No benefits to proposed merger, says Penarth councillor

First published in Penarth news

THERE are "no conceivable benefits" to gain from the proposed merger of local authorities, a Penarth councillor has said.

Councillor Anthony Earnest said that recommendations made to the Welsh Government by the Williams commission to merge the Vale council with Cardiff reminded him of the days of South Glamorgan County council which he sat on for three years before its dissolution in 1996.

He said: "It would simply take us back to the days of South Glamorgan, which was totally dominated by the city, and resulted in minimal spend in the Vale, especially the rural areas, whilst the larger towns received little of merit that anyone can recall.

“I had the privilege of sitting on the Vale of Glamorgan borough council and South Glamorgan county during the last three years of their existence and it became very obvious when plans were being drawn up to split the assets between the two districts in 1996, that Cardiff was to receive 72% of the total resources, whilst the Vale – the poor neighbour – would only get 28% of the proceeds of the exercise.

"Since then the Vale has struggled to get its fair share of money, whilst the later established Welsh Government has equally consistently failed to allocate sufficient funds to cover that long standing shortfall, and thus residents of the Vale have not received the benefits that they were rightly due."

Adding that Cardiff falls short of the Vale's standards when it comes to issues such as education and recycling, he said that a merger would also threaten libraries, community centres and leisure and sports facilities.

"The only items within the Williams report with which I agree, is the proposal for closer co-operation between the Wales Ambulance Trust and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service," he said.

“All in all, the Williams Report is a “fudge” which gives no benefits to Vale of Glamorgan residents, deprives them of local accountability in any meaningful way, would deprive the Vale of a level of council services of which most people are very supportive, irrespective of administration, and imposes a one-solution-fits-all approach to how we might be governed in the future.

"This cannot be right and I have no doubt that the 130,000 people living in the Vale of Glamorgan deserve a much better solution to this desperate money saving move by the Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay."

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