Friday, 14 December 2007

Local Government Funding: Conwy in Call my Bluff

Well, it had to happen. In what seems like a classic example of call my bluff, Conwy County Borough Council attempts to stick its two fingers up to the Welsh Assembly Government - You've failed to give us a fair settlement, so if you can pay for that, then you can maybe pay for this.

The council which will welcome next year's Urdd Eisteddfod does not know if it can afford the £300,000 it has promised to the event.

Originally, Conwy Council had said it would give the money towards the costs of festival in Penrhyn Bay in May. But council leader Goronwy Edwards said financial constraints meant the council had to reassess all its spending.

The Urdd said any loss of support would be a "blow" and facilities would have to be reassessed.

Councillor Edwards said:

The council had promised £300,000 to the eisteddfod two to three years ago, but at the moment because of our settlement, we have to look at all our spending and make sure that council services are maintained... the council was having to reassess all its spending, and not just on the Eisteddfod.

We only received a settlement of 1.1% in the budget, which is very low, and so the money available to sustain services is much lower.

No discussion has yet taken place on financial support, but the council's scrutiny committee has refused other applications for assistance, including one from the Royal Welsh Show. "Things are very tight but I do hope that the council will be able to keep our promise to the Urdd," said Mr Edwards. "The last thing we want to do is not give the money, but council services must come first."

A meeting has been arranged next Wednesday with the Welsh Assembly Government to discuss the council's financial settlement.

It's safe to assume that it won't come to this, but you have to hand it to Council Leader Goronwy Edwards - who must be displaying one proud smirk at the moment - for this clever move. Councillors up and down the country must be kicking themselves that they couldn't come up with something before Conwy, in order to be the first to drive the knife in.


toss 14 December 2007 at 23:04  

If times were so tight, presumably the councillors would take a cut in their expenses. No chance of that so they'll threaten to deprive the kids of a unique cultural experience. Well done, Conwy!

Oscar 15 December 2007 at 07:05  

Sorry, but I think the council should cut it's cloth accordingly.
You can not spend money you don't have, at the cost of other year round services.
It should be up to the ARSEmbly to cough up.

Anonymous 15 December 2007 at 08:49  

WAG deserve a bit of aggro for the way they've handled the whole funding situation.

Johnny 15 December 2007 at 09:09  

Let's hope that this will get the ball rolling. The Welsh Government deserve all they get at the moment. 2008 will hopefully be a year that shakes up Welsh politics, and particularly bad for Labour, for even thinking of entering into coalition with Plaid Cymru.

North Walian 15 December 2007 at 13:57  

Goronwy is highly respected in the area- good on you!

Anonymous 16 December 2007 at 15:02  

Nothing original about this, councils always threaten to cut popular services when there are funding issues ..... they never cut staff ... well only frontline manual workers .... every council in Wales could quite easily cut a half of its army of pen-pushers without any drop in service to the public.

Jon 17 December 2007 at 11:15  

"Nothing original about this"

But the timing is priceless!

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