Plaid councillors warn against proposed local government shake-up

24/09/2014

Colin Mann


The Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly council have declared their opposition to plans to merge the authority with neighbouring Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen councils.

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “The  Welsh Government's interpretation of the Williams Commission  report would lead to huge costs and disruption.  We face plenty of pain for little gain.    Caerphilly is already the biggest authority in Gwent with a population of almost 180,000 and is quite capable of running services on its own.

“Council tax-payers in Caerphilly would also face big increases in their bills. The Band D bill in Blaenau Gwent is 43% higher  - over £400 per year - so  Caerphilly  residents could face  huge rises  in council tax as a result of a re-organisation  and this may well be combined with inferior services . The former Plaid Cymru administration froze council tax for two years while other authorities increased them so there is a clearly a different philosophy between the three councils.

“The last re-organisation in 1996 caused massive disruption and costs. The terms and conditions of council employees  in Caerphilly CBC  were not finally equalised until nearly 15 years later.  Staff in some councils are still waiting.  Another major issue would be the fact that Caerphilly is the only one of  the  three authorities to run its own housing stock

Councillor Mann added: “Caerphilly has got a good record of delivering services to residents, so why change something which is not broken?

“Caerphilly council already co-operates with neighbouring authorities in areas such as Project Gwyrdd to deal with municipal waste, the education advisory service and emergency out-of-hours social care is also shared.

“There is also the issue of the democratic deficit. People in communities are going to be less well served if there are fewer councillors to serve larger areas. Given the huge cuts in  funding that   local authorities are  facing we need to concentrate scarce funding on services not waste it on re-organisation.  This is  certainly the wrong time to consider a radical shake-up of local government and with no proven advantage.” 

"The Labour Welsh Government has cherry-picked parts of the Williams report as an excuse to attempt local government re-organisation.  Williams was supposed to be about the delivery of the whole of public services not one part of it.''