Wales politics

Council mergers: Delay will 'harm' services, Williams says

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Media captionSir Paul Williams says there is more to council reform than mergers

Delaying council reorganisation will harm public services, the man who wrote a report on the matter has warned.

Sir Paul Williams called for the 22 councils to be cut by around half.

Three pairs of councils offered to merge voluntarily, but Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews rejected them for a lack of a "compelling vision".

Sir Paul said the minister was "right to pause" the process but warned that uncertainty over reform was affecting the public and council staff.

He told BBC Radio Wales: "If you delay it further, front-line services will be harmed."

'Look at leadership'

Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen, Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, and Conwy and Denbighshire had proposed pairing up.

Sir Paul said the "piecemeal proposals" had not fully taken on the dimensions of his report, published in January 2014.

He urged councils to "look at leadership" and the way services were delivered as well as their boundaries, and stressed his view that merged authorities should not cross over health board boundaries, as a Bridgend-Vale of Glamorgan partnership would do.

First Minister Carwyn Jones told AMs on Tuesday that Sir Paul's recommendation of 10 to 12 authorities was still the "preferred option", but he called for assembly party leaders to meet him to agree on a new map for local government.

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