Monmouthshire County Council has responded to the Welsh Government’s white paper on local government reform. In a lively debate lasting nearly three hours councillors decided to resist any proposals for merger at this time believing that a robust business case has not been made by Wales Government. The council will explore with others models designed to enable councils to secure economies of scale through highly organised joint working which maintain local democracy and accountability for Monmouthshire. This model of working is often called a “combined authority” model. It is prevalent, growing and successful in other parts of the UK and indeed globally.
Councillors agreed that Leader Peter Fox and the council’s chief executive would be given the power to engage in discussions with partners to share and generate ideas for future models. The council will not be submitting a request to merge early and voluntarily with another council because it does not believe that a robust clear business case has been sufficiently and robustly developed by those advocating quick mergers.
Meeting at Usk on Wednesday, 22nd October the council considered a number of options including the Welsh Government’s recommendation that the county merges with neighbouring Newport City Council.
Councillor Fox said: “Monmouthshire County Council recognises that some reform of local government is needed. However, it was agreed at our council meeting today that we didn't believe that merging with neighbouring councils was in the best interest of the people of Monmouthshire or the wider region. The council wants to explore other options that could preserve local democracy and accountability but also contribute to a strategic vision for South East Wales as a vibrant capital city region. Change has to support this developing vision if our part of Wales is to be globally successful over the next decade. Nobody will thank us for moving the deck-chairs around. We need to do the right thing and do it well; not just a quick thing that satisfies short term political goals and lacks real purpose."