Spend on shake-up a ‘tough sell’, warns Torfaen AM

WARNING: Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle says spending millions on shaking up councils would be a tough sell to an elderly person having their meals on wheels cut

WARNING: Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle says spending millions on shaking up councils would be a tough sell to an elderly person having their meals on wheels cut

First published in News
Last updated

SPENDING millions on shaking up councils would be a tough sell to an elderly person having their meals on wheels cut.

That’s according to Labour Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle, who yesterday in the Senedd questioned whether reducing the number of councils is the panacea for challenges public services face.

She is the latest Valleys Labour politician to wade into the aftermath of the Williams Commission after concerns over cost from Islwyn MP Chris Evans and Torfaen MP Paul Murphy. The commission last week proposed merging Torfaen with Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, and Newport with Monmouthshire, reducing the number of councils in Wales from 22 to as few as ten.

In a debate on the report Ms Neagle said it is really important “that we listen carefully to the voices who’ve expressed concern over the likely cost of reorganisation, rather than simply shouting them down as harbingers of doom or roadblocks to change”.

She said whether it will cost £100 million or £200 million “we’re talking really significant amounts of money that we won’t then be able to spend in other areas”.

“It’s a pretty hard sell to the elderly person whose meals on wheels have been stopped or to the community whose library has been closed,” she said.

Ms Neagle broadly accepted that some kind of change is needed now, but said she couldn’t help but feel AMs would have been better off “grasping the particular nettle much earlier in the lifetime of this Assembly”.

She recognised that public services are too complex and fragmented, that there are issues around capacity and the ability to deliver and there is a clear need for better leadership.

“But for me the overriding question that remains unanswered is whether reducing the number of local authorities – particularly at this time – is the panacea for delivering that kind of change.”

Carwyn Jones, Labour first minister, told AMs that his party will be consulting ahead of March.

But Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Plaid local government spokesman, said: “In listening to Ms Neagle’s speech you have a job of work to do, first minister, to persuade your party on this matter.”

Mr Jones added that his government would not back amendments from Plaid and the Lib Dems to the motion for an electoral reform debate.

Comments (7)

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11:58am Wed 29 Jan 14

Woodgnome says...

The "not the right time" argument cannot prevail. There is never a right time for those that want to reserve the status quo. The long and short of it is that are too many Councils and Councillors in wales.
The "not the right time" argument cannot prevail. There is never a right time for those that want to reserve the status quo. The long and short of it is that are too many Councils and Councillors in wales. Woodgnome
  • Score: 7

12:26pm Wed 29 Jan 14

siameselady says...

Woodgnome wrote:
The "not the right time" argument cannot prevail. There is never a right time for those that want to reserve the status quo. The long and short of it is that are too many Councils and Councillors in wales.
Spot on!
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: The "not the right time" argument cannot prevail. There is never a right time for those that want to reserve the status quo. The long and short of it is that are too many Councils and Councillors in wales.[/p][/quote]Spot on! siameselady
  • Score: 4

1:14pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Sometimes says...

The future savings from the mergers and cuts is far more than the initial costs to make the cuts, I do wish these AMs would stop looking after their mates in the councils and start representing the people. And I wish that Torfaen had an AM that actually lived there so she could experience the reality of living in Torfaen.
The future savings from the mergers and cuts is far more than the initial costs to make the cuts, I do wish these AMs would stop looking after their mates in the councils and start representing the people. And I wish that Torfaen had an AM that actually lived there so she could experience the reality of living in Torfaen. Sometimes
  • Score: 5

1:20pm Wed 29 Jan 14

kez1968 says...

perhaps they should merge a few AM constituencies as well, that would save a Bob or too.
perhaps they should merge a few AM constituencies as well, that would save a Bob or too. kez1968
  • Score: 5

1:22pm Wed 29 Jan 14

theviking666 says...

“It’s a pretty hard sell to the elderly person whose meals on wheels have been stopped or to the community whose library has been closed,” she said. Why these services? Why not managers and councillors take some of the hits. We paid more and get less every year, yet the perks seem to increase year on year for councillors and senior staff. Yet the lower grades have pay freezes and job losses.
“It’s a pretty hard sell to the elderly person whose meals on wheels have been stopped or to the community whose library has been closed,” she said. Why these services? Why not managers and councillors take some of the hits. We paid more and get less every year, yet the perks seem to increase year on year for councillors and senior staff. Yet the lower grades have pay freezes and job losses. theviking666
  • Score: 5

2:31pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Llanmartinangel says...

Labour politicians are never going to support less administration and civil servants, they are their natural supporters. The fact is that this area of the UK is over-run with elected officials and their empires/departments. Every public 'servant' consumes the entire tax take of five wealth creators on average. Whatever the change costs it will pay off in reduced salaries in no time. Just get on with it. Incidentally, you have to smile at Neagle quoting £200 million and ignoring the fact that WAG costs three times that every year and delivers zip.
Labour politicians are never going to support less administration and civil servants, they are their natural supporters. The fact is that this area of the UK is over-run with elected officials and their empires/departments. Every public 'servant' consumes the entire tax take of five wealth creators on average. Whatever the change costs it will pay off in reduced salaries in no time. Just get on with it. Incidentally, you have to smile at Neagle quoting £200 million and ignoring the fact that WAG costs three times that every year and delivers zip. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 10

9:05am Fri 31 Jan 14

varteg1 says...

kez1968 wrote:
perhaps they should merge a few AM constituencies as well, that would save a Bob or too.
Merge the WAG with the rest of the garbage, right into the trash can of history for the unnecessary rubbish it truly is.
[quote][p][bold]kez1968[/bold] wrote: perhaps they should merge a few AM constituencies as well, that would save a Bob or too.[/p][/quote]Merge the WAG with the rest of the garbage, right into the trash can of history for the unnecessary rubbish it truly is. varteg1
  • Score: 0

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