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Struggling council could close up to 30 schools and raise taxes as ‘unpopular decisions’ must be made

Anglesey council is considering closing almost 30 schools and a major increase in council taxes as it tries to balance the books.

The council is meeting this morning to discuss its options, which include closing schools with fewer than 120 pupils and significantly raising council tax.

Raising council tax by more than 5% would breach the Welsh Government’s informal cap, but Anglesey County Council has warned that “difficult and unpopular decisions” will need to be made.

The authority overspent by £1.74m of its total £130m budget in 2017-18, and with another 1% cut expected next year, Anglesey faces a budget shortfall of more than £9m over the next three years.

Back in June, councillors unanimously rejected plans that would have merged Anglesey County Council and Gwynedd Council.

The Welsh Government’s consultative green paper advocated reorganisation and suggested merging the country’s 22 existing councils to just 10. But first minister of Wales Carwyn Jones was told to “stick his green paper in the bin where it belongs” as councillors argued that the merger would have an “extremely detrimental effect” on service provision and local democracy.

As well as small schools facing the possibility of having to merge, leisure centres and arts centre Oriel Ynys Mon could also be handed over to external operators.

Anglesey’s children’s services alone are forecasted to finish the year £1.28m over budget, which will also be discussed in the executive meeting this Monday morning.

Councils across the UK are struggling with budget deficits, with the National Audit Office warning that up to 15 English councils could run out of money soon.

Perhaps the most financially broken one, Northamptonshire County Council recently voted in favour of unitary proposals as it tries to make savings against a £70m budget deficit.


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Image credit -  David Jones/PA Archive/PA Images


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