH the news that Newport and Monmouthshire could be merged and Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Caerphilly could join as one super-authority, we've asked Argus readers what they should be called. Read what they said here.
11:31am Mon 20 Jan 14
IMHO the people of Monmouthshire will not be be too pleased if the councils of the city and the borough are to merge. The City Council has not been good for its inhabitants. It is boorrowing hugely to fund the questionable regeneration of the centre, why should the residents ot Monmouthshire B.C. be saddled with the future financial repercussions. Could we, the residents ofvthe Borough have a say in the matter please?
11:56am Mon 20 Jan 14
Vox Dei says
Nobody ever has a say in these regular reorganisations. The idea that the government was meant to be BY the people FOR the people is long dead...
We could see two new authorities in Gwent - one covering the Valleys and one covering Newport and Monmouthshire. What do you think they could be called?
.@fmwales: “I will now take time to consider the [Williams] report in detail and respond in due course.”— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Commission says this shouldn't inhibit the city regions concept and stop authorities working together— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Williams says eligibility for European structural funds key in Gwent context - BG, Torfaen and Caerphilly get EU regional support— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Suggested at press conf could mean half a billion in savings that could be invested in key services— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Could be savings of 60 to 80 million, possible within two and a half years, says Williams— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Reducing the number of councils will not address challenges alone, he adds— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Leaders need to think differently and flexibly about challenges ahead, says Williams— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Proposes 10 to 12 councils for Wales— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Paul Williams tells gathered press the public sector in Wales is too complex pic.twitter.com/QVAVimtQUx— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
Newport and Monmouthshire should merge into one council, as should Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen at a minimum, says report— David Deans (@ArgusDDeans) January 20, 2014
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