WREXHAM Council is expected to face cuts of up to £43 million in its budget, £9m more than originally anticipated.
And council leader Neil Rogers told colleagues yesterday the council “may no longer be able to deliver the services associated with a local authority”.
“The impacts will be felt across the county borough by residents, visitors, businesses and commuters,” he added.
Cllr Alun Jenkins told executive board members he believed the cutbacks to the local authority’s budget would total £43m over the next five years – the initial forecast was £34m.
The Welsh Government will announce the council’s budget for 2014-15 on October 16, which deputy council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard believes may be “three times worse” than the £4m-£5m initially feared.
Cllr Pritchard added that the council was an employer to 6,000 staff and discussions had to take place with employees and trade unions before they were able to make public the extent of the deficit.
He told colleagues: “We can only spend what we are given by Westminster.
“None of us came into politics to make huge cuts to public services. We came into it to improve people’s lives but this is the situation we are faced with.”
Members voted in favour of a report labelled ‘Reshaping services to meet the financial challenges’ which pinpoints where the local authority will be seeking to make savings over the period.
As previously reported in the Leader, planned cuts include reducing cultural services by 75 per cent over the next two years and 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 in 2014-15.
Libraries and street lighting also face cuts of up to 50 per cent.
Cllr Jenkins said: “I understand we are going to be facing up to a £43m deficit, which will result in a 25 per cent reduction in our budget.
“These cutbacks are hurtful to the people of Wrexham. I have been involved in local council for 40 years and all our good work is now being undone.”
Wrexham Council hopes members of the public will involve themselves in a debate about major changes as the budget cuts and demands for services come into the public sphere.
Cllr Rogers said: “We are changing and that means the public’s expectations of what we can deliver has to change.
“We are no longer able to deliver the services that you would associate with a local authority. There is no magic wand to conjure up money.
“The move towards a leaner council comes on the back of central government cuts and its impact will be felt across the county borough.”
Cllr Malcolm King, who compiled the report, said: “I don’t accept a 25 per cent reduction in funding means we have to lose 25 per cent of our services.
“There is a huge mountain we have to climb but we will ensure we are prioritising those who are most vulnerable as we must keep in mind we are the community leaders for Wrexham."