Plaid Leader Attacks ‘Salami’ Slicing of Caerphilly Frontline Services

31/12/2018

In a hard-hitting article, Plaid Cymru group leader, Colin Mann, writes about Labour's lack of vision over its budget plans for next year and attacks "salami slicing" of frontline services.

Caerphilly council’s budget proposals for 2019-20 show a real lack of vision.

We all know that all public bodies are facing revenue cuts due to the UK government’s austerity policies.  This has been made worse in Wales due to the poor settlement given to councils by the Labour Welsh Government.

Reacting to this Labour in Caerphilly resorted to ‘salami-slicing’ of services in spite of saying on many occasions that this would not happen.  The oft-repeated phrase of ‘protecting front-line services’ is proving to be false.

With a lack of central funding the only answer to preserving services is for the council to generate more income for itself, beyond the usual suspects of extra charges for leisure and parking, etc.  There are many examples of initiatives by councils of various political persuasions but nothing locally.

Together with colleagues I proposed, several years ago, that the council investigate different ways of providing much needed services, e.g via social enterprise.

The Labour council is actually withdrawing support for the voluntary sector which often proves to be excellent value for money in service provision.

There are also notable examples of muddled thinking.  There is still a policy of promoting our town centres - something started by a previous Plaid Cymru administration.

So why are there also proposals for several things which will actively discourage our residents visiting town centres. How will people manage with no public toilets?  Extra charges on bus services will make them less viable.  At the same time parking charges are set to rise. 

The police are under pressure to provide uniformed patrols.  People will feel even less safe if the much valued Community Safety Wardens are also withdrawn.

With less people going to town local shops will be more vulnerable.  Many of these are already under severe pressure due to on-line shopping and the disruption caused by the Pwllypant roadworks.

Communities generally will look less attractive with the stopping of maintenance to such things as benches and railings.

Special events in many communities are set for the chop.

A notable example of abolishing a front-line service is the proposal to cut one of the services that our residents regard as most valuable, the Community Safety Wardens.  There were very sensible proposals to combine this service with the civil enforcement of parking but this idea has now been scrapped.

The Labour administration needs to set out imaginative proposals for the future of our area, not agree to never-ending cuts.

Colin Mann