THERE has been much discussion in recent days and weeks about government budgets and with it, the ongoing debate about where money should be spent.

The challenge in local government has been growing over many years now and while cuts have been made across the public sector, there is no doubt that we have taken the brunt.

The pressures and demands we are facing continue to grow - and show absolutely no sign of diminishing in the future.

Despite this, the funding we receive has stayed more or less the same and that means the gap between the money we get and what we have to spend keeps getting bigger – this year Newport is working to plug a gap of over £15 million.

We have an ageing population and more and more people will need care either in their own homes or in residential/nursing homes.

We are a growing city which is vital for creating jobs and the local economy but it means more children and more school places.

We have more and more children with complex needs transitioning into adulthood and need continuing support and care, probably for the rest of their lives.

Many services are being stretched almost to breaking point but we have fewer staff and resources to meet ever-increasing needs.

We have made significant savings and efficiencies – £45 million over the last five years – and we are doing everything we can to work collaboratively and innovatively with other councils, with voluntary organisations and with the private sector.

But we want to do more than just provide the basic services that we have to provide by law as we want to ensure Newport is an attractive place to live, thereby attracting employers and creating jobs.

I find it just as frustrating as our residents at the reduction in, or even loss of services. This is not what I, my colleagues or our employees want.

This is one reason why I am supporting Eluned Morgan’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign. We most certainly need a fresh approach and a change in dynamic between central, Welsh and local government, and I believe Eluned can offer that.

She brings invaluable experience from other political establishments and industry, and shares my belief that high quality jobs and reinvestment in public services must be pivotal themes of a radical and essential new approach to the economy in Wales.