The Leader of Cardiff Council Rodney Berman has welcomed the action taken today by the Welsh Government Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sergeant in response to the independent review, led by Glyn Mathias, into the programme and process of electoral reviews of unitary council areas in Wales that has been underway since 2008.
When giving oral evidence to the Mathias Review, Councillor Berman made clear his view that the only way to restore confidence in the electoral review process was to install new Commissioners to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales. He has therefore welcomed today’s announcement by Carl Sargeant AM that he is terminating the appointment of the three existing Commissioners.
In response to today’s statement in the Senedd by Carl Sargeant AM, Councillor Berman said:
“The Mathias Review paints a picture I recognise that amounts to nothing less than a catalogue of disaster since 2008. Clearly, fault lies in the first instance with the Welsh Government for not starting the review process quickly enough and for setting the Boundary Commission an impossible timetable to work within. But there was also a failure on behalf of the current Commissioners for accepting that timetable in the first place.
He went on to say that: “The Mathias Review also shows that the Welsh Government did not give sufficient resources to the Boundary Commission to enable it to carry out this work effectively within the required timeframe. However, much of the criticism does, I think, need to be directed towards the Commissioners themselves. As the report recognises, they decided on a more radical approach to the local government boundary reviews than their predecessors without first establishing whether such an approach had the support of Welsh Ministers or the Welsh local government community.
“I have also had my own concerns, which I raised at the time, that the Commissioners had completely misunderstood the mathematics that had been set out in the Directions that were provided to them by the former Minister, Brian Gibbons, at the outset of the process. I believe this contributed to mistakes being made and reviews then being delayed, leading to innumerable complaints from councils right across Wales.
“One of the biggest concerns I now have is how much public money has been wasted during the past three years, given that new Commissioners will be appointed by the Welsh Government and, once in place, will effectively have to start the whole boundary review process again from square one.
“The initial deadline for the completion of these electoral reviews in time for the 2012 local elections has clearly been missed, but I am alarmed to also read that the Mathias Review recognises there is now a risk that they might even now not all be completed to the relevant standard in time for the 2016 local elections either.”