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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Isherwood calls for answers on council merger costs

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Minister for Public Services to respond to a report showing that council mergers could cost up to £268 million.
Mr Isherwood, who has previously warned that forcing councils to merge would be "grossly irresponsible" because of the cost at a time of spending cuts, raised the matter in the Assembly Chamber this week.
He said: "The glaring omission from the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery (which looked at the way public services are governed and delivered in Wales) was the most important factor, which was an independent cost evaluation.
“Finally, we have an independent cost evaluation commissioned by the WLGA from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountancy showing costs of up to £268 million and savings, not until three years after the mergers, of £65 million, through front and back office service mergers, which could happen without full merger. When I raised this last week, the Minister for Business said that it was a matter for you. Could I call on you, therefore, to make a formal response to that vital report and advise us accordingly how you intend to do that?”
The Minister replied: “There are certain costs in the CIPFA report that we do not accept and we still think that there is work to be done in some aspects of this, which is why we are commissioning a review of the costs of administration of local government.”
Mr Isherwood added: “This Minister’s belief that big is always beautiful and his disregard for vital independent research is chilling. With his focus on structures rather than cost effective service delivery, he is threatening local authorities with millions of pounds of additional costs at a time of big reductions in their budgets.”

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