Wrexham Council should be open to discussions about the possibility of merging voluntarily with other Local Authorities.
That is the view of Wrexham Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths who is disappointed Wrexham Council have rejected proposals to participate in a voluntary merger with Flintshire County Council.
A Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery published their findings earlier this year which suggested the current configuration of 22 Local Authorities across Wales is unsustainable. Service delivery was suffering in several regions across the nation so the Welsh Government is now in the process of implementing the Commission’s recommendations.
Incentives will be provided to those Local Authorities who merge voluntarily, with funds made available in the future to assist with these kind of arrangements.
Voluntary mergers enable Local Authorities to determine their own future, created through partnership and collective ambition. Merging voluntarily also enables the Councils to focus on the more important issues such as protecting and enhancing public services.
All Authorities wishing to merge voluntarily should submit expressions of interest by the end of November, with the objective for the new voluntary merged Authorities in place by April 2018.
However last week Wrexham Council announced they would not partake in a voluntary merger with Flintshire Council, with Council Leader Mark Pritchard saying Wrexham would not be ‘bullied’ into a merger by Cardiff.
Lesley Griffiths AM said: “I am extremely disappointed Wrexham County Borough Council wishes to stand alone.”
“The Local Authority has the opportunity to set out a vision and its own agenda. I believe, therefore, it is in the best interests of the people of Wrexham for them to enter discussions with Flintshire Council.”
“Other Local Authorities across North Wales have begun preliminary negotiations and the Welsh Government is adamant the status quo is not an option. As the largest town in North Wales, Wrexham should be at the forefront of the decision making process and negotiations, rather than isolating themselves.”
“Voluntary mergers enable the Local Authority to shape their own future, as well as providing the opportunity to end uncertainty for their staff and the wider public.”
“Whilst these are undoubtedly challenging times for Local Government, there is an opportunity to make fundamental and lasting change. Ultimately, the proposals are aimed at creating a modern, effective, more efficient Local Government which provides the best possible public services for the people of Wales.”
During last week’s Full Council meeting, Wrexham Council voted no against proposals to merge with Flintshire, with concerns raised that a merger would result in the loss of local representation and would turn Wrexham into a ‘ghost town’.
Speaking at the meeting last Wednesday Cllr Pritchard said: ““Why would you want to run your politics from Mold, this town will become a ghost town. It’s changing the face of Wrexham and we need you as councillors on our side, we need the Labour councillors on our side as you can make representations in Cardiff. “e are being bullied by Cardiff into this arena and I don’t want to go there.
“I think it’s wrong for Wrexham. We are here to represent our constituents. This hasn’t gone out for consultation and this has been rushed through. I can’t believe the Welsh Government has done this as it’s bordering on incompetency.”
A forum thread regarding a merger and what it could potentially mean for Wrexham has since been started on the Wrexham.com forums. You can take part and view the debate here…