THREE advisers appointed by a Welsh Government minister to help a troubled Gwent council are to stay on at the authority.
Last November the Welsh Government appointed five advisers to Blaenau Gwent to help with the council’s financial problems until January, but some will now stay on through to March.
Lesley Griffiths, Labour local government minister, says Blaenau Gwent council is making progress and doesn’t need to dip into the reserves as much as it had expected it to balance the budget.
But some of the changes are a work in progress, and Ms Griffiths has decided that the authority needs continued assistance.
Ms Griffiths’ original decision to appoint advisers came after the Wales Audit Office alleged that the council hadn’t done enough to address the difficult financial situation it was predicted it would be in.
However yesterday the minister said she was pleased to report “much progress has been made” and that the council did not now need all of the reserves it one thought.
“There are also strong plans in place for delivering a significant savings target of around £10 million in 2014/15,” she said.
John Maitland Evans, Derek Davies and Carl Walters will continue to help Blaenau Gwent until March 31, with limited monitoring to take place in July and October. Councillor Hedley McCarthy, Labour leader of Blaenau Gwent council, said he was pleased with the authority’s progress.
“There is still much work to do but with continued support from Welsh Government and the robust plans the council has developed we are well placed to meet our objectives and deliver improvements for the benefits of our local community,” he said.
Alun Davies, Labour AM for Blaenau Gwent, welcomed the news, saying it had been a difficult time for everyone.
“It has not been beaten and it has made significant progress in just a few months,” he said.