The Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Alun Davies AM, has been accused of “wasting a great deal of time, energy, and good will” after dropping his controversial plan for council mergers.
In the Senedd today, Mr Davies made a statement on the next steps of local government reform following the firm opposition of council leaders across Wales.
Shadow Local Government Secretary Janet Finch-Saunders AM said in her response to the statement:
“You mentioned at the time about your vision for stronger, more empowered local authorities, focusing on local leadership. And yet, in reality, you pushed the button of turmoil, demoralisation and destabilisation within offices and council chambers across Wales…
“You undermined the intelligence and dedicated commitment of our council group leaders, our councillors and our officers in their rejection of your preposterous proposals.
Outside the Siambr, she commented:
“After all the effort and frustration caused by the Green Paper, to have dropped it so late in the day – when the opposition was so obvious and vocal – has been a great waste if time, energy, and good will.
“The WLGA, individual councillors, and the opposition parties have been united in their displeasure at the top-down nature of this plan, which was way more heavy-handed than necessary.
“Although I am encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s uncharacteristically constructive response to my questions in the Assembly today, I do sincerely wish that those words become action and he does not dismiss the ideas of others simply because they come from other parts of the political divide.
“So let’s end the Welsh Labour Government diktats, and encourage more work at regional partnership levels. Outcomes are the most important part of governing – so let the focus be on that.”