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Have your say on council’s budget proposals

PEOPLE are being encouraged to have their say on a range of savings proposals being considered by Carmarthenshire County Council as part of its annual budget setting process.

A public consultation has been launched giving people an opportunity to review proposals that could help the council save £16.5million over the next three years.

The council is inviting local residents, businesses, community and voluntary organisations to complete an online budget survey or drop-in to a face-to-face consultation event, to say how the proposals might impact on their families and communities.

The council is also asking whether people would accept a higher increase in council tax in order to avoid some of the efficiency proposals.

Feedback will be considered in early February before final decisions are made by councillors in March when they must set a balanced budget.

Several proposals have been put forward for public consultation.

Amongst them are plans to help schools manage budgets more effectively by sharing resources and merging schools where there are low pupil numbers; as well as supporting children with additional learning needs to attend their local school by upskilling staff, therefore saving costs on specialist settings.

The household waste recycling centre at Whitland could be closed; charges could be raised at the council’s cemetery in Ammanford; three public toilets could be closed where there are alternative facilities nearby, and charges for ‘superloos’ could be increased.

Some services that the council is not required to provide could be reduced, including the closure of some under-used facilities and the scaling back of maintenance and cleansing routines.

Meanwhile, income targets have been raised for some of the council’s facilities, including Pembrey Country Park, Pendine Outdoor Education Centre, Dylan Thomas Boathouse, theatres and leisure centres.

Further income is being sought through more vigorous income recovery from the council’s trading standards team and a potential paid-for treatment service for Japanese Knotweed.

And council staff have been told they need to find £13million of internal savings across all departments to save money by working more efficiently, including plans to reduce travelling, printing and energy costs; as well as looking at procurement arrangements and staffing structures.

Continued efforts are also being made to provide a range of preventative services to support vulnerable people at home and in their communities to improve their wellbeing whilst reducing the need for costly reactive social care.

Cllr David Jenkins, the council’s Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “Like other councils, we continue to face increased costs and demand for our services which is not matched with the same level of increased government funding. We are making savings by improving efficiency and looking carefully at how services can be better provided – this allows us to continue spending in areas of most need, caring for our most vulnerable residents and providing a range of front-line services.

“Asking people how our proposals might impact on them is important to us, so that we can fully understand public opinion and make decisions based on that feedback.

“This is an important consultation, and we encourage everyone to spend time reviewing the proposals and telling us their thoughts.”

Anyone without access to the internet is encouraged to visit their nearest library or customer service centre to use the free public access computers. Alternatively, hard copies of the survey are available on request.

A series of drop-in events are also being planned – dates and venues will be published on the council’s website and social media feeds.

For further information, or to share views in another way, contact the consultation team by email, consultation@carmarthenshire.gov.uk, or by calling 01267 234567.

The consultation runs until January 28, 2020.

Drop-in events will be held between 10am and 2pm at:

Friday, January 10 – Llandeilo, Municipal Buildings
Tuesday, January 14 – St Clears (location TBC)
Wednesday, January 15 – Hwb, Quay Street, Ammanford
Thursday, January 16 – Cawdor Hall, Newcastle Emlyn
Monday/Wednesday January 20/22 (date TBC) – Llandovery Library
Thursday, January 23 – Hwb, Stepney Street, Llanelli
Monday, January 27 – Hwb, Spilman Street, Carmarthen

According to a BBC Local Democracy Report by Richard Youle, these are some of the council’s savings proposals for education, children’s services and social care in 2020-21:

– Cut the number of education and child psychologists (£100,000 saving)

– Review children’s services, maximise grants and manage vacant posts (£100,000)

– Reduce the number of school kitchens (£40,000)

– Reduce the number of packages of domiciliary care which require two carers to attend, rather than one carer (£214,000)

– Reduce the number of people in residential care (£300,000)

– Help more people help themselves via an information service operated by Llesiant Delta Wellbeing, thereby reducing demand on statutory services (£218,000)

– Provide specialist continence advice in order to reduce domiciliary care demand (£50,000)

Some of the savings proposals in other council departments for 2020-21 include:

– Increase parking charges by 20p, following a five-year freeze (£167,000 saving)

– End winter gritting of car parks (£100,000)

– Disband the lighting night patrol (£30,000)

– Contract savings on the operation of nine so-called superloos (£200,000)

– Vacate the day centre at Cross Hands (£65,000)

– Cease flower planting at the Eastgate roundabout, Llanelli, although efforts will be made to attract outside funding (£19,000)

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