Wales politics

Larger councils could damage local democracy, academic warns

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Image caption Larger councils can deliver services more efficiently, ministers have claimed

Merging Welsh councils into larger authorities could damage local democracy, an academic has claimed.

Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews has said cutting the 22 councils to eight or nine could save £650m over 10 years.

Prof Colin Copus of De Montfort University said 50 years of evidence contradicted the "stubborn, folk-lore" idea that bigger councils cut costs.

He said as councils become less local, trust in them also declines.

Writing for the Welsh think tank Gorwel, Prof Copus said the "cull of councillors" seen in England in 2009 left fewer councillors covering larger areas.

He said they were left trying to hold "large bureaucratic organisations" to account without being full-time salaried politicians like MPs.

Prof Copus added that the "implicit assumption" was that the purpose of local government was "to do what it is told by the centre".

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