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Monday, 15 June 2015

Plaid Cymru set out vision for local government

Plaid Cymru set to propose development of regional government: Health and social care to be combined. Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood will set out her party’s vision for local government reform when she speaks in an Assembly debate on Wednesday. Leanne Wood is expected to confirm that Plaid Cymru rejects the model of council mergers proposed by the Williams Commission and taken up by the Labour Welsh Government in favour of regional combined authorities. Importantly, the party’s process of reform will include the integration of health and social care.

Plaid Cymru's proposals would see the creation of five to seven combined regional authorities. These would deliver current regional functions such as transport, economic development and planning but would also have the scale and capacity to deliver other public services such as education improvement and health and social care effectively.

“These proposals will mean alignment between health, social services and current regional services, such as the education consortia,” Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood explained. "Though the current 22 authorities will be retained for local delivery and accountability, in combination they will elect regional authorities to undertake those functions that demand a regional, integrated approach. Accountability will be back to the 22 current local authorities and no additional councillors or officers will be needed. Indeed, better regional alignment should mean savings. Instead of a plethora of consortia, boards and committees with different boundaries cutting across each other, there will be aligned regional authorities providing clarity of purpose and democratic accountability.”

Following the publication of the Williams Commission report, Plaid Cymru stated that the “exact status quo was not an option” and then consulted within the party on how much support there was for change. The Party of Wales:
  • Agrees that 22 authorities delivering 22 different strategies for major public services is untenable with devolved national government.
  • Believes at a time of cuts is a time for focus on service deliver not a time for spending on uncertain reorganisation. 
  • Says the problem with Williams Commission/Labour proposals is they do not deal with health and leave confusion over regional bodies such as education consortia. 
  • Proposes proper regional/sub-national authorities for the first time to align current regional work properly and give democratic scrutiny to it and bring health and social services together. 

Illustrating, Plaid Cymru’s commitment to community level democracy, Leanne Wood will also reiterate that the party will aim to extend the coverage of community councils across the whole of the nation either through mergers or a clustering approach, and that the party would give these bodies freedom and autonomy to regenerate their communities.

Plaid Cyrmu Leader Leanne Wood commented: "Plaid Cymru will be in a position to go into next year’s elections with a reform agenda and an intention to create strong combined authorities which can deliver public services effectively and play a key economic role. There is no reason to deliver every public service 22 times, but neither should we try for a quick fix or rushed job that doesn’t include a full consideration of the health service."

"The Plaid Cymru approach will ensure that no community is left behind. Every community will have access to local democracy, and every community will be able to benefit from inclusion in a regional approach. This public service reform will be part of Plaid Cymru’s ambition to turn around the Welsh economy, improve our public services and strengthen the nation." Ms Wood added.