North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has criticised the Welsh Government for pushing ahead with its Council merger proposals without proper analysis of the costs and benefits.
Speaking in yesterday’s Debate on the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery, Mr Isherwood said “This is the grossly irresponsible actions of an unfit Government.”
Moving Amendment 5, recognising the need for full cost evaluations before any action is taken on structural changes to public services, Mr Isherwood said:
“As the Auditor General told the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, ‘local government has to show that should it wish to collaborate or merge, there has been a proper cost benefit analysis’.
“Despite accepting the recommendations in the Committee report on Local Government Collaboration that ‘The Welsh Government should undertake further analysis of the costs and benefits of collaboration between local authorities, including non-financial benefits, and publish its findings’, and despite the independent analysis of the potential financial implications of restructuring Local Government commissioned by the WLGA from the Charter Institute of Public Finance not being concluded, the Welsh Government is pushing ahead with its Council merger proposals. This is the grossly irresponsible actions of an unfit Government.”
When Mr Isherwood questioned the First Minister about this yesterday, he replied: “We are in the process of conducting our own analysis of what the costs might be.”
Speaking in the debate, Mr Isherwood also called for the citizens and communities of Wales to be given more power over public service delivery and emphasised the role the third sector can play in delivering better services.
“Last November I led a debate here on Co-production. My speech quoted Co-Production Wales, who had told me that the key issues are the genuinely transformative nature of co-production, not just a nice add-on but a new way of operating for the Government as well as for public service professionals and citizens themselves, making explicit links between health, environment, housing, education and communities.