CALLS have been made to try and make sure a council’s departmental budget comes under control, ahead of a predicted squeeze on local government finances.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s budget monitoring scrutiny committee, it was pointed out that overspending in the Environment portfolio was spoiling an otherwise rosy picture.

The council’s chief officer for resources, Rhian Hayden, told councillors that after the first quarter of 2021/22 she was predicting the council will be £2.494 million under budget by the end of the financial year, March 31, 2022.

But as part of that figure the Environment portfolio is forecasting that it will be £323,000 over budget.

This is broken down further to predictions of overspending by £138,485 for recycling collection – £60,449 for waste disposal – £136,432  for recycling disposal.

Labour group leader Cllr Stephen Thomas said: “What work is being done to try and ensure that the environment department comes to an underspend position?”

Cllr Thomas said that the problems had been there for a couple of years.

Cllr Thomas said: “We can’t give carte blanche to an overspending portfolio because clearly in the next two to three years someone’s going to have to pay for the pandemic and sure as night follows day local government budgets will be cut.”

The council’s director of regeneration and community services Richard Crook said: “This particular budget has been under pressure for a number of years.


“During the last 18 months as we’ve been through this pandemic we’ve collected more black bin bag waste than we were collecting before.”

Mr Crook explained wardens had been reintroduced to try and persuade people to put less into the black bins,

Mr Crook explained that a change of people’s shopping habits to more online and home delivery had created an increase in recycling for materials such as cardboard.

But the market price for cardboard had “dropped significantly,”

Mr Crook said:  “Hopefully the market can come to a steadier state, we are renewing our contracts on a shorter term so that we can get better prices.

“We are looking at all aspects of the service, it is a difficulty as we don’t have any surplus budgets to dampen out the impacts of negative budgets,.

“Reducing the costs and increasing the income is the only way of bringing them into line.

The report will be discussed by councillors on the Executive team on October 11.