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Regional planning formula in latest Welsh local government reform proposals

Published: Thursday, 6th October 2016

Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford proposes alternative method for Welsh authorities to achieve reforms by working together to deliver key services on a regional or sub-regional basis…

The Welsh government this week proposed a different formula for reforming local government and improving the delivery of key functions like planning and economic development.

Instead of a drastic reduction in the number of councils, ministers will achieve reforms by requiring local authorities to work together to deliver key services on a regional or sub-regional basis.

There would be no change to the existing number of local authorities, but the Welsh government would support voluntary mergers. The government has stressed that this new way of regional working “would be systematic and mandatory”.

Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford told the Welsh Assembly that continuing austerity meant local government reform remained “a requirement, not a choice”.

He explained that after talks with all existing 22 local authorities and other interested parties a new approach was being formulated.

“This would retain existing local authorities, the ‘front door’ through which people access services, but with key services being delivered regionally.

“Behind this front door, we would have an enhanced level of mandatory and systematic regional working. This will give local authorities more resilience in terms of staffing and finance and also ensure that services are planned and delivered on the right scale. 

“It has been suggested to me that we have two models to deliver these services; one based around City Regions covering strategic transport, land-use planning and economic development and another aligned to health boards for services such as education improvement, social services and public protection.”

Drakeford said that he hoped to have agreement on the reform package by the New Year.

Roger Milne