Time to Rethink Policy on Cross Border Housing; M North East Must Carry Influence

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Byline: ERYL CRUMP

LOCAL authorities should not assume responsibility for cross-border housing - allowing homes to be built in north east Wales to accommodate demand from England a former council leader said.

North Wales AM Aled Roberts gave a lecture at the National Eisteddfod entitled "Border Politics in North-East Wales".

The former leader of Wrexham Borough Council says consultations across the whole of North Wales have shown that residents on the border with Cheshire are not in favour of continuing with the pace of development seen over the last 20 years.

"It will be necessary for the politicians in Cardiff to re-think their strategies if they expect the North East to play its full part in devolution," he said.

"It is my belief the strength of the Labour Party previously in North-East Wales has led to issues of accountability being held away from the area.

"We must resist the temptation to centralise power in Cardiff so that the people of North East Wales can feel that they have real influence in the development of their role within the new Wales."

The Liberal Democrat AM also called for a re-think of "creating a cross-border sub-region which then determines the framework in which local government and the Welsh Government operate".

However, he acknowledged there has not been a consistent political approach across the region.

"It would appear that Flintshire has been ready to accept its role as part of the Liverpool City sub-region, whilst Denbighshire was never considered to be part of the policy.

"Meanwhile, Wrexham made a political decision in 2007 not to be considered as part of the plan.

"This is where the current policies of the Welsh Government to encourage local authorities to merge or collaborate may stifle the ability of individual areas to reflect local political aspirations," said Mr Roberts. …