Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New proposals for Welsh councils thin on detail?

The Wasting Mule report that the the  vote would be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds in council elections and local authorities would be able to choose their own voting systems under proposals published today by the Welsh Government.
A White Paper, launched by Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford, also sets out how councils will deliver some of their services together.
The White Paper, which is out for consultation until the beginning of April, is the result of months of discussions between the Welsh Government, local authorities and others on how to strengthen council services in the face of future challenges.
It seeks views on proposals to make councils work together on a regional basis to deliver a range of services, address workforce issues, and implement electoral reform including allowing voting at 16.
I am not sure if allowing councils to choose their own voting system is right , is Mr Drakeford proposing we have different systems in Gwynedd and Merthyr?
 it seems that it will be used by some councils particularity Labour run ones to preserve their hegemony and the only move is when  they temporally lose power and a different party take the opportunity  to change the rules.
What happens if councils merge and they operated two different electoral systems ?
Of course yo could have referendums when it comes to change , but it looks like a recipe for Gerrymandering.
Apart from this the white paper seems to have some reasonable proposals although the details seem a bit sparse.
 It o calls on members of the public to become active participants in local democracy and in the design and delivery of services.
Under the proposals new regional bodies would be set up to promote economic development.
They would also cover certain planning functions and transport.
Councils would have some flexibility over how they share responsibility for other mandatory services including education improvement, social services, additional learning needs, public protection and promotion of the Welsh language.
Councillors would make up the membership of new, enhanced joint committees which would oversee these services and make decisions on behalf of their respective councils. 
But it seems rather thin and even if councillors make up these bodies. I wonder if especially under the seeming proposed electoral system , could see  areas where one Party has a predominance of councillors dominating these joint committees?

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