The Williams Commission has - under what has been described and urgent and radical proposals - recommended a reduction in the number of Welsh councils from 22 to between 10 and 12. The report offered several different options for the future landscape of Welsh local government, but all involved merging authorities.
Several organisations, including the Federation of Small Businesses, have welcomed the plans as it may bring an end to duplication and complexities in services and help boost the local economy with targeted service planning on a more regional basis.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has already hit out at the commission’s findings claiming that Council Tax will have to be increased to meet service provision. The WLGA also claims that upfront costs will be £200m, much higher than the projected £100m stated in the report. Projected savings, however, could be anywhere between £60m-£80m a year and as the WLGA primarily exists to protect its members (councils and councillors) its criticisms are to be expected.
The commission should be commended for publishing such bold proposals. It is possible that some local identity maybe lost, but potential savings of up to £80m certainly should be examined in further detail.