Here's the latest Argus column by Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle:

NO POLITICIAN wants to ask local residents to pay more for local services but these are difficult times for all councils.

That is why I am proud to support Torfaen Council, a Labour council, in fighting hard to protect key local services.

After nine years of Tory austerity, councils in Wales have around a quarter less money in real terms than at the start of the decade.

This has led to deep cuts to our public services resulting in Torfaen Council having no option but to put up council tax in a bid to protect core services that impact on people’s lives the most – schools for our young people and social care for our most vulnerable people.


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These are services worth fighting for.

I am proud that issues like funding schools and social care are where Torfaen Council draws its red lines.

There is no magic money tree.

We have to prioritise what matters.

For opponents of the tax rise to pretend the council could simply freeze council tax and avoid making cuts while protecting the most vital services is a lie.

No amount of macho posturing will change the realities of the austerity we are facing from Westminster.

In Torfaen we have a leader in Anthony Hunt who has been relentless in asking tough questions of Welsh Government and I welcome the additional funding announced by Welsh Government due in no small part to his efforts.

But the immense pressures on funding remain.

And we only have to look over the border in England to see what the alternative is – local government services cut to the bone or contracted out.

We have even seen schools in England announce they are going to shorten the school day and charge parents who cannot pick their children up at lunchtime!

In politics there is often an easy path and a hard path.

If the easy path was always the right way, then the job we do as elected representatives would be simple.

In fact, we would hardly be needed at all.

That is why I am proud to support Torfaen council in taking a tough decision to protect the things that matter.

These are difficult times for all councils of every political colour and none but I am proud Torfaen Council has decided to back a budget which funds key local services despite the cuts that continue to be imposed from Westminster because of Tory austerity.

The solution has to be an end to the austerity which is bringing public services across Britain to its knees.