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Opposition groups slam ‘out of touch’ Powys County Council after budget of £12m cuts thrown out

Powys County Council’s cabinet has been slammed by opposition groups after a proposed budget was rejected, with the authority now entering crisis talks.

Group leaders have re-entered discussions over the budget, which currently faces a £12m funding shortfall, after plans for cuts and a 9.5% council tax increase were thrown out late last week.

Leader of the Lib Dem-Green groups, James Gibson-Watt, was highly critical of the Independent-Tory coalition which had “failed to turn things around.”

He called for other parties to join the authority’s cabinet – and the leader the Plaid Cymru group Elwyn Vaughan echoed his statement, calling for a “rainbow alliance” between the groups.

Powys County Council backed a 9.5% council tax hike and passed £12m in cuts earlier this month, stressing that frontline services had been protected by the budget; and that the council had the “unenviable position” of holding the poorest settlement in Wales for nine of the last 10 years.

But the savings including cuts to staff, libraries, blue badge parking and leisure centres were criticised in a tumultuous seven-hour meeting where the budget was rejected by a one-vote majority.

Following the decision, Matthew Dorrance, who leads the council’s Labour Group, claimed the cabinet was “out of touch with its citizens and our communities.”

Gibson-Watt said the budget was “only a symptom of the problems.”

“We have given the leadership 18 months and they have failed to turn Powys around,” he added.

“There are key departments where hard and politically unpopular decisions have been kicked into the long grass.

“We are prepared to play our role in creating a rainbow administration that will work for the greater good of Powys and take the hard decisions that are long overdue.”

Aled Davies, council leader, said the authority would continue to try and set a balanced budget, stating “this is critical - not to do so will put service delivery at high risk.”


Image credit - Jaggery


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