Council leader says ‘massive’ cuts on way

1:29pm Thursday 5th June 2014

FURTHER spending cuts are set to hammer Monmouthshire council’s public services, its leader told a meeting yesterday.

Councillor Peter Fox said he had met the Welsh Government’s minister for local government and government business, Lesley Griffiths, and was told to expect greater funding cuts beyond what the authority had originally been anticipating over the next few years.

He said: “What is really, really worrying for leaders is that we can expect absolutely massive cuts above what we’ve been expecting.

“It’s very clear things are going to get a whole lot worse – and it was a poor situation before.”

The council already had to make up a spending gap of £9 million in the 2014/15 budget.

At the meeting figures were presented which showed the authority had underspent in the last financial year by £877,000 – but Cllr Fox said this was a necessary buffer for the further cuts in the coming years.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Phil Hobson, said authorities would be decimated by further savings and that the authority was looking to keep frontline services running as much as possible.

He said: “Monmouthshire will be the last one standing – because this is decimation.

“We’re paying debts off - that means more money for frontline services.”

Before the meeting, the leader of the opposition Labour group Cllr Dimitri Batrouni had attacked the underspend.

“It is scandalous the Tories have nearly £900,000 leftover after last year’s budget,” he said. “The Labour group called for no cuts to special educational and additional learning needs children, no charges for over 60s swimming, and no cuts to our schools. What we have seen are cuts to each and every one of them.”

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