Huge congratulations to the Welsh Labour Party. Against all predictions, today’s election results provide a mandate to Carwyn Jones and his Assembly colleagues to continue providing the Government of Wales. For over a century Labour has been the party of Wales and once again the people of Wales confirmed this reality.
Carwyn, as in the last Assembly, will lead a minority Labour Government. Once again there will be no coalition and no majority for any legislative proposal to diminish local democracy by reducing the number of principal local authorities in Wales.
In recent years councils have been radically re-shaping public services in the context of 40% austerity cuts to most services and have been doing so in a debilitating environment of constant denigration and threats to their very existence.
Sadly, the last Welsh Government accepted the analysis of the Williams Commission with its advocacy of top down, large scale oganisational structures last seen in the heyday of Henry Ford and Joseph Stalin. All the opposition parties in the Assembly election specifically set themselves against the Williams prescription.
One of the first acts of Carwyn’s new Government must be to state that there will be no bill to reduce the number of principal local authorities in Wales, recognising that any such bill will fail to gain a majority. This would release Welsh local government to build on a certain future; create the regional structures necessary to promote economic development and regional investment; and also empower local towns and rural communities. This would be an exciting agenda which would enthuse local councils and gain a large majority in the new Welsh Assembly.