COUNCILLORS on Monmouthshire's Democratic Services Committee have clashed over plans to merge the authority with two other Gwent councils.

Under plans set out by the Welsh Government’s local government secretary Alun Davies, to reduce the number of local authorities from 22 to 10, Monmouthshire would merge with Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent councils.

Previously, leader of Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) Peter Fox spoke out against the 'unsettling' plans.

But  on Monday, councillors on MCC's democratic services committee were unable to agree on a draft response to the proposals.

Cllr Martyn Groucutt (Labour, Lansdown ward) said he supported the proposals.

"The reality is that we are recreating Gwent more or less," he told the committee.

"We are recreating in effect what used to happen.

"I think the reason for that is the current unitary authorities are too small to deliver on their own."

The shake-up would also see Newport city and Caerphilly county borough council become one.

Cllr Tudor Thomas (Labour, Priory) also spoke in support of the proposals, arguing the changes would help councils deliver services in a more efficient way.

But Cllr Paul Pavia (Conservative, Larkfield) said there was "no appetite" within the council for the changes.

"If we are going to be radical, we should be really radical, not just shuffle the deckchairs," he added.

And Cllr David Dovey (Conservative, St. Kingsmark) expressed concerns about how the proposed merger would work.

He said instead of "going back", the council needed to look to new ways to deliver services.

"We would have an enormous cultural chasm to breach and I think we would lose so much of what is special about this county," he told the meeting.

"I don't think we can go back. We have to go forward in a different way."

Cllr Sheila Woodhouse (Conservative, Grofield), said there needed to be more councillors present to make the decision.

A consultation on the issue closes on June 12, the deadline for councils to submit their draft response to the issue.

Members of the committee voted in favour of a proposal by Cllr Groucutt that the matter is put back to be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.