Council calls on views for millions of pounds of cuts


Robert Doman

FLINTSHIRE Council wants people’s views on how to manage an unprecedented £18million in potential cuts.
Last month the Leader revealed how a projected £12m figure could rise by up to 50 per cent if Welsh Government funding is slashed as predicted, placing already threatened public services at even greater risk.
The £18m figure would be the biggest budget reduction the county has ever had to manage.
Cllr Bernie Attridge admitted it is “inevitable” some services will be lost.
The council is now living up to its promise to consult people over changes after maintaining non-statutory services for the current financial year.
Flintshire Council slashed £2.5m from its wage bill and made £10m of internal efficiencies in order secure frontline services during 2014-15.
Neighbouring Wrexham Council controversially closed its Plas Madoc leisure centre amid much public outcry, but Flintshire Council may now be forced to follow suit as it braces itself for more painful decisions.
Council leader, Cllr Aaron Shotton, said: “A bigger debate is now needed because the public services across Wales are now under considerable budget pressure.
“This is because the cuts imposed by the UK Government are now beginning to bite in Wales; the Welsh Government is being given less money to pay for the important public services it provides.
“These services include local government, education, social care, health, housing, transport and fire and rescue.”
The council’s annual net budget is £254m, with £193m coming from Welsh Government and £61m from council tax collection.
Cllr Shotton previously told the Leader: “The potential impact is unthinkable” while admitting to “serious implications for services and jobs provided by Flintshire Council”.
A questionnaire is being circulated for people to share initial thoughts ahead of more detailed proposals being drafted by the council
Questions involve whether town, community councils and voluntary organisations should be asked to run more services and facilities including community buildings, open spaces and decorating and maintaining local schools.
Another focuses on whether some services should be merged with that of neighbouring councils to reduce costs.
Possible council tax increases are also considered.
The consultation will run until September 12 before a series of further public consultations, planned for late autumn and early winter, will focus on future share options and budget choices.
Cllr Shotton said: “The choices before us will include prioritising some services over others, reducing or even stopping some services, expecting people to travel further for a service, expecting people to pay more where we currently make a charge and introducing new charges for services which are free.”
The running of council housing and the improvement of council houses is separately funded from tenants’ rent and other income.
Tenants are being consulted separately over how best to run the service.
Where does Flintshire Council’s budget go?
Education – £10 million
Adult social services – £48 million
Capital and other financing costs – £37 million
Waste and the environment – £16 million
Children’s social services – £14 million
Highways and transportation – £11million
Leisure, libraries and culture – £9 million
Local democracy and community support – £5 million
Housing services such as homelessness, housing advice – £3 million
Planning and development – £1 million
What do Flintshire Council contribution to services cost?
The average cost of a secondary school £3.3 million
The cost of a medium sized primary school £632,000
School transport – £6.8m (total cost £6.9m)
Youth service – £1.2m (total cost £1.5m)
Average contribution for a residential care home £748,000 (total cost £986,000)
Learning disability day care services – £967,000 (total cost £983,000)
Running disability work opportunity centres – £1.8m (total cost £2m)
Older people day care services – £535,000 (total cost £571,000)
Leisure centres – £2.8m (total cost £8.3m)
Libraries – £2.1m (total cost £2.3m)
Clwyd Theatr Cymru – £1.1m (total cost £5.3m)
Highway maintenance – £6m (total cost £7.5m)
Waste collection services – £5.5m (total cost £9.8m)
Household recycling centres – £2.7m (total cost £2.9m)
Streetlighting costs – £1.2m (total cost £1.3m)
Town centre CCTV – £240,000 (total cost £356,000)
Countryside services – £356,000 (total cost £417,000)
Costs for trading standards service – £751,000 (total cost £774,000)

See full story in the Leader

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