Sunday, 1 April 2012

May elections will put Welsh councillors in for life

Liberal Democrat Voice has published what is probably a spoof story this April 1st about English local authorities. The thesis is that Eric Pickles is concerned about budget-setting being carried out too close to the end of a council's life, that he wants to see it as one of the early functions of a new council and that he will therefore legislate to bring forward local authority elections from May to February. The story is here, but don't be surprised if it disappears by 11:59.

However, it did raise a serious point (or a bit of trivia, if you prefer). Earlier this month, the local communities minister in the Welsh Government confirmed that councillors elected next month will be in for a five-year term instead of the normal four years. This is ostensibly in order to avoid a clash with the next Welsh Assembly elections, themselves put back a year because of the new fixed date for the UK general election in 2015.

The extended life of the existing councils will also give more time to the Welsh Government to prepare its stated objective of creating new super-councils, merging two or three unitaries. It is therefore possible that the next term for Welsh councillors will be their last for the life of their present councils. It will also enable some of those who are elected to the 2017 super-councils to claim a bizarre record of serving their communities under four different local government structures*. I can think of several Neath Port Talbot CBC members who would qualify and be up for this.

*Before the 1994 Act setting up the Welsh unitary councils, there was the 1985 Local Government Reorganisation Act which applied to both England and Wales.


Anonymous said...


The Welsh Government has denied time and time again that it intends to merge councils.

I happen to think they are wrong - but where is your evidence that it is their 'stated objective'?

Where exactly did they state it?

They didn't.

Frank H Little said...

I haven't seen these "repeated denials". My sources are Labour councillors. If the Welsh Government didn't want to merge councils, why have they taken legal powers to do so?