Wales politics

Councils in Wales 'will not merge for a decade'

Graphic of council logos
Image caption The Welsh Government had suggested the number of councils in Wales should be reduced from 22 to around eight or nine.

A council leader has said he does not believe local authorities in Wales will merge for at least 10 years.

The Welsh Government had suggested the number of councils in Wales be reduced from 22 to around eight or nine.

But Carmarthenshire leader Emlyn Dole said he has been told his council "will remain for at least 10 years".

Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford will make a statement about reforming councils later in September.

Mr Dole told S4C's Newyddion 9 that he had received assurances about the immediate future of Carmarthenshire from Mr Drakeford.

He added: "The authorities will remain, unless they themselves want to merge. But there will be more of a regional footprint - working together on a regional level."

Local councils are already working together on regional consortia involved with improving education standards.

Ten local authorities are part of the Cardiff City Deal to boost the prospects of the south east region.

There is similar co-working on plans to develop the economies of north and south west Wales.

Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire are now repackaging black bag rubbish from the same site in Pembroke Dock - which is then sent to Sweden and recycled to heat houses.

'Has to come'

Dyfed Edwards, leader of Gwynedd council, told Newyddion 9 he would rather see a plan for reorganisation than face another decade without changes.

He added: "We need a new system of councils so that we can face not just the next decade, but the next 50 years. That has to come some day.

"I was a supporter of the ex-minister's plan to create new local authorities that could serve citizens across Wales.

"There wasn't much support within councils for a new map in terms of reorganisation.

"The only way it will happen is through voluntary agreements. Or if we look at a regional structure where services are brought together."

UKIP assembly group leader Neil Hamilton accused Labour Welsh Government ministers of having "no ambition or drive" to improve people's lives.

"It is utterly bizarre that we can make all the arrangements needed to leave the EU within two years, but it will take local councils more than 10 years to agree on joint working for tasks like rubbish collection or pot-hole filling," he said.

The Welsh Conservatives' local government spokeswoman Janet Finch-Saunders called for "certainty and continuity" in local government.

"If Labour's planned council mergers have been shelved for up to a decade then it will be very humbling indeed for the First Minister, whose government used up a lot of capital trying to force them through," she said.

"Instead of starting the process with a radical review of the services provided by local authorities, Labour ministers became pre-occupied with the geography of the new council map - which was completely the wrong way around."

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