The Welsh Government has unveiled fresh proposals to merge local councils, with some changes from the 2012 plans which were later abandoned. Three years ago it wanted top replace the existing 22 counties and county boroughs with just eight new authorities (with the option of nine if north Wales had three councils instead of two).
This time, it's suggesting 10 new councils, reviving the option of three in north Wales and dividing Gwent in two. The biggest change is that at this stage it is only a suggestion and a consultation has been launched on what should actually happen. Last time, there was fierce opposition from local government to the threat of compulsory mergers.
Voluntary mergers are an option, perhaps as part of a phasing in of changes but what the Welsh Government calls a comprehensive merger programme is also a possibility. And the Local Government Secretary, Alun Davies, isn't hiding his belief that there needs to be change.
The proposals are being presented as part of a package, suggesting that if councils are merged, there could be greater power and freedom from central control for local authorities. This is the full list of proposed mergers:
- Isle of Anglesey and Gwynedd
- Conwy and Denbighshire
- Flintshire and Wrexham
- Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire
- Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
- Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
- Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff
- Newport and Caerphilly
- Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire