Wrexham councillors fear cutbacks for 'eight to 10 years'


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

POLITICIANS who met to consider latest suggestions for council cuts were told there is “no light at the end of the tunnel”.  

Leading Wrexham councillors were debating more than £4 million of identified savings for the year 2015-16.

Deputy leader Cllr Mark Pritchard told executive board colleagues recent years had been a “nightmare” for the council.

He added: “The face of this authority is changing. The council will never be the same again without a shadow of a doubt. We are taking £8 million on average a year out of our budget.

“There will be a reduction in staff, there will be loss of jobs and there will be services we can no longer deliver in this authority.

“There is no sign of it stopping.

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel yet.”

According to the lead member for policy, finance, performance and governance, Cllr Malcolm King, it could take up to 10 years before the council is back to normal.

“All the indicators are it won’t stop at five years,” he told yesterday’s meeting. “It will be more like another eight or 10 years before things get back to a position we have been used to over the last 20 or 30 years.

“I am afraid that is the position we are in. If it was only £45 million in these five years, I have to say I think that would be extremely good news.”

He added proposed cuts had been detailed earlier than last year to allow for a longer consultation period. allowing members of the public to voice their opinions.

Asked about cuts to the mayoral office, Cllr King said the report discussed yesterday was the “first of several” on the 2015-16 budget and added any potential reductions in that department would be detailed in a future report.

Council leader Neil Rogers described the challenge faced by the local authority as “severe”.

Executive board members voted to approve the cuts identified, including further savings on the closure of Bersham Heritage Centre to prune £58,000, the removal of the school library service and a further cut of £68,000 from the school music service across the county.

Also included in the latest cutbacks is the proposal to put domiciliary care at Plas Yn Rhos care home out to tender, as well as retendering all domiciliary care contracts which currently expire in March 2015. It is hoped these two actions will save the council £650,000.

But a discussion on a further cut of £200,000 to the grounds maintenance budget, covering grass cutting across the county, was deferred until a later meeting.

On the subject of the removal of the school library service, lead member for children’s services and education, Cllr Michael Williams, said schools would be able to “buy back” the service if they wanted.

In total, local authority managers have stated they are working towards a minimum saving of £8.2m for the 2015-16 financial year, as they look to make cutbacks of £45m over the next five years.

A number of staff reviews and restructuring of departments will take place with lifelong learning, corporate and customer services and adult social care set to be affected.

The approved cuts will be discussed at an all-member workshop in June before a further report is presented to the executive board.

See full story in the Leader

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