Friday, 1 March 2013

Council Reorganisation?

Plaid Cymru are in Beaumaris for their spring conference. In a leisure centre. A leisure centre that is shortly to become a social enterprise. It’s to be a social enterprise because the local authority can’t afford to keep it going. So the residents of the historic town are going to take it over.

Now Plaid Cymru are here because the only elections in Wales this year are in Anglesey. Plaid are trying very hard to win control of the council from the shambles of various permutations of independent control.

It’s an year later than everywhere else in Wales. Why? Because Anglesey Councillors had been very badly behaved. So much so, that Local Government Minister Carl Sergeant had to put his own hit team of outsiders in, to sort things out. 

Now the Welsh Government have intervened in many an authority to sort problems out. Social services here, education there. The latest intervention is in Merthyr. Here the intervention is to sort out education. Intervention after intervention, basically because local government is not up to speed. So what’s to be done?

The current structure of local government is one that was imposed on Wales by the pre-1997 Tory government. Indeed it was a legacy of John Redwood’s rule in Wales. It was opposed by Labour at the time. Many thought that the scrapping of large county councils at the time was a big and costly mistake. The new authorities were thought to be far to small to administer social services and education. Subsequent government interventions have proved the critics of the time to be right. 

The Welsh Government have been encouraging authorities to make joint appointments, some even have. But a hell of a lot have only paid lip service to the Assembly and carried on with complete disregard to Carl Sergeant’s wishes. 

But Sergeant is not to be trifled with. Expect a major announcement soon. What could it be? Well both he and Leighton Andrews the education minister have been making threatening noises about local government. They both think they’re not fit for purpose.

Indeed not to put to fine a point on it, there is a mutual loathing between  Welsh government and local government. Relation are at rock bottom. 

The only way forward would seem to be a major reorganisation of local government. Is this likely to be the next major announcement from Carwyn Jones’s government? 

How ironic that Plaid Cymru come to Anglesey to push for a Plaid Cymru controlled Anglesey.  Now will there be an Anglesey council if Messrs Sergeant and Andrews get their collective way. Me thinks not.


  1. I like John Redwood, and I like Unitary Authorities. It's just that Johnny bach made a complete cawlach of things in 1993.

    We need 7 or 8 all-purpose unitaries in Wales; that's all: smaller elected bodies to take care of all things local. I know there'll be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the vested interests of local politics and administration.

    Tough like, butt.

    This must be done pronto, otherwise we'll never get to grips with the malaise gripping our public services.


  2. The Unitary Authorities were clearly intended to be too small to deliver services. The Tories saw them as commissioning bodies and all the services would be contracted out.

    We could merge the UAs into a smaller number with beefed up community councils to give a local balance.

    It's more likely we'll have regional authorities with power over health, social services and education, shared with the Assembly, and eventually policing.

    A wholesale redrawing of the maps would be seen as too disruptive, I imagine. The second approach could be done gradually.


  3. You thinks not.

    And me, who just happens to live in Anglesey, also hopes not!

    Corruption, malpractice, incompetence, chaos, shambles. We need it and them no more!

  4. Pads and Anonymous 12:32 I think we need to democratise the unelected and nominate sector - for me Health and social services are a natural match. If you can I recommend the Local Government Commission report from March 1963, it makes fascinating reading about the competence and capacity of the Welsh Counties. My preferred option is to beef up community councils (and make sure all of Wales has elected community councils), district councils replacing our current unitary councils, and 5 regional councils running waste disposal, health and social services, the fire service, the police, the ambulance service and education, including further but not higher education.

  5. In the period prior to the 1970s county boroughs (like Cardiff) were in charge of education I don't think it was seen to be small then.

  6. However Cardiff was a relatively large authority - Merthyr was also a County Borough and its clearly too small to be an education authority.

    1. I have no idea why size would matter in Canada you have school districts of all shapes and sizes with the best tending to be the small ones.

  7. Unlike Emlyn I don't "like" John Redwood. He didn't make a cawlach at all, the set up is exactly what he wanted. To try and stop devolution (okay so he failed on that) and to fragment and therefore undermine public services that could later be sold off or privatised. The guy had some strange views that obviously never got cleared by the Welsh electorate.

  8. It's quite ironic when we hear Plaid Cumru blaming the Independance for the councils passed problems. If my memory serves me right it was thier group they along with Labour, on the council who distroyed democracy with their "Terms of Engagment", spliting thier group and the council in two, which created the situation to send in the Commissioners.
    What hipocrites.

  9. Quite Right.
    As the Audit General said in his reports on the Council. The Council has'nt been run properly since it's inseption in 1996 and before that with the old council.

    Further to that, was it not the independants who gave Cllr Bob Parry, as vice chair of council the sack for his part it signing the lawless "Term of Engagement" which split the Council and his Group down the middle which caused so much trouble?

    Thier main aim at the time, as is now, was to create a dishonest perception by blamming the Independants and attack them as "disidents" at the forthcoming polls.
    So having embarked on such foolish abuse, lets just see where it gets them as the campain progress.

  10. I thought that Pliad Cumru were running the council in a coalition with the Independants? That been the case what on earth are they taking about?

    Misleading Lunatics come to mind.

  11. The comments above show exactly why independents need to be defeated. Plaid Cymru has consistently been the largest party on the island for the council (hence it's involvement in various coalitions with aforementioned independents) but you've had a situation where independent councillors have been switching groups and have themselves formed parties. It's been chaotic. The time has come for a stable coalition. I predict there will be a Plaid Cymru-Labour coalition after the elections.

  12. Whats now known.

    Three Plaid Current Councillors are refusing to stand under the Pliad Cumru flag.
    Fflur Hughes, Rhian Medi and William Hughes rather than allow thier party, Pliad Cumru, to dictate what they can do and not do before the intrest of those they suppose to represent.

    It has also come to light that Cllr Alan Mummery, who won a by-election last year on the island as a Independant say's: "I'm going back to my roots because I was a Pliad councillor some years ago and will now stand for Plaid Cymru in May.
    Clearly this man cannot be trusted and has been misleading his constituents all along and should be shown the door come election day.

  13. Anon 19:26

    Again another Plaid member getting the facts wrong,
    The original Indie's have done nothing of the sort.

    It was when Plaid Cynru Bob Parry, took a leading part in bringing the Council to its knees along with John Corlton and Hefin Thomas by signing up to the lawless terms of engagement did all hell break loose showing Plaid and Labour unfit to govern.

    At least the Independance done put thier party whips before the people they represent.