IN LOCAL government we are continuously striving to modernise services.

I can genuinely say that our main driver is making positive changes for the people we serve, but there is also no denying that ever-reducing budgets have forced our hand on many occasions. We have had to make very difficult decisions including reducing and even ending some council services, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

At this time of year, as we look forward at the books for 2018/19, attention is again drawn to areas that may see some changes or even be at risk.

There will be rumours and there will campaigns, but I want to assure residents that there is an open and transparent process of decision making – and one that positively encourages the public to get involved.

There are of course a number of proposals being drawn up as part of the budget process, but nothing will be brought in via the back door.

My cabinet will give full consideration from both a service point of view and what we have promised as a party within our manifesto.

We have the difficult challenge of protecting the services our most vulnerable rely on, while trying to invest in our city and continuing to build a better Newport.

There will be a full public consultation, which this year will begin in November, so that all interested parties will have ample opportunity to give their views before any decisions are made in the New Year.

It’s also not just Newport in this boat – all of my counterparts across Wales will be having the same discussions and we are working with other local authorities to share best practice and explore where we can work together to make improvements and achieve efficiencies.

Joint working is also essential to encourage more growth. City Deal is a prime example and I am very pleased to see its efforts coming to fruition, bringing investment and jobs to our area.

In Wales we are also affected by several layers of government decisions. The priorities set out in Westminster and Cardiff Bay have a knock-on effect for us. Although we make the decisions we feel are best for our area, ultimately we only have the finances we are given – and in Newport they are historically low.

As leader of the Welsh Local Government Association and member of the Local Government Association I also strive to influence and shape the considerations and decisions of government on a Wales and UK-wide level. I do this for the benefit of Newport, the region and Wales as a whole. So, as we are again faced with juggling the needs of our city and a smaller pot from which to fund services, I urge residents, businesses, partners, charities and any interested parties to get involved and have their say.