Wales politics

Councils 'to be cut to eight' by Welsh ministers

Map

Plans to cut the number of Welsh councils from 22 to single figures will be published on Wednesday.

BBC Wales understands ministers want a structure modelled on pre-1996 arrangements, when Wales had eight county councils.

It is understood Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews will set out the case for eight councils.

Mr Andrews is also expected to leave open the option of a nine-council map.

But with elections to the assembly next May, and opposition parties sceptical of the Welsh government's plans, a question mark hangs over whether the reforms will be enacted.

The eight-council model would see the return of historic counties such as Dyfed - re-merging Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion - and West Glamorgan, joining Swansea once more with Neath Port Talbot.

A Plaid Cymru spokesman said: "As expected, the Welsh government is focusing solely on a simplistic rearrangement of boundaries.

"Plaid Cymru believes that such an approach will not improve the delivery of public services and runs the risk of destabilising and demotivating local government at this crucial time."

'Shambles'

The plans have already proved controversial, with Labour leaders of local authorities calling for the idea to be put to one side until after next year's election.

The announcement comes 18 months after an independent cross-party commission suggested cutting the number of councils to either 10, 11 or 12.

The Welsh government offered councils the chance to merge voluntarily, but three sets of proposed mergers were rejected by Mr Andrews in January.

Welsh Conservative shadow minster for local government, Janet Finch-Saunders, described the process as "a shambles from start to finish".

She added: "Councils should not be forced to merge. It won't work and it's a one-way ticket to disaster.

"This lame excuse for reform will see us jump back in time to a structure long confined to the history books. All this does is serve their own narrow political self-interest."

PROPOSED NEW COUNCILS

  • Gwynedd, Ynys Mon, Conwy*
  • Flintshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire*
  • Powys
  • Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion
  • Swansea, Neath Port Talbot
  • Bridgend, RCT, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Newport, Monmouth, Torfaen

* There could be further consultation on merging Conwy and Denbighshire to create an additional council in north Wales.

THE CHANGING FACE OF WALES

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