25/06/2010

Ceredigion & Powys to share highway services

Ceredigion and Powys Councils are planning to increasingly share their highway services in an effort to cut costs.

The two councils have been meeting for some months to sort out arrangements and are now in agreement that they can work more closely together on a regular basis following the holding of workshops between the staff of the two authorities.

The working together is likely to involve sharing highways contracts and workloads to take advantage of economies of scale. Ceredigion is also working with Powys on waste. The Councils have promised their staff the plans will involve no redundancies but that, when vacancies arise, they will be looked at across the two authorities. Responsibility for any work will remain with the individual authorities.

As an illustration of the kind of pressures highways authorities are going to be under in the new financial climate, the new Trunk Road budget is due to go down from £16.3 million per year to £8.1 million from September.

Gwynedd have also been involved in the talks but want to do more research before agreeing to take part. It may be that they’re also considering an arrangement with Denbighsire, Conwy and Ynys Mon. The idea of involving the private sector was thrown out unceremoniously at a meeting of Ceredigion councillors several months ago.

Ceredigion and Powys working together fits in with the Wales spatial plan which identifies Aberystywth as the main town in mid Wales and a town of national significance, as shown by the locating of the new Assembly offices at Parc y Llyn.

4 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 26, 2010

    No problem with this in principle, but where will democratic control lie? Will there be a joint committee of both councils in charge of any new arrangements? I ask this because, in my view, highway management is a huge milch cow for private contractors who, frankly, rip off the public purse. Elected members need to scrutinise each contract, keep track of cost over-runs and keep a very close eye on tender lists. The potential savings here can, if fact, turn out to be a chimera.

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  2. AnonymousJune 27, 2010

    "....in my view, highway management is a huge milch cow for private contractors who, frankly, rip off the public purse."

    Anon, that's quite a sweeping statement,and probably grossly untrue - unless, of course, you are prepared to provide some proof.

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  3. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    While collaborating with other authorities over this kind of thing is inevitable and probably welcome, I do worry long-term about Ceredigion and Powys being seen as natural partners. Despite the increasing wider regional role of Aber, as someone born and raised in the north of the county I still regard Ceredigion has having far more natural cultural, practical and transport links with the south - the old Dyfed. If another local government reorg. comes about I'd hate to be in with Powys, an area which is bloody difficult to get to and with which we have very little in common.

    Sorry - that's a bit tangential I know, but the thing which prompted me to comment was the map. A lovely bit of political cartography ('all maps are political'. Discuss...).
    I love the way Ponterwyd is marked, giving the impression that at least one of Ceredigion's major settlements nestles against the county border, whereas in fact it's a community of barely 250 souls, and the 15 miles either side of the border largely consists of sheep and mountains. Same the other side - why is tiny Llangammarch included and not, say, Ystradgynlais?

    It's not your map I'm sure, but it's just like a Lib Dem barchart. Theoretically accurate but designed to deceive. Where did it come from?

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  4. Anon 1 - Valid point to raise. The arrangements will be monitored by the respective Scrutiny Committees from each Council. As it happens the Highways Scrunity Committee in Ceredigion is quite suspicious of private sector involvement (sorry Anon 2) so can probably be relied upon to watch that closely.

    Anon 3 - Which other counties Ceredigion partners with is an interesting debate. Although we've historically had more to do with Carmarthenshire and Pembs, the fact is that any partnership with them is inevitably going to be skewed towards the south and away from Aberystwyth which was only on the periphery of the old Dyfed. Carmarthenshire has a population of 178,000 compared to Ceredigion's 77,000. What Ceredigion and Powys have in common is that they are the two Welsh counties with the lowest population density so share many of the same issues of rurality, distance etc. I'm sure there'll be much more debate on this issue in the future.

    There was nothing intentionally political about the map. I simply looked for a Ceredigion/Powys map in Google Images and came up with this one from a bed & breakfast site! Still, you've alerted me to the possibility of political mapping. If, in the future, I'm shown a map with particular prominence given to the metropolises of Llangurig and Cwm Ystwyth I'll know to be suspicious.

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