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Wrexham Council cash cutbacks bombshell

Published date: 03 July 2014 |
Published by: Charlie Croasdale
Read more articles by Charlie Croasdale


 

COUNCIL leaders in Wrexham are facing up to further ‘horrendous’ cuts to their budget, which could top £60 million.

The authority revealed they have been informed by the Welsh Government to “prepare for the worst”, after being told their 2015-16 budget – originally expected to include cuts of £8.2 million - is now likely to contain £5 million more cost saving measures, meaning a “disastrous” figure of £13 million of cuts next financial year.

Official Welsh Government settlement figures are not expected until October, but council money bosses broke rank, arguing “can you imagine the reaction if we had kept this quiet until the autumn announcement?”.

Cllr Malcolm King, lead member for finance at the council, said the “bombshell” of now having to make an estimated £60 million of cuts between 2013 and 2018 – a third higher than previously feared – would have “huge consequences” for the county.

Cllr King said: “It’s going to be a harsh reality – the real bombshell here is we are now facing cuts of £45 million over the first three years. 

“I’d be surprised if the figure for the five-year period is not at least £60 million now. When you take out our ring-fenced services, such as education, which we can’t touch – we had about £90 million to work with at the start of this process. 

“If you take £60 million from that after five years, we’ll have around 30 per cent of our budget left.

“These are disastrous figures for local government in Wales and I think the system needs to be looked at. The consequences for the people of Wrexham will be huge.”

Libraries, community centres, public toilets and play areas have all been transferred over to community councils under this year’s cuts and Plas Madoc Leisure Centre was shut in order to save £500,000 annually.

But Cllr King said current projections for future years were “hopelessly optimistic”.

“We have been working on cutbacks based on the figure of a 1.5 per cent reduction for next year’s budget from the Welsh Government, but we have now been told that could be as high as 4.5 per cent,” he said. 

“We will prepare for the worst but hope for the best, but the figure of 1.5 per cent is hopelessly optimistic.

“As a result we are now planning cuts of at least £13 million for 2015-16, as opposed to £8.2 million we were originally forecasting. 

“It is incredibly frustrating as we felt we were on track to meet the £8.2 million of cuts with this month’s budget announcement. We will put forward more proposals for the consultation than we need to cut, in order for people to have their say. 

“I must stress all these cutbacks are only proposals at this stage – but to find an extra £5 million now on top of what we’ve had to find already, it’s pretty horrendous.”

Among unpopular mooted cuts for next year is further reductions from spending on grass cutting and a reduction in short-term break facilities to save £444,000.

The Welsh Government will inform local authorities across Wales what their budgets will be for 2015-16 in October, with exact figures expected to be available in November.

Wrexham Council leader, Cllr Neil Rogers, defended the authority’s decision to tell the public about the anticipated cuts. 

He said: “These are testing times for local government and there’s no getting away from the fact these cuts are horrendous.  “We’ve tried to be as honest as possible at this early stage with the public – can you imagine the reaction if we had kept this quiet until the autumn announcement?

“There are difficult times ahead and huge demand is being placed on local authorities.”

Neighbouring council, Flintshire, have cut senior management positions by almost half to save £2.5 million.

Cllr Arfon Jones, who represents Gwersyllt West, said Wrexham Council should have considered the option of cutting executive pay when the process began.

“I’ve argued since the cuts began that we should be looking at the infrastructure of the council, before cutting frontline services,” he said.

“Apart from not replacing John Bradbury, of the environment department, when he retired, there has been no restructuring.

“We have a chief executive, three strategic directors and eight council officers, all earning more than £70,000 per year.

“A restructuring would save tens of thousands of pounds per year. 

“I appreciate we have to cut some public services, but the damage could be limited.”

ää COMMENT – page 13

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  1. Posted by: sandrobe2001 at 11:06 on 03 July 2014 Report

    There should be another tier of local Government, which over-sees the spending of money, therefore the spending cuts now forecast by Wrexham Council would not be so severe. My own opinion would be that 'they're not fit to run a raffle'. The Council Officers will cut services 'to the bone' while paying themselves, handsome, if not obscene amounts per year.

  2. Posted by: Mr.Gobbi at 15:37 on 03 July 2014 Report

    What justification can there be to maintain the salaries of the most senior officers at the level they are now at when this council is having to make budget cuts in all areas. They have sold off everything including the kitchen sink so what next a collection plate in the Guildhall for extra income/employ more consultants to come up with grand ideas. On reflection the reorg in 1996 should never have taken place wonder what the one for 2017/2018 has in store for us council tax payers.

  3. Posted by: 1massey at 17:16 on 03 July 2014 Report

    just shows the mess wrexham council are in,and whats left to come out in the open from wcbc yet ?some of the big wigs and officers need to go,the money pot dont last for ever mr guildhall,been to free with it in years gone bye,time for a good sort out in wcbc,just wot are we paying tax and council tax for ?

