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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Merge in haste, repent at leisure

Further to my post yesterday on Peter Hain's over-confidence that he can conclude the process of agreeing a single all-Wales Police force by Friday, the House of Commons Welsh affairs committee has now got in on the act.

They have accused the UK Government of adopting a "one-size-fits-all" approach to merging Wales' four police forces and they say that Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has damaged the consultation process by saying he approved of an all-Wales option before the evidence had been collated. This is a particularly damning verdict considering the Committee is chaired by a Labour MP and has a Labour majority.

Meanwhile, opposition politicians in Westminster and in Cardiff Bay have warned the merger could mean higher taxes. A leaked Welsh Assembly Government estimate last week said the cost to council taxpayers in the South Wales Police area could increase by 17% under a single force. There have also been fears that resources will diverted away from the north and rural areas and given instead to towns and cities in the south.

Although Peter Hain accepted that some of the criticisms in this report were valid in his Radio Wales interview this morning, he was nevertheless, unrepentant. At one stage he even said that he did not believe that a proper three month consultation period would make any difference as the Government would still have gone ahead with the merger on their terms. This is not leadership, it is arrogance.
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