LIBRARIES, leisure centres and museums may have to be closed and street lights switched off after midnight across Wales, Wrexham councillors are being told.
Earlier this week the leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Neil Rogers, warned the cuts faced by the authority could be worse than the estimated £34m over five years when the Welsh Government announces its provisional local government settlement on October 16.
And a report which will go before the council’s executive board on Tuesday entitled ‘Reshaping Services to Meet the Financial Challenges’ outlines the possible cuts which could be faced.
A paper released in July 2013 by the Welsh Local Government Association sets out the challenges facing an average council in Wales.
With a potential revenue settlement scenario similar to that experienced in England the report warns that authorities may have to cut expenditure on cultural services by 75 per cent over the next two years, potentially closing art galleries and museums.
The closure of all sports and leisure facilities is highlighted unless they can be transferred to third sector or operated commercially (without subsidy) by mutual or arms-length organisations as well as a 25 per cent reduction in spend on planning in2014-15.
And it mentions a libraries expenditure cut of 50 per cent over a two-year period, which would keep open half of facilities to act as hubs for welfare reform changes.
Regarding street lighting, it warns authorities may have to switch off up to 50 per cent of street lights from midnight to 5am in 2014-15 and all from 2015-16.
Other possible cuts include reducing highways spend by a quarter, cutting spend on economic development by a half, dropping general administration and back office budgets by a quarter and cutting third sector funding in half in 2015-16.
In the report by councillor Malcolm King, lead member for policy, finance, performance and governance, he says: “These are only examples for an average Welsh Council but they highlight the extent of cuts that may need to be made.”
Cllr Rogers said: “It’s well documented that the authority has to make significant savings over the next few years.
“The financial challenges faced by us and other local authorities in Wales are unprecedented and we are exploring every aspect of the council to ensure we face these challenges whilst also protecting services for the most vulnerable.
“It’s no exaggeration when I say there will be some tough and unpalatable decisions ahead.
“As an organisation Wrexham Council currently estimates it will have a funding shortfall of at least £34m over the next five years.
“The actual amount will not be known until around October 16 when the Welsh Government announces the provisional local Government settlement 2014/15.
“It is important to remember that the figures in Tuesday’s executive board report are just an example of some of the tough decisions that members will have to make.
“No decisions have yet been made and we will have a clearer picture following the announcement on October 16.”