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LABOUR group leader, Steve Thomas hopes to take back control of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. following the local election on Thursday May 5.

In 2017 Labour suffered a disastrous election, losing 20 seats, with 13 councillors elected to the 42-seat authority, leaving the party in the wilderness for five years.

Mr Thomas has set out four priorities that he would hope to deliver for Blaenau Gwent.

This includes one proposal that could see the end of the county borough in its present form, and re-open the door on council reorganisation discussions in Wales.

Mr Thomas said:

“In the run-up to this election, our candidates have been out on the streets having conversations with residents who have provided some critical feedback.

“We will build on our already positive relationship with the Labour Welsh Government to assist residents with the cost-of-living and energy crisis.

“For example, we will look at investing in financial inclusion support; we will look at things like the Discretionary Housing Payments policy and Welsh Government’s free school meals policy to help support the most vulnerable.

“We would focus on assisting residents in managing their finances at this difficult time. ”

“A key issue raised from our conversations with residents is the environment and litter/fly-tipping.

“A Labour council will seek to transform the environmental department and prioritise the areas that matter to our residents.

“We will also ensure that those who commit littering offences are dealt with promptly and firmly.

“We will also do all we can to tackle the climate emergency by investing more in renewable energy.”

On inward investment and the economy, Mr Thomas said:  “We intend to be a strong player in the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

“We will seek to maximise benefit from the A465 dualling project, continue to campaign with our colleagues for rail improvements and press the (UK) Treasury for the promised funding for the Abertillery spur.”

Mr Thomas explained that lessons learnt from the years of “austerity” following the economic downturn of 15 years ago.

This means that he believes bigger forms of local government could be best to weather an impending financial storm, that he believes will come soon,

Mr Thomas added:

“Even though Blaenau Gwent has recently enjoyed the best funding in decades, the likelihood of a global financial downturn following Covid-19 could have a disastrous effect on the ability of us and other small councils to deliver core services.”

“We will hold discussions with residents, Welsh Government and other councils to seek the best long-term solutions, even if it means that Blaenau Gwent will no longer exist as a stand-alone council.”

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