A NEW regional committee covering the south east of Wales is expected to merge with the current Cardiff Capital Region City Deal into one body, a meeting has heard.

The South East Wales Corporate Joint Committee (CJC) will hold its first meeting on Monday, January 31, where members will agree next year’s budget as well as appointing a chairman and vice-chairman.

Four CJCs are being set up across Wales, with the new committees responsible for delivering a Strategic Development Plan, developing a regional transport plan and economic development.

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The aim is to encourage closer co-operation and regional working between local authorities in Wales.

An interim CJC is being set up for the south east of Wales while legal and financial issues are resolved.

The current Cardiff Capital Region functions will then eventually move into the new CJC, according to a Torfaen council report.

The South East Wales Committee will include the leaders of the 10 councils involved – which includes the five Gwent councils – and it will be based on the set-up of the current Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

Torfaen councillors agreed to the proposed arrangements for setting up the interim CJC at a full council meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr Huw Bevan asked how the new corporate joint committee would function alongside the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

Council leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt, said the interim arrangement was a way of meeting legal requirements without setting up two competing organisations.

“The intention is to lift and shift and to avoid having two bodies,” he said.

“Certainly in the short-term there is an agreement these are not going to be two competing bodies.

“In the longer-term they will merge into one. I think the understanding is they will be co-chaired.”

Cllr Nick Jones questioned how councillors would scrutinise the new committee, and how the move towards regional governance would work.

“Are we seeing the local authorities becoming the new community councils of the future?” he said.

“How far will powers be transferred over time?”

However Rachel Jowitt, Torfaen council’s chief officer for neighbourhoods, planning and public protection, said functions would not be taken away from councils, and that the committees provided an additional level of regional working.

Cllr Hunt said scrutiny functions would be developed as the committee takes shape, and added that councils would retain control over the functions of the joint committee.

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