Here's the latest Argus column by Torfaen County Borough Council leader Cllr Anthony Hunt:

IT'S great to see Unison running a campaign to recognise the work of local government workers – our local service champions.

Local government workers are there for us, through every stage of our lives - from birth, through our youth and adulthood, to old age. We cannot live our lives without them.

But local government workers are often forgotten.


Thanks to austerity, local government has too often been an easy target for budget cuts, compared to more recognisable services like the NHS.

The NHS is a national institution that we should be proud of and strain every sinew to protect.

But without the preventative services like social care and housing which are provided by local government, the strain on the NHS would be increased massively.

Refuse workers, trading standards officers, care workers, environmental health inspectors, youth workers, librarians, teachers, school cleaners and many more enhance all of our lives.

They deliver hundreds of vital local services.

They’ve withstood years of real terms pay cuts and ever increasing workloads thanks to austerity, and they have to put up with politicians like me trying to get them to improve services despite those challenges!

Much of the work local government workers do is ‘behind the scenes’ or confidential in nature, so the staff often don’t get the recognition they deserve.

But thanks to their work, some of the most vulnerable people in our communities can live independent and fulfilled lives.

Vulnerable children are kept safe.

Pupils can learn in schools.

Families in danger of becoming homeless can access help.


Sometimes we only hear about this kind of work when things go wrong, or where there are gaps in the system.

No council is perfect, but every council is full of front-line staff going above and beyond the call of duty.

They’re not overpaid bureaucrats, they’re overstretched workers in our communities doing their best to run hundreds of vital services.

So as a council leader, it is right that I say thank you to them and spread awareness of the good work they do. They really are champions in our communities.

That’s why I’m keen to support Local Service Champions Day, on Thursday, October 17, this year.

Throughout the UK, council workers and members of the public will celebrate the contribution local services, and the people that deliver them, make to our lives.

I’m keen to talk about what we can do locally to better recognise workers and volunteers who make a difference and would welcome suggestions.

Council workers, the voluntary sector and local groups and volunteers make a priceless contribution to our communities.

To all those people reading this column, thank you.