ARGUS COMMENT: Tough calls for Gwent councils
3:03pm Friday 1st February 2013 in News
COUNCILS across Gwent have to think the unthinkable and do the unpalatable as the real scale of public sector cuts becomes clear.
While we have been critical of some money-saving schemes – such as the loss of free parking in Newport council’s city centre car parks – we do not envy the decisions all local authorities have to make.
And the cuts are not exclusive to the forthcoming financial year. In many cases, they will go on for a number of years.
The days of saving money by trimming around the edges of council services are gone.
Now councils have to think radically about the services they provide. Some, like social care and education, are legal obligations and it is quite right they should be protected.
But many other services are simply not going to be provided by councils in the future.
Tough questions have to be asked. Is it right, for instance, that council tax is used to run leisure centres, theatres and art galleries in this day and age?
We do not have the answer but we do know the days of local councils providing a multitude of services beyond their statutory obligations are almost certainly at an end.
Responsibility for everything else, therefore, is likely to be devolved increasingly to the private and third sectors.
But whether they are willing to take up the reins remains to be seen.