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Merger with Merthyr not in best interests of RCT

October 1, 2014 10:00 AM

As we have said previously whilst we agree that there needs to be fewer Councils in Wales we do not agree with the Welsh Government proposal that RCT should merge with Merthyr. Putting together these two areas both of which have a high level of deprivation would not, we believe, be in the best interests of the people of RCT.

Our full submission to the consultation can be found here . It should be noted that the views reflect those of the local party only and not necessarily of the wider Party within Wales.

We are disappointed that what was intended to be a review of how public services are delivered in order to best meet the needs of the people of Wales has been in essence boiled down to a discussion of merging Local Authorities. Public Service delivery goes far beyond that.

We agree with the basic argument that there are currently too many Councils in Wales and there needs to be a reduction in number. Also that many of the existing Authorities are too small in size to provide value for money from a purely financial viewpoint However, it is not always the case that the larger the Authority the better the service, that depends on a wide variety of other factors. The process of creating larger Authorities will, by itself, not solve the problem of poor service provision in too many instances.

The White Paper consultation talks of a "healthy and robust local democracy, where Councillors see themselves as champions of people and communities and are recognised as such, and where they are responsible for decision making, and for effectively holding each other to account." Many Councillors already see their role - rightly - as just that, but it is the political machinations behind closed doors that prevent them from fulfilling that role. How is legislation going to address this?

There is a lack of financial information given in the report and we do not believe that sensible and meaningful consultation can take place when so many details are ignored.

RCT is already a large Local Authority, and in our opinion big enough both in terms of population and geographical size to warrant being left as is. Adding Merthyr to it would, in our opinion, make the Authority too large and would be against the Commission's judgement that they should be "not so big as to become unmanageable, unrepresentative, or too distant from their communities to have an effective relationship with them."

Certainly if the current RCT Headquarters were to continue to be used then it would be a considerable distance away from the residents of Merthyr. There would, in our opinion, need to be a significant cash injection to allow the movement of the headquarters to Pontypridd. Yet the possibility of large injections of cash appears to have been ruled out.

If there is to be no option looked at other than mergers of existing Authorities the there are alternatives which could be considered. For instance a merger of RCT and Bridgend would, we believe, give a better socio economic mix as both counties have a mix of some very deprived areas alongside several more affluent pockets.