Friday, January 04, 2013

We don't need more Councils but more creative ones

Earlier this week it was reported in the media that the Mayor of Llanelli Town Council was leading an attempt to break the town away from Carmarthen County Council and establish Llanelli as an Authority in its own right.

The proposal fell at the first hurdle when he failed to get the support of fellow Town Councillors, but it was not likely to have got much further anyway.

The story of course planted a seed in the minds of others, or in some cases reawakened an idea they had earlier tossed into the air – what about doing this in Ponty?  Pontypridd is similar in a number of respects to Llanelli, and there are residents in both towns who will argue that they get the short end of the stick from the County Council.

Yet there are people in the Rhondda who will argue that all investment goes to Taff Ely, Cynon residents who says it is all spent in the Rhondda, and no doubt people in Carmarthen town who claim all the money goes to Llanelli – you get the picture

Of course even if Llanelli Town Council had voted in favour then the proposal was a non-starter, mainly because of the reasons given by the Council Chief Executive to the media.  You cannot just declare independence for one town without having knock-on effects and you are then talking about complete reorganisation of local government boundaries.  That is going to happen at some point but when it does it is going to result in bigger authorities not smaller ones. The Minister would simply refuse permission.

There is merit in the idea of delegating more responsibility (and the budget that goes with it) for some aspects to Town and Community Councils – many of which at the moment are little more than talking shops.  Devolution of power closer to the people is an idea that could work in certain instances if done properly, but random declarations of independence will not help.

It is not a breakaway Council and a battle with nearby towns that either Llanelli or Pontypridd need.  It is a Unitary Authority – wherever that may be based – that has both officers and elected members with vision and ambition for the whole area, and maybe Town councils that are more pro-active. 

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