Plans which could see Wales’ 22 councils cut through mergers to as few as ten have been resurrected by the Welsh Government
Local government secretary Alun Davies said: “Councils have been clear that services are wearing down to the point of collapse.”
He said they accept that things cannot carry on as they are. “The next step must be game-changing,” he said.
Voluntary mergers or a phased approach are among the options being considered.
The announcement comes after the previous policy from the Welsh Government – forced regional joint working – was scrapped.
Previous plans to merge authorities to eight were also shelved after the Senedd elections.
Mr Davies said: “Wales needs strong, effective, empowered local authorities which can weather continued austerity and build local democratic structures fit for future generations.
“I do not believe that our local authorities, as currently constituted, can fully play this role; and I am not alone.
“Councils have been clear that services are wearing down to the point of collapse and there is a general acceptance that things cannot carry on as they are and a general acknowledgement that more money, even if it were available, would not solve the problem.”
A green paper proposes ten possible new council areas, which would result in the mergers of:
- Isle of Anglesey and Gwynedd
- Conwy and Denbighshire
- Flintshire and Wrexham
- Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire
- Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
- Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
- Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff
- Newport and Caerphilly
- Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire
Powys would remain unmerged under the proposal. The councils would be aligned with current health board boundaries.
The Welsh Government proposes three options – allowing authorities to merger voluntarily, a phased approach that would allow early adopters to merge in 2022 with others doing so by 2026, and a single merger programme taking place in 2022.