Denbighshire council merge could lead to job losses


Kirstie Dolphin

NEIGHBOURING Denbighshire and Conwy councils should merge, a Welsh Government report has recommended.

A report commissioned by local government bosses suggests the 22 Welsh councils should be reduced to 10, 11 or 12 local authorities.

The Williams Commission report, published on Monday has put forward three broad recommendations for the future of local government in Wales with all suggesting the councils merge.

The proposed shake-up comes 18 years after the last round of local government reorganisation, when Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and part of Conwy replaced the old two-tier system of Clwyd County Council and district councils.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: “The council is of the view that the public sector should concentrate its efforts on improving leadership, culture and performance rather than divert its attention to large scale reorganisation of public services.

“Denbighshire is a strong council with many good and excellent features, including strong political and officer leadership and high performing services. Reorganisation would risk a drop in performance, with no obvious advantages for Denbighshire residents.

“The council is therefore in favour of retaining the status quo as far as the county's boundaries are concerned.

“However, the council recognises that local government reorganisation is a real possibility.”

The council had argued that any less than three authorities for North Wales would be a mistake, as it would mean major disruption to services, a distancing of local government from the electorate and a deterioration of services.

Denbighshire council will now consider the report and look at possible implications for the county.

Denbigh councillor Colin Hughes said: “With a merger jobs will be lost and in an area that does not have a big private sector to secure jobs, that could be a huge a loss.

“My main concern is for Denbigh and the economy, will the town still have the council offices, there are a significant amount of people that work there which feeds into the town.

“Also how many people will each councillor represent, will we be able to represent everyone adequately.”

The report estimates annual savings nationally of £60m to £80m but will cost £80m to £100m upfront, including severance payments to staff, and consolidating salaries.

A Welsh Local Government Association report said the plans could see 15,000 job losses across Wales.

Llandyrnog councillor Merfyn Parry said: “It was inevitable we will have change and there is more in common in our areas of agriculture, tourism than we would have with our neighbours Flintshire and Wrexham.

“I would like to see the possible three new councils working closer, it has got to be the way forward.

“My concerns are what's the cost and who will fund this massive change. There is also concerns all round regarding job losses and in times of uncertainty people reduce there spending which is not good for the local economy.”

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