CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board has withdrawn proposals to close Whitland Household Waste Recycling Centre from its budget – alongside a number of others – following a comprehensive budget consultation.
The council had asked for public feedback on several suggestions as it looked at ways to save £16.5million over the next three years.
After reviewing that feedback, Executive Board has voted to withdraw the suggested closure of the recycling centre, as well as proposals to reduce public toilet provision.
In addition, they will no longer look to reduce the budget for youth support services and will not implement a proposed increase to cemetery charges.
Proposed efficiencies in budgets for education around additional learning needs will be deferred for at least three years, as will proposals for an administration fee for residential care placements.
In respect of leisure services, instead of increasing charges, additional income will now be met through increased usage of facilities.
Almost £12million has been added to the council’s budget to support inflationary related pressures, and a further £7.4million for new pressures including social care, waste and additional learning needs. The schools’ delegated budget has been given significant support with their budget increasing by £10.1million, providing them with the same spending power as they have in current year.
Funding has also been added to the budgets for social services to invest in workforce, and to the highways budget to improve roads.
Following these adjustments, the budget being put to Full Council for final decision in March will propose a Council Tax increase of 4.89 per cent for the coming year.
Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Resources, said that a better than expected settlement from Welsh Government – an increase of 4.4 per cent – has allowed some flexibility in this year’s budget, but highlighted that many challenges remain.
“Welsh Government’s recognition of the unprecedented level of inflationary and unavoidable pressures facing local authorities does not detract from the fact that savings are still required, despite the welcome funding increase,” he said.
More than 2,000 people responded to the council’s budget consultation, offering valuable feedback on 14 separate proposals.
Executive Board reiterated that these proposals were put forward to get a measure of the public’s opinion, and that no decisions were made before reviewing their feedback.
Cllr Jenkins added: “I would like to express my thanks to all who took part in the consultation or responded to the surveys.
“One thing that is generally clear from those who took part in the consultation is that they do appreciate that difficult choices need to be made.
“I, as portfolio member for resources, and member colleagues, have again really tried to listen both to the public and fellow members’ concerns and respond accordingly.”