- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Categories: Latest News, Press Releases
Speaking from the Assembly, Mike Hedges AM said… ‘I recall the last reorganisation of local government in 1995-6 and all sorts of grand expectations were talked up of its benefits and how much it was going to save. Little if any was talked of the cost and where that money was going to come from. It cost Swansea Council in the region of 5% of its budget and that money had to come largely from cuts to existing spending plans to find the money. Different councils have different systems and pay grades and making council system compatible and equalising pay rates takes both time and money – rarely provided by central government.
I urge people to be sceptical of any projected savings when people talk of local government reorganisation!’
Mike Hedges AM – If you believe that larger organisations in Wales, such as Betsi Cadwaladr, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust are the types of organisations that we think work best, then wholesale merger has its attractions.94
Will the Minister confirm that the costs of reorganising ICT systems, employment and grading terms being equalised, staff movement, changing signs—and I could go on, but I feel like the Deputy Presiding Officer wouldn’t let me—would be more expensive than any predicted never mind actual savings, and that in the last reorganisation, where there were mergers in places like Swansea, the costs of merger equated to approximately 5 per cent of the revenue budget?
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Julie James AM – Well, it’s a national sport, really, in local government to argue about the costs or savings associated with any reorganisation. What is clear is that if you do a mass reorganisation, those authorities become inward looking as people look to see that their jobs and services are protected. We do not need inward-looking services. We need outward-looking, collaborative, efficient services. So, we agree with the WLGA that working collaboratively together in the way I outlined is the most effective. And as I already said, and Mike Hedges knows from our long association, I don’t agree that bigger is always better