Written by Andy Hughes
On the anniversary of Wales voting ‘Yes’ in the devolution referendum in 1997 the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP, has called for Wales to decentralise power away from Cardiff and to ‘respond to the challenge’ which has been posed by the recent election of Metro Mayors in Manchester, Merseyside and the West of England.
Mr Cairns told the BBC this week that centralising powers through the Welsh Government in Cardiff “doesn't answer the needs of all parts of Wales.” He added that he could see the benefit of “greater devolution to authorities, to individuals across the whole of Wales rather than keeping them in Cardiff Bay at all stages."
With the recent election of the Manchester, Merseyside and West of England Metro Mayors, Mr Cairns’ statement poses an interesting question for the future of devolution and the governance structure Wales.
With the regional Metro Mayors overseeing the implementation of devolution deals in policy areas such as housing, transport, economic development, skills growth and further education, there is certainly a discussion to be had on how decisions on these issues can be made on a more regional level in Wales as well in order to reflect the different requirements of communities across the country.
This would not only reflect the fact that one size does not necessarily fit all when it comes to these policy areas but would also help to address the distance that many areas, particularly in north and west Wales, feel from decision makers in Cardiff Bay.
Whilst uncertainty remains about the future shape of local government in Wales and potentially a lack of appetite to add a further layer of governance in Wales, there is certainly opportunity to debate and discuss the merits of more regional decision making on an issue such as planning which goes beyond the formulation of Local and Strategic Development Plans.
Remarkable Engagement’s Wales team, located a short distance from the National Assembly, offers a broad range of experience and knowledge across the devolved policy areas, and should you wish to know more about the devolved political landscape or our public affairs, stakeholder engagement and community consultation services please get in touch with our Welsh office via firstname.lastname@example.org or 02921 670 468.