RCT to be 'lead' authority if coroner areas are to merge.
Byline: Sam Tegeltija Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
RHONDDA Cynon Taf council is likely to agree the merger of two separate coroner areas into a larger entity covering South Wales Central, for which it will become the "lead" authority.
The council's cabinet members will meet on Tuesday to discuss the move, which would see the merger of the Powys, Bridgend and Glamorgan Valleys coroner area with the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan area.
A report by RCT's director of legal and democratic services recommends cabinet members agree to the proposal, and in turn urges full council to agree the move at a subsequent meeting.
Consultation over the change proposed by the Ministry of Justice ends next Friday, and the merger could come into effect by the end of March 2016.
The report says: "The Coroners Act 2009 gives the Lord Chancellor the power to alter the boundaries of coroner areas in England and Wales along the boundaries of one or more local authorities.
"The intention behind this power is to enable the creation of fewer, larger coroner areas which will give local authorities the potential to make savings through economies of scale and allow full-time coroners to focus entirely on their coronial duties to develop their skills and experiences fully. Both the Ministry of Justice and the chief coroner are in favour of such mergers and encourage authorities to consider the benefits these may bring to both the authority and users.
"It is proposed cabinet recommend to council that the council agrees to the proposed merger of the Powys, Bridgend and Glamorgan Valleys and Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan coroner areas.
"[It is also proposed that] the council agrees with the assessment made in the business case of the impacts of the proposed merger and agrees no negative impacts of the proposed merger have been identified."
Funding for the new South Wales Central coroner area would be split up by the six councils it covers with Cardiff paying for 33.35% of costs, RCT for 22.59%, Bridgend for 13.41%, Powys for 12.81%, Vale of Glamorgan for 12.17% and Merthyr Tydfil for 5.67%.
The coroner courts in Aberdare, Brecon Law Court, Welshpool Magistrates' Court and the courtroom at Cardiff Central Police Station would continue to be used - but, if Brecon Law Court shuts in separate Ministry of Justice closures, an option to use Llandrindod Wells Law Court is open. Andrew Barkley is currently the acting coroner for both areas, and a recruitment process for a full-time senior coroner would follow the merger.
Cardiff Coroner's Court, based at Cardiff Central Police Station,could be merged into a larger coroner area