Wales’ Local Government Secretary announces major shake up of council elections and details of new Local Government Bill

Wales Gov welsh dragonWelsh Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Mark Drakeford, announces details of new Local Government Bill with regional planning changes.

The Welsh Government writes:

Following on from a White Paper earlier this year, the Cabinet Secretary has announced details of a Local Government Bill that would see mandatory regional working between Wales’ 22 councils on areas such as economic development, strategic land use planning and strategic transport. These services will all be undertaken in three large regions: North Wales, Central and South West Wales and South East Wales.  There will be scope for sub-regional working as part of these larger groupings.

Councils would also be required to work regionally on other services like education improvement, social services, additional learning needs and other aspects of land-use planning but have more flexibility on the footprint in which they work together. Certain specific functions would have to be undertaken regionally, for example, social services being aligned with the local health board boundaries. Joint Governance Committees, comprising elected members of each constituent local authority, would be set up for each of the 3 regional areas and would oversee the services. As part of a new, more transparent relationship between people and their councils, it will also become mandatory for local authorities to broadcast their meetings.

In addition to the above there will also be a root and branch review of town and community councils. The evidence-based review will be conducted by a panel chaired by former Assembly Members, Gwenda Thomas and Rhodri Glyn-Thomas. The review will consider what needs to change so that the most local level of government works well and delivers results. The review is expected to start this summer and will take a year.

Mark Drakeford said: ‘Today I’m announcing a Bill and a wholesale package of reforms that will change the way councils work and the way they are elected. We want to make it easier to vote and easier to be entitled to vote… More broadly, if we’re to achieve real and lasting change in our councils then we have to change the way they work. I have spoken to and consulted widely with councils on how best to do this and we now have a Local Government Bill that will strengthen services through systematic and mandatory regional working and build a new relationship between citizens and their councils. I look forward to working with local government on the Bill and I urge everyone to have their say on this bold and pioneering package of electoral reforms we’re setting out today.’

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