  4. Posted by: burman500 at 17:42 on 03 July 2014 Report

    Well,well,well, what a surprise !! By the time 2015/16 is over there won't be any services left that WCBC can cut . We all know what is happening on the money side and as been said its about time the big wigs took a cut in wages, we are all struggling whilst they wallow in excessive salaries most of us would like to dream about. WCBC get some guts and tell the Welsh Government to what to do. Time we tell the politicians say in a demo what Wrexham people feel about the cuts.

  5. Posted by: a cahill at 21:14 on 03 July 2014 Report

    Malcolm King the anti poverty Tsar for Wrexham....warns of massive cuts that will drive more people into Poverty....ironic isn't it that its the Labour Welsh Govt that are imposing these cuts on the Labour led Wrexham Council...the Tories must be laughing their socks off as Westminster forces the Labour Party to act like Thatcherites

  6. Posted by: Y Ffin at 00:28 on 04 July 2014 Report

    Seems a bit ridiculous that education is excluded from the budget cuts as that means more cuts for every other service. It wouldnt be so bad if our schools were a role model for other services, except that when judged either locally, nationally or internationally our schools are failing our young people, despite hoovering up increasing amounts of cash.

  7. Posted by: Truth hurts at 10:52 on 04 July 2014 Report

    Let's ask Cllr King how much in wages and expenses does he take out of the Wrexham pot and how much does he put back in? I can answer the second part, it's nothing. He doesn't live in the county, so his hypocrisy is astonishing!

  8. Posted by: sandrobe2001 at 11:21 on 04 July 2014 Report

    I forgot to mention in my first comment, that there are faults with the fabric of the flat I live in, with my daughter, in that the bathroom suite and kitchen units have been promised some 3-4 years ago, but we're still waiting, we have been told that a thorough upgrade would entail us moving away, never to return BUT THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO MOVE US TO and the rent on our flat is currently over £100 per week.

  9. Posted by: RolandCleth at 16:31 on 04 July 2014 Report

    Obviously, cuts of 1.5% were too good to be true. The South Wales Assembly Government were inevitably going to take more money from us to ensure services in the Valleys could be maintained.

  10. Posted by: logic at 22:44 on 04 July 2014 Report

    WELL HERE IT COMES CUTS CUTS CUTS AND MORE CUTS , BUT THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE TO GET OUR MONEY SOME HOW TO SUBSIDISE THE BUS SERVICE TO THE NEW PRISON £30K OR IS IT £300K A YEAR. CAN THE COUNCIL PLEASE TELL US ? THIS IS THE COUNCIL THAT APPLIED TO HAVE MONEY PIT OF A PRISON IN WREXHAM THEN SAY DONT ASSOCIATE WREXHAM TOWN WITH THE PRISON BUT WILL CALL THE NEW GAS POWER STATION ON THE OLD FIBERGLASS SITE WREXHAM ENERGY CENTRE, THAT THE TYPT OF PEOPLE ARE RUNNING OUR TOWN DOWN

  11. Posted by: logic at 22:45 on 04 July 2014 Report

    WELL HERE IT COMES CUTS CUTS CUTS AND MORE CUTS , BUT THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE TO GET OUR MONEY SOME HOW TO SUBSIDISE THE BUS SERVICE TO THE NEW PRISON £30K OR IS IT £300K A YEAR. CAN THE COUNCIL PLEASE TELL US ? THIS IS THE COUNCIL THAT APPLIED TO HAVE MONEY PIT OF A PRISON IN WREXHAM THEN SAY DONT ASSOCIATE WREXHAM TOWN WITH THE PRISON BUT WILL CALL THE NEW GAS POWER STATION ON THE OLD FIBERGLASS SITE WREXHAM ENERGY CENTRE, THAT THE TYPT OF PEOPLE ARE RUNNING OUR TOWN DOWN

  12. Posted by: logic at 23:01 on 04 July 2014 Report

    AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE HOW MANY JOBS DO YOU KNOW THAT 4 PEOPLE APPLY FOR A JOB ONE OF THEM GET THAT JOB AND THE OTHER THREE GET PAID THE SOME AS THE ONE THAT GOT THE JOB, WELL I THINK ITS TIME TO GET RID OF ALL THE COUNCILERS AND THE TOP DONKEYS IN THE COUNCIL AND HAVE A NINE PERSON COMMITTEE IN WREXHAM WE DONT NEED ALL THESE PARASITES, THEY WILL BE SELLING GROVEPARK SCHOOL AND THE NINE ACRE FEILD THEY WILL USE THE 12 YEAR RULE

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