Wales politics

New councils shake-up map 'this week', says First Minister

Classroom, library, bin lorry and gritting - council services Image copyright Thinkstock/PA
Image caption Some 130,000 staff work in council services across 22 authorities in Wales

A new map showing local authority re-organisation will be published this week, First Minister Carwyn Jones has confirmed.

He admitted the process had taken longer than he would have wanted and that some within his party would be concerned with the proposed changes.

But he claimed it was better to show leadership and and tell people where he stood on the matter.

The number of authorities - 22 - is expected to be halved after the review.

It is unclear when exactly the map will be published.

It will be discussed by the Labour group at the assembly on Tuesday.

It will then be the focus of talks when council leaders meet for their annual conference in Swansea on Thursday.

On Sunday, the Welsh Local Government Association said uncertainty over the outcome of the councils' shake-up was damaging staff morale.

Mr Jones said: "I think people need to know where we stand.

"I think a worse position is to go into an election in May with me saying, yes we have an idea of what the map should look like, but we are not telling people until after the election.

"That would be a ridiculous position to be in. Much, much better and more open to say, look this is the preferred map, look at it, make your comments on it and then of course after the election in May it'll be up to the parties to take re-organisation forward.

"There are some people within the party who will be concerned, that much is true, but it's much better to show leadership, say this is what the map should look like and these are matters for discussion between now and the election."

The Williams Commission recommended cutting the number of councils to 10.

However last week, senior Labour council figures asked ministers to water down the plan or drop it altogether.

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