“Local government matters to everyone.” – John Griffiths AM

Published 22/11/2019   |   Last Updated 05/12/2019

​National Assembly launches public survey on Local Government 

Changes to who’s able to vote in council elections, how local authorities engage with the public and how they work together were proposed this week when the Welsh Government introduced its Local Government and Elections Bill. Now it’s over to the National Assembly to examine the proposals and scrutinise the Bill.

The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee will consult the public and invite experts to present their views on the proposals. It will then report on its findings, including making recommendations to the Welsh Government.
Proposals in the Bill include:
  • Enabling 16 and 17-year-olds and foreign citizens living in Wales to vote in council elections
  • Allowing each of the 22 councils in Wales to decide which voting system to use – first past the post or single transferable vote - which is considered to be a system of proportional representation
  • Making it easier for people to be included on the electoral register, by giving electoral registration officers the power to add people to the register, without the need for them to apply
  • Enabling the piloting of reforms to local government elections after 2022, such as holding elections on different days and having polling stations in a variety of places
  • Requiring councils to publish a public participation strategy and put a petitions scheme in place
  • Creating powers to facilitate voluntary mergers of councils and restructuring a local authority areas

Encouraging local people to take part in local government
The Committee is today launching a consultation on the whole Bill as well as a national survey, asking what people think about increasing public participation in local democracy and improving transparency.

The Bill has been introduced with the aim of equipping local government with new and better ways of engaging with communities. It also looks to ensure that citizens are kept informed of, and have the opportunities to share their views on decisions made by local authorities that affect their lives.

John Griffiths AM, chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said: 

“Local government matters to everyone. We might not always realise it, but it touches our lives in some way, every day.
“It is important for us to look at how councils engage with the public because their decisions affect our day to day lives. From the ways in which rubbish is collected and recycled, how roads are maintained, to how the most vulnerable people are cared for and protected.

“The ways we live and work in Wales are always changing. New technologies, cuts to public services and our relationships with those who support and serve our communities can make it challenging for local government to keep up with the pace of change.

“This Bill covers a wide range of issues relating to local government. These are important issues and it’s our role to ensure the proposals are thoroughly scrutinised.

“Today we’re calling on the people of Wales to tell us what they think about the Welsh Government’s proposals for the future of local government.”