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Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Llan councillor opposes merger with Conwy
Llangollen councillor Stuart Davies has voted against the possibility of a voluntary merger between Denbighshire County Council and neighbouring Conwy.
A deadline of the end of November has been set for councils across Wales to consider expressing an interest in a voluntary merger.
Councillors in both counties met separately in September and agreed to investigate the potential of merger, providing doing so voluntarily would offer substantial financial advantages.
They met again yesterday (Monday) and agreed to a positive response to the expressions of interest request.
But during a debate on the issue at County Hall in Denbighshire, Cllr Davies argued against the idea.
He said: “My people in Llangollen are talking to me and saying, `what is the point of going to Conwy’. They don’t like the idea and don’t see the point. It’s over the other side of the mountain, and I tend to agree. I tend to look the other way towards Wrexham.
“I’m the guy who fought the fight to keep Llangollen in Denbighshire in 1999.
“I think there is still too much uncertainty in this for me and in my view we should be staying where we are.
“I’m not going to be voting for this recommendation myself.
“Like Wrexham, we should stand up and say no. I’m fed up with the Welsh Government telling us what to do.
“We should keep the status quo and for a few little bits and pieces go to Wrexham.”
Subject to the Welsh Government's response to the Expression of Interest, which is expected in January 2015, work will start on preparing a full business case for merger, to be considered by both councils in summer 2015.
Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: "We were the first councils in Wales to publicly declare an interest in the potential of a merger with a neighbouring authority, but we must make it clear that this is an expression of interest and not a full business case for merger. We have agreed to formally explore the options, with a view to consider submitting a full business case in the summer. We believe there are a number of important reasons to proceed to develop a full business case.”
Leader of Conwy, Cllr Dilwyn Roberts, said: "There are similarities between the local authority areas - cost savings could be made. There is early encouraging support from the Welsh Government and there are advantages to voluntary merger over a compulsory move, but there are also risks to managing the merger process and the outcome. All this will be taken into account when a full business case is drawn up.”
During their discussions today, councillors in both Conwy and Denbighshire acknowledged that the impact on residents and local communities would be a key consideration.
To see a webcast of the debate go to: http://www.denbighshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/155310
Cllr Davies appears at 1.21.