Newport cuts ‘reluctantly accepted’ by group
1:44pm Tuesday 17th December 2013 in News
AN INDEPENDENT commission set up to challenge the fairness of Newport City Council has reluctantly accepted proposed budget cuts, a report revealed yesterday.
The report evaluates the fairness of budget proposals for 2013/14.
The 14-person group, chaired by Professor Steve Smith of the University of South Wales, was established by the council in September 2012, to monitor the fairness of key decisions.
While most cuts were “reluctantly accepted”, others were highlighted as posing potential risk to fairness.
Cuts in public art maintenance and the Gwent Music Support Service were “very reluctantly accepted”.
However, the report had “substantial reservations” about the impact on the cultural lives of service-users.
The report suggested the council set-up or encourage local volunteer groups to help in the maintenance of public art.
Funding cuts to Newport Unlimited were highlighted as a potential risk to fairness, given that redistribution of wealth is based on the continued regeneration of the city.
The report questioned whether the council had the appropriate resources or skills to deliver these services in-house.
The report recommends the council outlines how it will use fairness guidelines for future policy and monitor areas of concern.
A council spokeswoman said council leader Bob Bright will meet with Prof Smith this week to look at the report in more detail before the council takes time to consider the report and respond.
At a meeting of the council’s joint scrutiny committee last night, councillors discussed the 2014/15 budget, which will be set next year, and the city’s medium-term financial plan.
The council has predicted the city’s total deficit will reach £24 million over 2014-18 but the council has announced it will spend £1.044 million over two years to implement the living wage of £7.45 per hour for its workers.
Cllr Chris Evans said he “passionately supported” that proposal
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