THE county of Flintshire could disappear within five years.

That is the prediction of Flintshire Council’s leader Arnold Woolley who said increasing financial pressures on all councils could see Wales return to the old county system abolished in 1996.

Flintshire is looking to make an additional £8 million of savings in next year’s budget with predictions for future years looking even bleaker.

Cllr Woolley said: “I do believe counties will need to seriously look at the avoidance of duplication and repetition. I am not going to rule out the fact it may be necessary to move in 2016 to the old eight or nine counties in Wales. I would not be surprised if that happened.”

Clwyd County Council and its districts were abolished and replaced by Flintshire, Wrexham County Borough, Denbighshire, and Conwy councils.

Cllr Woolley added: “I agree with the prediction of Carl Sargeant (Labour AM for Alyn and Deeside), the next two years are as good as it is going to be, after that it will only get worse.

“In the next two years we will have equal financial input with rising demand, expectations and rising inflation. After that I think life is going to get much tougher.

“We have to get more joined up and less cumbersome. There is an awful lot of duplication, triplication and waste going on. We have got to slim down.

“Just because it is public money we yield it doesn't give us the right to be careless with it, it imposes a greater duty to be careful with it.”

Any decision on restricting the county system would rest with the Welsh Government.

Cllr Woolley said balancing the budget at a national level was not taken early enough because of “political unpopularities”.

He said: “We can’t go on spending money we don’t have. In years gone by the generosity of finance and the eagerness of politicians to be popular led them into
areas that are not core activities for county councils.

Now with this need to save millions,  every county in the UK has got to look at its core purposes.

“We are battling with financial constraints that are serious.

“We need to take out millions and million of pounds to balance the books in times of greater expectation, greater demand and an aging population.

“Those are the circumstances we have to battle with.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said there were no current plans to reorganise local government.