Monmouthshire facing 'unprecedented times' of cuts to services

Monmouthshire facing 'unprecedented times' of cuts to services

CUTS: Monmouthshire councillors are looking to reduce the choice pupils have over school meals and increase parking charges

CHOICES: Council leader Peter Fox

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

CHARGING for green waste collection, increasing council car-park fees, reducing choice for children’s school meals but putting their prices up, and getting rid of leisure centre caretakers are some of the ways Monmouthshire council could plug a £4.3m funding gap.

The authority is also looking at department mergers and a review of staffing structures - but it is also proposing to give each councillor an iPad or a Google Nexus tablet computer at the same time.

A meeting yesterday heard the council was facing “unprecedented times” in terms of its financial challenges and the taxpayer will foot the bill for some services.

Longer term, the council is facing a funding gap of £16.5m for 2016/17, so a series of measures have been drawn up to claw back the deficit.

Cabinet member for finance and performance improvement, Cllr Phil Murphy, said charging for the collection of green waste, saving £420,000, could be the most “controversial” of these.

“We are looking at the possibility of charging for green waste removal, garden waste not food. The system could be wheelie-bin-based or bag-based,” he said.

Council leader Cllr Peter Fox said at the present time council tax would not increase, but warned of future rises.

“We are trying to ease the pressure on people by not putting council tax up now but the reality is it’s going to as that’s not sustainable,” he said.

Longer term, the council is facing a funding gap of £16.5m for 2016/17.

Car-park charges and fines may increase by 10 per cent, saving £100,000. They have not been upped since 2007.

“It’s unfortunate to say we are going to have an increase to block the black hole,” said cabinet member for county operations, Cllr Bryan Jones.

The council has suggested £140,000 could be saved by stopping caretakers opening and closing leisure centres.

The council is planning cutting menu choices for school meals, but putting the price of a meal up by 5p, to save £30,000.

Investing in fitness equipment in leisure centres was mooted as a way to make £100,000 in 2013/14 if custom increases.

Highways, waste and the street-scene departments are expected to merge into one, saving £120,000 , while a review of staffing is due to save £130,000.

The plans could also see an end of printing of agendas for meetings, saving £10,000 - but also purchasing tablets for councillors - and charging for the pest control service, saving £45,000.

Another proposal is to withdraw the sexton service at Chepstow and Llanfoist cemeteries, replacing it with a mobile service, saving £30,000.

Monmouthshire council gets less funding per head from the Welsh Government than any other in Wales and if it received the average, it would have £25.2 million extra to spend, Cllr Murphy said.

“This isn’t a pretty tale to tell. Capital budgets are going to come under severe strain as time goes on,” he added.

Comments (5)

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12:23pm Thu 10 Jan 13

Markbusa says...

How about councillors buying their own iPad or a Google Nexus tablet ?
How about councillors buying their own iPad or a Google Nexus tablet ? Markbusa
  • Score: 0

2:32pm Thu 10 Jan 13

onlylocalhere says...

Why don't the councillors lead with a 20% pay cut? So that's 20% of £828955.83 - £165791.16. Or maybe remove Civic salaries (call that £35k) and make a reduction in the co-opted member payment? Care allowance to mirror Child benefit, so that it goes for any who earn over 60k?
Maybe a private contribution from business that benefit from Grass Routes to Schools (£214k last year)?

Maybe an explanation of what an Elections Reserve is or Agile Working Transition?
Why don't the councillors lead with a 20% pay cut? So that's 20% of £828955.83 - £165791.16. Or maybe remove Civic salaries (call that £35k) and make a reduction in the co-opted member payment? Care allowance to mirror Child benefit, so that it goes for any who earn over 60k? Maybe a private contribution from business that benefit from Grass Routes to Schools (£214k last year)? Maybe an explanation of what an Elections Reserve is or Agile Working Transition? onlylocalhere
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Thu 10 Jan 13

Magor says...

Why dont they stop putting so much salt on the roads.I drive to Bristol and Newport and there is none,yet a bit of frost and its all over the place near me.
Why dont they stop putting so much salt on the roads.I drive to Bristol and Newport and there is none,yet a bit of frost and its all over the place near me. Magor
  • Score: 0

7:51pm Thu 10 Jan 13

Bob445 says...

I thought being a councillor was about serving your area as a good citizen and getting expenses for your travel. Now they seem to be paid like a proper job and our local one is never anywhere to be seen. If he has surgerys he doesn't advertise.

Green Waste charge what about recycling targets?? It'll just be dumped. Reduce and cut back big trees especially on main roads to reduce autumn leaves. many fall in gardens that don't own the trees why should they pay for disposal.
I thought being a councillor was about serving your area as a good citizen and getting expenses for your travel. Now they seem to be paid like a proper job and our local one is never anywhere to be seen. If he has surgerys he doesn't advertise. Green Waste charge what about recycling targets?? It'll just be dumped. Reduce and cut back big trees especially on main roads to reduce autumn leaves. many fall in gardens that don't own the trees why should they pay for disposal. Bob445
  • Score: 0

11:55pm Thu 10 Jan 13

brainfreeze says...

Charging for green waste? No thanks, i'll just stick it in general waste. I know we get very little for our Council tax but I at least though refuse collection was one of them!!

How about getting rid of all those non-jobs for a start?

"Communications officer"
"Tree officer" (what's that? it's a tree. thanks for clearing that up)
"Democratic services officer" Surely the Ipad's will make them redundant?
"Policy officer"
"Transition officer"
etc etc.

Instead of increasing parking charges, how about boosting local trade by scrapping them altogether? How about learning from the disaster that is Newport city centre, decimated by traffic restrictions, high parking charges & an influx of supermarkets.

How about not spending millions in legal fees for a cattle market nobody wants just so the Council gets a nice backhander from the highest bidder.
Charging for green waste? No thanks, i'll just stick it in general waste. I know we get very little for our Council tax but I at least though refuse collection was one of them!! How about getting rid of all those non-jobs for a start? "Communications officer" "Tree officer" (what's that? it's a tree. thanks for clearing that up) "Democratic services officer" Surely the Ipad's will make them redundant? "Policy officer" "Transition officer" etc etc. Instead of increasing parking charges, how about boosting local trade by scrapping them altogether? How about learning from the disaster that is Newport city centre, decimated by traffic restrictions, high parking charges & an influx of supermarkets. How about not spending millions in legal fees for a cattle market nobody wants just so the Council gets a nice backhander from the highest bidder. brainfreeze
  • Score: 0

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