Blaenau Gwent leader: We're not going bust
11:35am Tuesday 15th October 2013 in News
THE leader of a Gwent Valleys council has denied that his authority is at risk of going bust.
Last week Cardiff council’s Cllr Russell Goodway said two councils were at risk of going bust in the wake of budget cuts – sparking press speculation that one of the authorities could be Blaenau Gwent.
But yesterday that authority’s leader, Hedley McCarthy, hit back, saying people were putting “two and two together and coming up with five”.
The Argus asked Cllr McCarthy, the leader of the council’s ruling Labour group, if there was any risk of the council going under.
“No,” he said. “We took a decision on August 2 that has put us on a sound footing.”
Cllr McCarthy said he had asked Cardiff council leader Cllr Heather Joyce on Monday morning how “on earth would Cllr Goodway have any idea about other local authorities’ budgets” and why there was speculation on the two authorities.
“She said she had no idea,” he said.
Cllr McCarthy added that he “wouldn’t begin to speculate on the position in other local authorities”.
He said he and Cllr Goodway were “long-standing colleagues” but that he is “more reluctant to speculate on local government finance and how it affects other authorities.”
On August 2 Blaenau Gwent Council made £2 million in cuts to plug a hole in this year’s budget. Staffing took a hit, while Nantyglo sports centre, council-run toilets and two civic amenity sites were closed.
Last week Cardiff council cabinet member for finance Cllr Goodway told the BBC that there was talk of “two councils going bust next year”.
He said: “I think some councils will run out of money.”
Press speculation later suggested that one of the councils Cllr Goodway meant was Blaenau Gwent.
Cllr Goodway’s comments came in the wake of the Welsh Government draft budget announced last Tuesday, which is likely to leave councils facing a cut of more than £170 million to their finances in 2014/15.
Yesterday the Cardiff councillor said: “My remarks were made following discussions within Welsh Local Government Association regarding the bleak financial outlook facing all local councils in Wales, and I gave no indication or named any local authorities.”
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