Guns blazing from local councils' leader

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Media captionBetter for councils to choose the way they work together, says Debbie Wilcox

As speeches go, the one given by Debbie Wilcox to kick start the latest gathering of council leaders was all guns blazing.

Everyone came in for attack from the Labour leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, including some members of her own Newport council for not showing up at the event in Cardiff, the media, the UK Government (not unexpectedly) as well as a heavy dose of red-on-red action with criticism of the Welsh Government.

This was accompanied by an appeal to her Labour colleagues in Cardiff Bay to abandon plans to force councils to work together in a series of regional cabinets. This is due to be included in legislation next year.

If the new Local Government Secretary Alun Davies gives way, it would mark a full and final victory by the council lobby over the plans which originally would have seen the 22 Welsh authorities dismantled in a series of mergers.

It may be a step too far for ministers.

'Gardening leave'

Read full article Guns blazing from local councils' leader

Phone lines red hot

Let's start with rabbits out of hats, and it came in the form of stamp duty from Philip Hammond.

Interestingly this has crossover with the most high-profile tax yet to be devolved.

Read full article Phone lines red hot

Behind the scenes at Welsh Government

Carwyn Jones is sticking by his story. He says there were no specific accusations of bullying put to him in 2014, either formally or informally.

But he has lifted the lid on an atmosphere at the top of the Welsh Government three years ago that was not exactly a bed of roses either.

Read full article Behind the scenes at Welsh Government

Carl Sargeant inquiries - the latest

It is still unclear exactly how the two investigations into the death of Carl Sargeant will pan out.

The coroner's inquiry is underway. The other independent investigation, being led by a QC, is yet to begin.

Read full article Carl Sargeant inquiries - the latest

One for the anoraks

This is one for the anoraks but I am going to enter the world of hypothecated grant-funding for local authorities.

I blame the new world of the Welsh Government's two-stage draft budget process.

Read full article One for the anoraks

On the naughty step

Image copyright PA

After wading through the long grass of council finances in my last blog, here are some of the hurdles for the Welsh Government's other big ticket item: the NHS.

Roughly half of everything the Welsh Government spends goes on health. It means what happens here has a disproportionate impact elsewhere, as environmental organisations are finding out.

Read full article On the naughty step

Can schools and care escape cuts?

Council services

Another year, and another dire warning from councils about the state of their finances.

What feels different this time is the focus on the kind of core services considered by many to be untouchable: schools and social care.

Read full article Can schools and care escape cuts?

Council cuts and Tory conference

Image caption Debbie Wilcox on the Good Morning Wales programme

The details of the Welsh Government's budget are still being pored over.

It remains to be seen whether the leader of the Welsh Local Government Association Debbie Wilcox was right when she suggested on Good Morning Wales that council tax rises of the maximum of 5% would be on the cards.

Read full article Council cuts and Tory conference

Welsh prisons: Is Wales becoming the new Botany Bay?

  • 1 October 2017
  • From the section Wales

The claim: Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, tweeted this week: "Wales is becoming the Botany Bay of 21st century. England shoving its urban poor onto the hulks & shipping them off to Wales." It follows the UK government announcement of plans to build a new prison in south Wales.

Reality Check verdict: In March of this year, figures show more Welsh prisoners were held in England than English prisoners in Wales. But if you look at plans to expand prison capacity in Wales this could be reversed in future.

Read full article Welsh prisons: Is Wales becoming the new Botany Bay?

Corbyn adulation and tidal lagoons

Here are some quick reflections on the Labour conference in Brighton before I head up to see the Conservatives in Manchester.

So if confirmation was needed, we got it in spades this week that the war within Labour is over as Jeremy Corbyn adulation reached new levels.

Read full article Corbyn adulation and tidal lagoons