The Welsh Government has announced wide-ranging local government reforms through the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill, published today.
The Bill will provide councils with a new power of general competence, streamlines council governance and performance requirements and introduces electoral reforms, including votes for 16-17 year olds, which broadly mirror those recently introduced for the Assembly.
Commenting on the introduction of the Bill, Baroness Wilcox of Newport, WLGA Leader said:
“There is much to welcome in the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill. It is the culmination of several years of policy development, including a Draft Bill and several Green and White Papers, and provides councils with clarity on the Welsh Government’s agenda for reform.”
“Councils have not stood still and have reformed and transformed services, despite a decade of austerity. Councils have innovated and collaborated to ensure their services respond to the needs of their communities and the Bill will provide councils with new powers and greater flexibility to meet these and future challenges.”
“The power of general competence, electoral reform and the streamlining of governance and performance requirements are particularly welcome. Some parts of the Bill have been developed in partnership with local government, through the working group chaired by Derek Vaughan, and leaders have valued the Minister for Housing and Local Government’s commitment to co-production and partnership.”
“There will inevitably, however, be some proposals that will divide opinion, including the Ministerial power to establish regional Corporate Joint Committees and some proposals have the potential to add burdens and will have budgetary implications.”
The Bill is a significant piece of legislation and, combined with the accompanying legal documents, runs to over 800 pages. The WLGA and local authorities will need to carefully consider the detail, financial implications and impact of the proposed reforms during the coming months but look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government in developing guidance and support for councils in implementing the legislative reforms.