We were asked to respond to the recent report of the Williams Commission on the proposed reorganisation of public services in Wales. One of the proposals is that Newport and Monmouthshire should be merged to become one local authority.
We have written to Newport West Constituency Labour Party arguing that a totally different approach to reorganisation was needed at this stage.
Newport should continue to exist as a unitary authority in its own right
but could collaborate in an innovative way with neighbouring authorities in Gwent, Cardiff and South East Wales as a whole. This is our summary:
“In many respects, the Report follows the basic same pattern as earlier
reforms of local government reorganisation. Perhaps it is time to change this
and take a more holistic approach to this subject.
“Rather than looking at formally merging existing boundaries, perhaps we
should be thinking along more regional lines. Perhaps a better solution to
problems facing us at the moment might be a regional Federation/Alliance
with areas which we have common interests i.e. Cardiff. Both cities have
industrial, cultural and historical links. In this respect the report prepared by
Professor Simon Gibson “The City of Newport … on the Rise” brings the
conflict between urban and rural areas into sharp focus given that the report
recommends, inter alia, the establishment of a National Centre for Cyber
Security in the City. If Professor Gibson’s ideas materialise then it is hard to
see how a vibrant modern technological Newport would sit easily with rural
“We wonder if the Commission aren’t seeing the bigger picture. The present
record on collaboration between authorities doesn’t seem to have achieved
much, and we suspect the Williams report is correct in making that
observation. But if there was a city region, centred on Cardiff that might make
more sense. It would resolve the current problem of having too many local
authorities, and there could be a more intelligent approach to collaboration.”
To see our full response click here