- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Assembly Speeches
First of all, can I very much welcome the general power of competence, something that local authorities have asked for for decades? I think that that will be a great step forward. These proposals are very similar to the eight county councils pre-1995. The major differences are caused by the cross-county boundary changes that took place in the 1995 reorganisation. This is what the county councils and county councillors such as Gwenda Thomas and myself were asking for back in 1993 and 1994. I am happy with the creation of West Glamorgan—a county council, as I said, both Gwenda Thomas and I served on pre-reorganisation.
The challenge for any local government reorganisation is to create a body large enough to provide key services effectively, but small enough to be considered by residents to be local, rather than creating sub-regional bodies.
I’ve got six questions for the Minister. [Laughter.] I could have taken it to 10, but I stuck on six. If population size is all important, why is Powys left unchanged? Fire and rescue was run by the county councils, and is run by county councils in England. Will it be returned to county council control? Council tax varies, sometimes significantly, between the proposed merging authorities. How is that to be resolved? Will there be a proposal, on the new councils, to set a duty for the new councils to set up area committees? Will councils be merged or closed and then new councils set up? I believe that will lead to external contracts being treated differently, depending on the methodology used. And, finally, I’d produced my own suggestions, based on the pre-1995 smaller district council structure. Did the Minister consider that option?