A chair of a community council that is one of five councils disappearing following the boundary review has slammed Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) for failing to listen to them over the years.

George Edwards‘ letter to the Monmouthshire Beacon criticised the way the boundary review has left many councillors “disillusioned” and was the tipping point for many after years of frustration with the “powers that be”.

The two new councils that will replace Llangattock-vibon-avel Community Council (LVA) on May 6 - Whitecastle and Skenfrith - do not have enough councillors to meet and make decisions without intervention by the principal authority as the whole process has disillusioned existing councillors to such an extent that not enough people have come forward to fill the seats - none of the nine councillors for LVA put themselves forward again.

At their penultimate meeting, some said it was sad to witness how frustrated fellow councillors had become as they had sought to resolve many issues regarding the boundary changes and the subsequent repercussions for the council and local democracy.

They all felt that MCC had not “listened seriously” to concerns and questions “and as a result local democracy and local people will be the ones to suffer”.

“Surely this isn’t good enough?,” one said.

Another councillor said it was “a mess of their own making”.

They foresee that when MCC realise that the new community councils of Skenfrith and Whitecastle will not have enough councillors to be quorate, this may kick them into action “but it will be too little, too late and local democracy will be the poorer for having lost such experienced and dedicated local councillors” added another.

The boundary review came about following a Welsh Government wish to ensure electors are more evenly represented throughout Wales and a review of community areas within the county was made by MCC who submitted their findings to the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission (LDBC) who accepted the 2014 proposals.

However, there were grassroots objections to the review as it did not take into account historic parish boundaries and the new boundaries themselves sometimes followed no logical paths.

A number of community and town councils expressed their concerns that the report had been published prior to them being afforded the opportunity to submit their objections and comments to the draft proposals produced by MCC.

The boundary commission submitted its final report on that community review to the Welsh Government in January 2019 and the following year, the Welsh Government accepted the recommendations.

But Shân Bowden, Development Officer for One Voice Wales, the body that represents local councils, said that town and community councils had been “misinformed by MCC about the review process” as they were under the impression that they would be given the opportunity to submit their objections to the boundary commission which was incorrect and despite representations being made by One Voice Wales to Shereen Williams CEO of LDBC, the only option available was to submit their views directly to the Local Government Division of Welsh Government within the twelve week public consultation period, which some did.

“We now understand that the Minister for Housing and Local Government had signed off the LDBC Final Report on the Community Review without amendment despite the comments submitted by councils to the Welsh Government” she added.

Knowing of the disappointment and frustrations of a number of town and community councils, One Voice Wales again wrote to the CEO of the boundary commission asking if MCC had acted negligently or unlawfully as regards the review and whether a fresh review could be undertaken or at least reviewed to take account of the responses submitted by Monmouthshire’s councils.

Shereen Williams, CEO of the boundary commission replied: ““The Commission is aware as a result of correspondence it has received as well as the views expressed at a meeting on the 16 January 2020 of some town and community council’s objections to the Community Review conducted by MCC.

She added that “although the LDBC is content that MCC acted in accordance with the Local Government 1972 Act, “it is highly regretful that MCC erroneously stated that there would be a consultation by the commission”.

Llangattock-vibon-avel Community Council held their last meeting on April 28, frustrated that no arrangements can be made to transfer assets and finance as the new councils does not yet exist despite MCC wanting a decision on reserves signed off by all parties prior to taking receipt of anything “as we would only be processing it rather than handling any decisions”.