Fears for vital services as council faces more cuts
BRIDGEND councillors have condemned “UK Government budget cuts” which will see the authority lose more than £75m.
The authority’s chief executive Darren Mepham will write to Chancellor Philip Hammond and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to request “fairer funding for Bridgend council and its residents”.
It comes after a majority of councillors voted in favour of a motion put forward by Labour member David White.
It states that cuts of £40m to the budget over the last five years and a further predicted cut of £35.3m over the next four years, due to the reduction in the UK Government’s block grant to the Welsh Government, “could put enormous pressures on our services and may mean we are unable to fulfil our statutory duties”.
On Tuesday – ahead of Welsh councils learning how much cash they will get from the Welsh Government next year – the Welsh Local Government Association said authorities could not go on protecting spending on education and social care in the face of continuing UK Government cuts.
Following the vote, Coun White said he hoped the motion would highlight the problems facing the council and “start a public debate”.
The council’s current budget contains £5.8m of cuts, which includes the controversial decision to ask all schools to shave 1% off their spending.
Coun White said: “There will be more tough decisions that need to be made and whether you are independent, Labour, Conservative or whatever party, you probably didn’t come into the council to make cuts. For me this is all about making people aware of what’s going to happen in the future.
“We will do the best we can. Hopefully we can meet our statutory obligations, but if these cuts continue and continue it’s going to have a dramatic effect on the amount of people we employ.”
He added that continuing austerity meant that for many residents their “reality is going to be food banks and cold winter nights”.
Out of the 44 councillors who voted, 33 voted for the motion, four abstained and seven voted against. They included members of the Conservative group and the group’s acting leader Tom Giffard.