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All non-essential services under threat

Created on 09/01/2019 @ 10:20
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A stark warning has been delivered by Powys County Council as it revealed plans to slash around £9.1 million from its annual budget next year.

Despite the much publicised Powys County Council (PCC) council tax precept rise expected to be as high as 12%, local residents could also be left with reduced services with libraries, street lighting and roads facing severe pressure.

PCC has received the poorest funding settlement in Wales for nine out of the past 10 years, meaning that even the hefty council tax increase will not prevent further spending cuts and the loss of local services.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Aled Davies said: “The reality facing the council is that not even a significant increase in the rate of council tax will prevent a number of valued services including libraries, roads and street lighting facing reductions.

“While no decisions have yet been made, our ability to reduce spending is severely restricted by the proportion of our budget that is needed to support statutory services such as education and social care. These services account for more than 70 per cent of our spending and although they are not exempt from cuts it is inevitable that non-statutory areas will come under the greatest pressure.

“We will have to ask ourselves can we afford the branch libraries we operate, the number of offices and buildings we fund. Will we have to reduce the length of roads we repair, the number of street lights we power and the number of open spaces we maintain.

“As a council we are facing some of the most challenging decisions of our political lives, decisions that I am sure will be unpopular. But, we have to set a balanced budget and the continued reduction in our external funding means we have little choice.

“We have a difficult task ahead of us balancing the level of council tax against the level of service provision. It will not be easy and we hope that residents understand our choices and accept our decision,” he added.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service claims that the cuts would make up more than £9 million of the £14 million funding gap for this year. Another £20 million in savings will be needed over the next financial three years.

The details show that part of the £9.1million cuts package include

·      A review will be held into street lighting with a hope that town and community councils could pay for local lighting needs, saving £150,000

·      Car Parking Policy Review on increasing charges which could save £100,000

·      Introducing Car Parking charges for Blue Badge users could save £50,000.

·      The Arts and Culture Service will be reviewed, and pull out of arts and cultural arrangement, getting rid of the service is an option – £139,000

·      The legal department hope through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to make £70,000.

Help to encourage tourism in Powys will be reduced

·      The Tourist Development Marketing Budget will be halved saving £58,000. and Tourism Development Fund deleted saving £25,000.

·      The savings in closing Welshpool’s Neuadd Maldwyn is £165,000.

In our previous report on the possible 12% PCC precept rise, readers reacted with anger, even threatening yellow-vest style protests that forced the French Government into a recent u-turn.

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