Wednesday 28 January 2015

Local Government Reorganisation - some crystal ball gazing

"Well, Mr James, I see a shortish, grey-haired man in glasses looking very stern and threatening. But, wait! He is bearing gold. Lots of gold."

Unfortunately Mystic Meg's apparatus went on the blink at this point, but the short, not very handsome stranger probably looked something like this:

It is not often that events in Cardiff Bay move with bewildering speed, but they did yesterday. First, Leighton Andrews, Labour's Minister for Public Services, dropped a big hint that the Williams Commission's recommendations for the reorganisation of Welsh local government might not be the only way of redrawing the map, before announcing a little later that he was rejecting the proposed voluntary merger of six councils, thereby effectively consigning Williams to the litter bin of history.

Although Carwyn Jones had previously welcomed Williams' proposals, Leighton Andrews yesterday rejected a proposed voluntary merger of Conwy with Denbighshire which was one of the recommendations set out in the Williams report.

Leighton Andrews has said that he hopes to find consensus among the parties, but the Welsh Government will publish its own map in the summer if no agreement is reached.

So it's back to the drawing board, and whereas it had looked as though Carmarthenshire would be one of the few councils to continue in its existing form, all bets are now off.

Swansea's Labour council has made no secret of its ambitions to create a much larger authority based loosely on the Swansea Bay City Region concept taking in Llanelli and the surrounding area, and it has sent several raiding parties over the border already, including objecting to plans for some new fast food outlets in the Trostre shopping centre and an intervention in Carmarthenshire's long-winded Local Development Plan process, with Swansea pushing for a huge new housing development in Llangennech.

There is support in Llanelli for becoming part of a greater Swansea, including from Keith Davies AM, and Carmarthenshire shorn of Llanelli and Cwm Gwendraeth would hardly be a viable unitary authority.

It is quite a possibility that Dyfed may yet rise out of the ashes, albeit without Llanelli, although not necessarily sub-divided into its old constituent parts of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

One conceivable solution which might find broad backing is a new Dyfed divided north/south, something which has a lot to recommend it, although the Amman Valley and Llanelli factions of the Labour Party might find themselves in opposing trenches.

But back to Leighton Andrews briefly.

The other week Leighton was banging his shoe on the table about the scandal of fat cat council chief executives. Bryn may have gone, but Mark James is still with us, and with Labour having come round to Plaid's way of thinking that he should not be given a whopping pay-off, Carmarthenshire's answer to Vladimir Putin is set to stay with us for the foreseeable future, and there is not much Leighton Andrews can do about it.

However, if a re-jig of local government in the south-west resulted in the disappearance of Carmarthenshire, Mark James could finally see his wish come true in the form of a redundancy notice with a very large fat cheque attached.


Anonymous said...

What are the predictions from the Leighton Andrews Brain
A return to Dyfed -Pembs Carms & Ceredigion ?
Swansea & Neath & Bridgend
Powys on its own
Newport & Mons
North Wales split 2 ways
TheRest who knows Cardiff& the Vale plus one other

Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

Anon 13.12:
That looks a heck of a lot like Ted Heath's Wales (1974-1996).

If Swansea wants to make a land grab across the Loughor, they can have Llanelli Town and Llanelli Rural, but if they so much as try to put their sweaty little fingers on the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys, there'll be merry hell to play. Lebensraum in Llangennech, but Halt before Hendy!

Anonymous said...

An outcome for Mark James which would be totally justified. Anyone made redundant is compensated for loss of office based on years of service. Whichever way you cut the cake Mark is an employee , which is why he would be entitled to be treated in the same manner as other employees.
I can hear you all thundering away on yor keyboards to object but get real, these are the rules of the game!
Get over it!

Anonymous said...

Anon 22.14

It's a pity whistleblowers aren't treated the same as other employees for doing no wrong.