The Williams Commission - one step to far?

First published in Letters

THE new proposal from the Williams Commission to merge the Vale of Glamorgan Council with Cardiff City Council is a step too far.

Anyone with experience of local government in Wales recognises that there are some councils that are struggling to deliver services partly because of their financial positions and their small populations. But why demolish the Vale when it is financially sound and none of its services are in special measures imposed by the Welsh Assembly?

The last amalgamations in the 1990s by a UK Conservative Government were apparently designed to improve local government. Clearly these changes did not improve all local government bodies in Wales given the present situation. I write with some considerable experience of councils since I was previously a local councillor serving for 22 years on the former South Glamorgan County Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The Williams Commission report appears to believe that one size fits all. It proposes to force neighbouring councils to join together even if those councils are financially sound and delivering their local services successfully. The report does not explain why Swansea, population 240,000, is allowed to remain unchanged whilst Cardiff, population 345,000, must merge with the Vale of Glamorgan to make a local government area of some 475,000. I strongly believe that the Vale of Glamorgan should remain unchanged. There is a real danger that Cardiff, who are apparently short of building space, will see the Vale as the logical place to build more housing in green fields.

Michael Sharp



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