ROAD sweeping could be reduced in Carmarthenshire, child psychologists cut and some primary schools with low numbers potentially “rationalised” to help balance the books over the next three years.
The council has launched a public consultation about new savings proposals before a budget is set for the 2019-20 financial year and beyond.
Like all authorities, Carmarthenshire is grappling with difficult grant settlements from central Government while having to fund public sector pay rises and meet demographic pressures such as an ageing population.
It is targeting £9.8 million savings next year and a further £18 million in the following two years — and this is on top of some £50 million savings it has made since around 2013-14.
Councillor David Jenkins, executive board member for resources, said: “Once again we have had a disappointing provisional settlement from Welsh Government which leaves us in a very challenging position with difficult choices to make between balancing the books and the needs of our communities.
“As always, we will be taking the views of members of the public on board as part of a wide-ranging consultation on proposals, and we will do all we can to mitigate the impact on frontline services.”
A raft of savings proposals have previously been agreed for 2019-20. The council is now consulting on a series of new ones.
Here are some of the new 2019-20 savings proposals for highways, transport and waste services:
– Stop scheduled road sweeping along rural roads (£282,000)
– Review provision of civic amenity sites in the north of the county (£70,000)
– Stop flower bed and shrub planting in town centres or transfer this service to town councils as some have expressed an interest (£38,000)
– Review and reduce number of roads gritted during the winter (£32,000).
New savings proposals for education and children include:
– Ending the education welfare service to schools which already manage most of the attendance work carried out by the service (£180,000)
– “Rationalising” expensive-to-run primary schools with low numbers, partly by creating school federations, to reduce the primary school estate (£100,000) with more significant savings in the following two years
– Cutting the youth support service’s budget (£100,000)
– Reducing the number of education and child psychologists (£50,000).
Leisure and culture proposals include:
– Ending catering training opportunities at two council venues for people who face employment and training barriers (£120,000)
– Co-locating some branch libraries with other businesses or premises (£10,000)
– Reducing opening hours at Parc Howard Museum, Llanelli (£8,000).
Council chiefs also propose closing Pendine Outdoor Education Centre, which offers residential placements to primary pupils, in 2020-21 because the building needs a lot of investment and other providers can step in.
Grass cutting around town centres could also end in 2020-21, with a view to transferring that work to interested town councils.
Council tax is line to rise by 4.89% in 2019-20, but no decisions have been taken as yet.
Cllr Jenkins said that some of the money held in reserves will be used to help fund capital projects.
Referring to the savings proposals next year and beyond, he said: “This medium-term financial plan will form the basis of our budget consultation over the coming months.
“This will ensure that essential services can still be delivered whilst maintaining council tax at a reasonable level.”