UNISON Wales calls for all parties to engage in constructive discussions on the public services minister Leighton Andrews’ proposed new council map and for the staff that provide our valued local services to be placed at the heart of considerations.
UNISON organises over 50,000 local government workers in Wales.
Local government has been in a state of limbo since the publication of the Williams commission report and, now that the wait is finally over for specific proposals to be tabled, there is an urgent need for councils, Welsh government and the trade unions to engage positively in discussions to ensure that any new structures are fit for purpose and sustainable, so that our essential public services and the workers that provide them are protected.
If Wales is going to survive this damaging period of Westminster driven austerity, it is important that Welsh politicians reach a consensus over how councils are going to be re-structured, prior to next year’s Assembly elections, to avoid this turning into a party political battlefield which will further undermine services.
As part of these discussions UNISON will be calling for the Welsh government to commit to funding the transitional costs of restructuring local government, using an ‘invest to save’ model. If councils are asked to fund restructuring then this would only exacerbate the existing funding crisis which has seen services cut or dramatically reduced and thousands of staff made redundant.
Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Wales head of local government, said:
“There is a need for all parties to engage constructively in the discussions around this new council map, this is not a time to play parochial or party politics over the future of local government; there now needs to be a constructive dialogue in order to ensure that we create sustainable structures to deliver the essential services that our communities rely on.
“UNISON for its part will be consulting our members through our established structures, before responding formally to these proposals; but we will be demanding that staff, our members, are put at the heart of considerations and that Welsh government commits to providing adequate funding for the transition costs of any restructuring.”