|dc.description.abstract||There is an extensive literature on the different ways in which central government interferes in local government. Within the UK, there appears to be a regular interference, with restructuring in the mid-1970s, the early 1990s, and a seemingly ongoing process over the last decade or so. With a unitary constitution, any government - or, more accurately, any government using its parliamentary majority to push through legislation - can remould or even abolish local government.
Yet with the introduction of devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the late 1990s, the newly created 'regional' assemblies and parliament were given varying degrees of power over local government. The Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government were originally given secondary legislative powers in a discrete list of policy sectors, which included local government. After a referendum in 2011, these secondary powers were changed to primary legislative powers.
In Wales, there are a number of issues concerning restructuring local government. These include the extent to which it is a party-political concern, with the Labour Party driving the reform agenda, as opposed to a Welsh Government drive. The establishment of the Williams Commission into public sector reform, of which one component was local government, was presented as a public consultation exercise. Yet the extent to which the Williams Report was in line with the position of the Labour Party over local government restructuring needs to be examined.
The implementation of the plans to restructure local government in Wales was put on hold until after the 2016 elections to the Welsh Assembly, with the clear plan from the Labour Party of winning a mandate for implementation. Interestingly, local government restructuring was not high on the election agenda. A minority Labour Government was returned to power. No potential coalition partner was willing to run with local government restructuring. For now, that agenda appears to be on hold.
This paper will assess the extent to which local government restructuring in Wales is driven from a party political base, as well as from a centralising 'regional' government. Local government restructuring is not always driven from the 'national' centre, but can be driven from a 'regional' centre. Yet there may also be a party-political drive in that region as well.||en