Wales

Cash-strapped Caerphilly council 'at end of its tether'

Council tax bill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caerphilly residents face an inflation-busting council tax rise of 6.95%

The leader of Caerphilly council said the authority was "at the end of our tether" after his cabinet backed £14m cuts and a council tax rise of 6.95%.

David Poole said public services were "being killed" by reduced settlements from the Welsh and UK governments.

A cash increase of £549,000 from the Welsh Government for 2019/20 was deemed "miniscule" amid growing financial pressures on the council.

Another £739,000 worth of cutbacks were shelved in the face of public reaction.

These included plans to close community centres, scrap the community safety wardens and close two household waste recycling centres, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Schools, social services, libraries, highways maintenance and public toilets are among the areas still facing cuts.

"We reluctantly went out to consultation with savings that we felt uncomfortable with," Labour leader Mr Poole said.

"We need to get the message out to the Welsh and UK governments that you're killing services that a hell of a lot of people depend on. We're now at the end of our tether."

Nicole Scammell, head of corporate finance, said the extra cash from the Welsh Government "would only cover about half of the pay increases for staff outside schools after this year".

She added that the list of "prudent" savings proposed was the longest recorded by the authority.

Ms Scammell rejected a call by the Plaid Cymru opposition group to use some of the authority's £110m reserves to balance the books as "foolish".

Plaid group leader Colin Mann claimed Labour was dealing the people of Caerphilly "a double whammy of soaring council tax and huge spending cuts of more than £73m" in the last six years.

Independent councillor Nigel Dix accused council leaders of "reckless incompetence", claiming money had been wasted on consultants, developers, and more than £4m spent on a scandal over senior officers' pay.

The full council will be asked to approve the budget proposals next week.

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