21 September 2018
The current local government structure was established in 1996, since then, the debate around how effective and sustainable the framework for local decision making is has continued.
The Welsh Government initiated a number of Commissions and reports over the last two decades, including the ‘Beecham review’ into public services, the ‘Simpson review’ on what services are best delivered where, and the ‘Williams Commission’ on public service governance and delivery. Following the ‘Williams Commission’ recommendations in particular, the Welsh Government attempted to move the change agenda forward. A draft Bill was introduced in the Fourth Assembly that would pave the way for local authority mergers, provide local authorities with the general power of competence and change the functions of councils and their Members.
However, following the 2016 Assembly election, the Bill did not proceed. The Welsh Government has since consulted on a White Paper that would have kept the current 22 authority footprint but with mandated regional working, and subsequent to that, the Welsh Government has reverted back to a policy focused on reducing the number of local authorities – having most recently consulted on a Green Paper that again proposed a programme of mergers. As well as structural reform, the Fifth Assembly has seen proposals for electoral and financial reform in local authorities. This research paper provides a timeline of the key developments in the local government reform story to date
National Assembly for Wales Research Service