NEWPORT'S proposed 7.95 per cent council tax increase is too high, say two thirds of the more than 500 people who responded to an online consultation on the city council's 2020/21 budget plans.

But of the 516 people who took time to respond, almost 30 per cent of them live outside the city.

And the 147 out-of-city responses was a higher number than from any single council ward in the city, a statistic repeated in a bus wi-fi survey.

This had 2,940 responses, and 472 were from people living outside Newport.

In the online survey, Rogerstone had the highest engagement of any ward, with 56 people taking part, followed by Allt-Yr-Yn with 48.

Ringland had the lowest, with just four people responding, followed by Marshfield and Tredegar Park (Duffryn) which each had seven people take part.

South Wales Argus:

A graph showing where the online survey responses were received from

Councillor Matthew Evans, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said he found the results ‘surprising.’

“I’ve never been asked to comment on Torfaen’s budget consultation,” he said.

“I think the wider issue is the amount of people who are taking part from a city with a population of 150,000 people.

“I think we need to be more creative and do it all year round and not just at budget time.”

The effectiveness of the consultation has also been questioned by Newport’s Fairness Commission, an independent body which scrutinises the proposals on issues around fairness.

It says there are “far too many” proposals where the impact is “too difficult to gauge”, based on the information provided.

“With many proposals, there is simply no way of telling what the implications for fairness might be, or whether these have been considered at all in the drafting of the budget,” its response to the consultation says.

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The commission says there are “significant concerns around the effectiveness (as well as the fairness) of a consultation in which the implications of the budget proposals at stake will not be apparent to the general public.”

Out of those who responded to the online survey, 65.6 per cent said a proposed 7.95 per cent council tax rise is too much, while in the bus survey, 37.2 per cent of people said the planned hike is too high.

Newport City Council’s cabinet will meet to discuss final budget plans tomorrow.

“Newport City Council invites the Fairness Commission to review its budget proposals and consultation process and appreciates its input," said a council spokeswoman.

“It is probably unique in Wales in requesting this scrutiny from an external body and its responses will assist in improving what is not only a complex and detailed process but also one of the most significant undertaken by the council.

“The council wants to move to a year-round budget conversation with its residents and each year begins the consultation earlier.

“In 2019, it held the first of a series of sessions to discuss the budget with the public in June and these took place regularly until the council began the formal consultation on proposals.

“This attracted the largest number of responses the council has ever received.”