Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council responds to the Williams Commission
Published Monday 20 January 2014
Councillor Neil Moore, the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, has commented on the Williams Review into Public Services Governance that has been issued today and which has been highly anticipated.
Cllr Neil Moore said: “It is a significant report and as a result it will take some time to go through the contents in the necessary detail and absorb its findings.
“Many individuals and organisations have participated in the Review process and have submitted evidence, but I am keen to stress the impact any potential reorganisation could have on the community, not least in terms of jobs, the cost of reorganisation and service disruption caused as a result.
“I have taken a keen interest in the review, but I have not argued for a full scale structural reorganisation and believe that is not necessary, affordable or required at this time.
“Now the report has been published it will require considerable time and analysis to do justice to its contents. That being the case, it would be inappropriate to respond prematurely to the Review, as it is both a lengthy and substantive report.
“However, I recognise that opinions within local government across Wales will vary and there may be pressure for change, particularly where the austerity measures may challenge the sustainability of certain councils. This is certainly not the case in the Vale of Glamorgan. I also recognise that the debate will continue for the moment, but I await a formal response from Welsh Government, which I hope will be soon and allow us to debate the merits of the Commission’s report fully.
“The Review has clearly identified options for 10, 11 and 12 local authorities rather than the current 22. Some of those suggested options may need to be clarified further and whether or not the Welsh Government will allow other options to be considered, should we in the Vale of Glamorgan need to progress any changes at all.
“It is also clear that the report has profound implications for service delivery and for the Local Government workforce. It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders have as full a debate as possible before coming to any conclusions, and decisions on the future of our services, which cannot be taken lightly.
"We already live in a time of unprecedented cuts in public spending but we also know that demands on public services have never been greater. Welsh Government must be clear whether a reorganisation will assist in alleviating these pressures or exacerbate them.
"The economy is very fragile and we in Wales can ill afford the loss of a large number of good quality jobs, which are distributed around all parts of Wales, including some of our most deprived communities at this time.
"We must proceed carefully and consider the options proposed by the Williams Review. Any change must be firmly based on a robust cost benefit analysis and precise identification of the upfront resources required to pay for large scale change.
"I am aware that the Welsh Local Government Association will be discussing the Report with its members over the coming weeks and months and there will be similar debate in other arenas, including political parties such as my own, throughout Wales.
"It should be remembered that the Williams Commission was an independent review and although the Welsh Government is not bound by its findings, we must know where the Government stands on these recommendations.
"If there is to be change, then we will need clarity on timescales, transitional arrangements, service and workforce implications and above all how the massive and substantial costs of any changes are to be met. As I indicated earlier we already have unprecedented cuts in public spending and it must be made clear how any changes will be funded.
"Whatever happens, I and my colleagues in the Vale of Glamorgan will work constructively with the Welsh Government in shaping the future of Wales' public services. However, it is important to remember that the public services are major local employers and deliver services that enable individuals to lead healthy and fulfilled lives within sustainable communities. We have to ensure that we achieve the best for our communities and the Williams Commission’s proposals may not necessarily be the right way forward in its entirety.
"I look forward to a full debate on these issues in the coming months.”