Flintshire Council warn over service closures if austerity continues

Reporter:

David Humphreys

Closing leisure centres, raising council tax and ending subsidies to Theatr Clwyd still wouldn’t ease Flintshire Council’s budget woes.

The local authority has warned that if Westminster does not “relent on its policy of austerity” public services which “communities rely on” could be closed.

A plea for unity has been issued via a statement for councillors to distribute to gather support for its campaigning position, reading: “As communities of Flintshire we are all in this together.”

Colin Everett, Flintshire Council chief executive, told members of the local authority how they must help build support for the council’s campaigning position in the face of difficult budget decisions.

Flintshire Council faces a budget gap of up to £14million, an increase from an expected £11m after the draft local government settlement indicated a funding decrease of 0.9 per cent.

Mr Everett said: “The time for raising awareness and building support is now – alongside our community events which are running through November.”

A draft community statement has also been issued to the 69 members of Flintshire Council for their use in garnering support.

The statement details how that if the UK Government does not “relent on its policy of austerity” and the Welsh Government has no more money to pass on, we might see the closure of services and facilities which our communities rely on and, until now, we have been able to protect.

It reads: “The financial situation facing Flintshire and all councils is dire.

“We have had to endure ten years of annual budget cuts throughout an era of austerity.

“Next year will be the toughest yet and we are far away from being able to balance council budgets, at this stage of planning the budget, now that we have seen the detail of the Welsh budget planned for 2018/19.”

It adds that Flintshire Council has made almost £80m in savings in the last decade “to balance the books and protect frontline services” but could be “stopped in our tracks” as a high performing council after the budget gap “situation has worsened”.

The statement goes on to say: “To put this in perspective – as an illustration of the scale of the challenge – we could close all of our leisure centres and libraries, end our subsidy to Theatr Clwyd, and raise council tax by five per cent, and we would still have a funding gap to bridge.

“This is because more than three fifths of our budget goes straight into schools and social services to which people are entitled; meaning that the cuts largely fall on all the other services from leisure and culture, to roads and the environment, to environmental health and trading standards.”

The statement outlines how absorbing costs of normal inflation such as pay and prices, high cost inflation such as rising energy and fuel prices for buildings and vehicles, and “the spiralling costs of extra demands for services such as older people and social care in an ageing population” mean large sums have to be found year in, year out.

“These all add up,” it said. “Act now and lobby your MP and AM irrespective of your political views or beliefs.

“As communities of Flintshire we are all in this together.”

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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  • kevinweston20

    23:11, 03 November 2017

    If they have saved£80m they were overspending. Our 70 councillors still collect £1.4m per annum, with few of them passing go! Our councillors,AMs and MPs would attend the opening of an envelope if a camera was present!!

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