Wales politics

Welsh local councils urged to lead shake-up plans

Council maps 2015 - and possible reorganised maps for 2016
Image caption The plan to cut 22 councils to eight or nine councils may be revised to win cross-party support

Councils should draw up fresh plans to reorganise local government, a former leader of Cardiff council has said.

Russell Goodway told BBC Radio Wales that councillors and officials were the "experts" and should "seriously develop" a set of proposals.

Former Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews had been planning to cut the 22 councils to eight or nine.

But First Minister Carwyn Jones has said the Welsh Government will have to rethink its plans to win wider support.

Mr Andrews is no longer in government after losing his Rhondda seat at the election in May, and the Labour manifesto did not include a commitment on the number of councils it would like to see.

As a minority government, Labour will need the support of other parties if any cut is to happen.

Image caption Cardiff councillor Russell Goodway led the authority from 1996 to 2004

Speaking on the Good Morning Wales programme on Monday, Mr Goodway said: "The status quo isn't an option.

"You really cannot maintain 22 local authorities unless you're prepared to dismantle local government as we know it and create other organisations or bodies that would be responsible for some of the major services such as education, social services and possibly economic development.

"I would like to see the experts in the field, who happen to be those that run local authorities - whether they're councillors or council officials - coming forward with well-developed proposals to meet the government's aims.

"I do not want to see a top-down reorganisation imposed on Welsh local government, particularly at a time when you're seeing a lot of new faces in the assembly, people who don't have the expertise in local government to shape those services.

"I really do hope now the Welsh Local Government Association and the leaders in local government will come forward and seriously develop a set of proposals, hopefully capturing the city region dimension."

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Media captionUnion leader Dominic MacAskill says council staff are anxious and fearful

On Sunday, the first minister told BBC Radio Wales he wanted to talk to opposition parties about the future of local government.

"Clearly, the map we published before the election, that is not going to gain support across the assembly, that's obvious," Mr Jones told the Sunday Supplement programme.

Meanwhile trade unions representing council workers have asked for urgent talks on the issue with the new finance and local government secretary Mark Drakeford.

Dominic MacAskill, head of local government in Wales for Unison, said: "We are in a state of limbo and, in that state of limbo, the workforce is anxious and fearful of the future."

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