22 LEAs 'a mistake'

Labour and Conservative politicians are blaming each other for the creation of 22 local education authorities in Wales but no-one is claiming it was a good idea.

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  1. Nick Powell

'I gave Labour the councils it wanted' says John Redwood

The former Welsh Secretary Redwood says the system of 22 Welsh local councils, each with its own education authority, was created in response to calls from Welsh MPs and local councils, who were mostly Labour. Mr Redwood was responding to a speech by the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews.

I would not have invented 22 local education authorities for a nation of 3 million people. No-one sensible would. John Redwood did.

– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

I was asked to create the new councils and Welsh local government wanted more, not fewer of them. The only serious criticism was over Powys.

– Former Welsh Secretary John Redwood MP

Mr Redwood says he was told that smaller councils would co-operate and not run everything themselves when they took over in 1996. He had inherited from his predecessor, David Hunt, plans to scrap the existing eight counties (which were local education authorities) and 37 districts

Mr Redwood spit up Mr Hunt's Heads of the Valleys authority and created the two county boroughs with the smallest populations, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent. But he refused to divide Powys into three smaller authorities, although Labour and the local Tory MP both backed the idea.

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