First published Friday, January 17, 2014
Monday, 20th January 2014 will see the publication of the Williams Commission report and the suggestions for revisions to the 22 local authorities in Wales, as well as some comment on the existing structure of National Park Authorities. As with any such publication, there have already been various rumours and stories published, with comments suggesting up to 15,000 local authority jobs may be lost, that there will be a significantly lower number of local authorities than at present, that National Park Authorities may be abolished and so on.
Of course, until the report is released into the public domain, speculation will continue to abound and the rumour mill will be working overtime. Wales has already seen some changes in the political and economic maps with the introduction of Enterprise Zones, such as the Milford Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone, and the creation of City Regions (the Swansea Bay City Region being that affecting Pembrokeshire).
Whether the existence of such ‘economic regeneration’ areas will influence the out come of potential boundary changes remains to be seen. Given that Pembrokeshire used to sit alongside Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire under the former Dyfed Council area, but is allied to the local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot in the Swansea Bay City Region already creates questions, with many still unsure as to the how the City Region will impact on the economic progress and development of the county.
For public sector employees, and private sector employers, there are many questions being asked, the majority currently without answers. Given the scale of public sector cuts in Wales already, and the impact that will have on the current job market, further changes to boundaries, although not likely to be immediate, will undoubtedly create a large pool of people seeking alternative employment. Whilst the private sector is recovering, only time will tell whether there is sufficient demand for growth and job creation to react to an increase in the candidate pool, both here in Wales, and further afield in the UK as a whole.