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Written Statement - White Paper:  Reforming Local Government – Power to Local People

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Public Services

Today we are publishing our White Paper on Local Government Reform, Power to Local People. Our White Paper sets out our vision for Local Government in Wales based on activist Councils, engaged in delivering modern, accessible, high quality public services with their local communities. 

The White Paper delivers a new deal for Local Government which recasts the relationship between Welsh Government and Local Government, with a new framework for public service delivery based on the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill. Priorities would be set by Welsh Government in a small number of key national priority areas – for example, education, social services, economic development, waste and planning – leaving Local Government to set the bulk of its priorities with local people. Local Authorities and eligible Community Councils would be granted a general power of competence. 

Our proposals would reduce the cost of politics and management in Local Government. There would be a review of the remuneration of Councillors, Leaders and Cabinet Members, to bring the overall cost down, in line with other parts of the UK. There would be tight controls on the remuneration of Chief Executives and other chief officers. We propose Chief Executives would be recruited through a national recruitment process and the role and responsibilities of the Chief Executive in Local Authorities would be defined in legislation. The role of our public service workforce will be supported through the Public Service Staff Commission.

We want Local Authorities which reflect the diversity of our communities in Wales. We propose placing  a legal duty on Council Leaders to ensure diversity amongst Elected Members and senior Council staff.

Our proposals will require Local Authorities to take greater responsibility for performance. We want Chief Executives to have a statutory duty to drive performance improvement. We want to see a culture in which audit and inspection are the last lines of defence of quality public services, not the first.

We want Councillors to act as community champions, leading local initiatives to improve service delivery. We will open up new opportunities for communities to own and manage local services where this is appropriate, looking to the Welsh tradition of cooperatives and mutuals. Responsibility for ensuring consistency amongst Community Councils will lie with Principal Local Authorities and we will expect them to hold a review of Town and Community Councils in their areas.

I will be making an oral statement on our proposals this afternoon.

Notes
An Everyday Summary and Young People’s version of the White Paper have been produced to support the consultation. An online consultation survey has been developed to support the consultation.

These documents and a link to the consultation survey can be found online.

A public awareness campaign will also be running alongside the consultation to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the consultation and the Welsh Government’s intentions for Reforming Local Government.

Information on the public awareness campaign can be found at: 
www.wales.gov.uk/councilstochange