FUNDING for schools is set to be slashed, rubbish will only be collected once a month, and street lights could be switched off if Blaenau Gwent council’s budget plans for the coming financial year are approved.
Council tax is also set to go up by four per cent from April 1 – which equates to residents needing to find an extra £58.76 a year.
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has been consulting on the council tax increase as well as a whole host of cuts and savings to services as it strives to finalise its 2023/2024 budget.
Due to the cost of living crisis the authority needs to find £6.7 million in cuts and savings to deliver as part of the 2023/2024 budget.
The authority has asked residents the question: “What is acceptable,” as it prepares to reform services,
The council says it is doing this in three broad categories: service change for efficiency, commercial activity and business development, future business and service opportunities.
Council leader, Cllr Steve Thomas (pictured) said: “Setting this year’s budget is not an easy task, and it’s important we get out and engage with people in our communities so that we can explain in more detail the scale of the challenge and the difficult decisions we are facing.
“We also want to ask them for their views on priorities and ideas for council spending.”
Service cuts and savings include:
Reduction in funding to individual schools – £252,000;
Review of funding arrangements between schools and local education authority – £120,000.
Review of services provided by Aneurin Leisure Trust – £92,000;
Review of arrangements school transport- £58,000;
Remove school crossing patrols – £177,840;
Withdraw council contribution to public toilet provision in town centres £17,000;
Review operating hours at each of the council’s recycling sites – £70,000;
Move to four weekly refuse collection – potential saving not worked out yet;
Fortnightly green waste collection – £63,000;
No more free dog poo bags – £14,600;
Discontinuation of pest control treatment service – £35,000;
Future office space requirements – £250,000;
Bus service subsidy removal – £107,680;
Stopping support for remembrance day (armistice) parades – £2,400;
Reduction in the budget for councillor allowances – £50,000;
Reduction in grants to small local organisations – £8,910;
The council is also looking at a number of money making schemes that have a potential income. These include:
Generate more income from council tax by granting sites for new house building – £100,000;
Additional income from the council’s industrial unit portfolio – £100,000;
Develop trade waste services – £64,000;
Room hire at the General Offices – £60,000;
Silent Valley wind turbine project – £72,000.
Proposals to expand Tredegar industrial estate and redeveloping the former Ebbw Vale Police Station are being worked on.
In December the Welsh Government announced its provisional local government settlement. For the second year running Blaenau Gwent languishes at the bottom of the funding table and is set to receive a 6.5 per cent increase – which is well below the Wales average of 7.9 per cent.
The council estimates it will need £178 million for next year’s budget. It will receive £140 million from the Welsh Government with the remaining £38 million coming from council tax
The draft budget is expected to be agreed by the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Cabinet on Wednesday, February 22, before going in front of all councillors for ratification on Thursday, February 23.