IN RESPONSE to a Welsh government consultation, the councillors voted to keep Ceredigion Council as a distinct Local Authority body to be able to ensure local accountability and democracy.
First Minister Carwyn Jones supports The Williams Commission which earlier this year said the number of Welsh councils should be cut. This involves replacing the 22 current Welsh authorities with 12.
The Welsh Government’s White Paper was published by then Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths in July. This was basically the beginning of the legal process plotting how everything will happen which then paved the way for mergers of councils willing to do so voluntarily.
October 1 is closing date for responses.
Ceredigion Council Leader Ellen ap Gwyn has made it clear that the authority are sending a clear message to the government: “Merging with any other authority would weaken local accountability. Enlarging wards and reducing democratic representation will militate against good local delivery of bilingual services in a rural area. There is no cultural or linguistic affinity with with the proposed enlarged local authority area.”
Ceredigion Council are among many but is the most recent authority to reject a voluntary merger. Newport has also voted against saying they do not want to merge with Monmouthshire whilst Wrexham has shown willing to to join with Flintshire.
Conwy and Denbighshire are still evaluating their options.
It has been said by Conwy’s Deputy Leader Ronnie Hughes that the merger would give the authority more control over its future than if it waited and was forced into the merge in two years time.
Although Leighton Andrews, minister of public services has said that the Welsh Government will support councils with early mergers, including using ‘existing funding streams’ and identifying ‘appropriate financial resources’, Caerphilly has rejected to merge with Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen whilst Anglesey has similarly objected to merging with Gwynedd.