NEWPORT council plans to raise council tax by nearly seven per cent as it seeks to save more than £8 million next year.

Higher parking charges, staff redundancies, reduced customer services hours and changes to waste collection are being considered for the 2019/20 budget.

Contentious proposals to withdraw from the special needs support service Sencom, and introduce parking charges at Tredegar Park and Rogerstone’s Fourteen Locks, have already been agreed.

Council leader Debbie Wilcox said services are being “stretched to breaking point” by demand while the council faces a £15 million funding shortfall.

Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox

Cabinet will meet on December 12 to consider including six new proposals to save £1.9 million, including:

  • Increasing council tax by 6.95 per cent, meaning mean Band D properties paying an extra £1.41 a week, or £73.47 a year. Saving: £1.4 million.
  • Increasing annual parking permit charges from £17 to £30 for residents, £7 to £12 for visitors and £935 to £1,000 for businesses. An additional 50p increase for off-street parking except for Belle Vue Park. Saving: £86,000.
  • Cutting seven members of staff working within Newport schools, including four educational welfare officers (EWOs) which will likely impact attendance and persistent absence levels. Saving: £250,000.
  • A review of special waste collection and the introduction of higher fees - £20 for up to three items and £6 per additional item. Residents currently pay an average £6 per item. Saving: £66,000.
  • Cuts in customer services operation hours at the Information Station from five days to four days a week. The council’s civic centre operations will be unaffected. Saving: £31,000.
  • A reduction in voluntary sector grants from £286,000 a year to £140,000 over the next three years. Saving: £54,000 (in 2019/2020).

Senior councillors have already approved some proposals to find the remaining £6.2 million required, including its future without SenCom.

A new-born hearing imparement session being held at Sencom

Leaving the service, which provides specialised support for hundreds of schoolchildren with special needs, is expected to save the council £250,000.

Elsewhere, the introduction of smaller rubbish bins, to encourage increased recycling and a “period of enforcement and education” is also earmarked, saving £110,000 and reducing the risk of further fines for missing recycling targets.

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But there are plans to invest £3.1 million in schools and £3.8million in care services to meet increased demand.

Newport council has saved £45 million in the last five years but “ongoing public sector austerity” means further cuts of £33 million must be made by 2023.

“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,” said Cllr Wilcox.

“The pressures and demands we are facing continue to grow – and show absolutely no sign of diminishing in the future. Many services are being stretched almost to breaking point but we have fewer staff and resources to meet ever-increasing needs.”

Cllr Wilcox continued: "Although there are more incredibly difficult decisions that will have to be made for the coming year, we are actually in a stronger position than many other councils.

"Several years of changing the way we work and delivering services in new and innovative ways has certainly been to our credit.

The draft proposals go out to consultation on December 13 before a final budget is approved on February 26, 2019.