Tucked away on page 20 of yesterday's Daily Post was a (somewhat long) Op Ed by Ieuan Wyn Jones setting out his position on the future of Anglesey County Council. I welcome that in response to some prodding in the press he has finally come out and explained his position, the essence if it being that although he feels "further intervention in the workings of the council is ... inevitable", he does not believe that "we have yet reached the position that the best interests of the council or the people of Anglesey would be served by the complete withdrawal of powers from elected councillors and the appointment of commissioners". However most importantly Ieuan Wyn Jones unequivocally states that he does "oppose a merger between Ynys Môn and Gwynedd, since it would not be in the best interests of either council". He has been very clear in words, but lets see if he will also follow through with action.
As it happens the new report on Anglesey Council by the Auditor General will be completed shortly and passed to WAG Local Government minister, Carl Sargeant. We don't know what it will say, but its possible that it could recommend that the problems at Ynys Môn are so intractable that a merger with a neighbouring authority should be looked into. That would be convenient for Sargeant as just next week the WAG Local Government Measure -- which currently includes the controversial powers to forcefully amalgamate local authorities -- will be debated by AMs again. An independent report from the Auditor General recommending the merging of Ynys Môn and Gwynedd would be useful ammunition for Carl Sargeant. The Conservatives and Lib Dems however are pledged to oppose the powers which would allow WAG to force council mergers -- therefore Carl Sargeant will only be able to get it passed if Plaid Cymru AMs support it.
If Ieuan Wyn Jones truly believes that Ynys Môn and Gwynedd should not be merged, will he instruct his AMs not to support this part of the Measure? That will be the true test of his commitment to preserve Ynys Môn.