Council sticks to £9.6m budget cuts

Ceredigion's Cabinet is sticking to its guns and keeping to a 40-point plan to cut £9.6m from this coming year's budget.

Cabinet members agreed to go ahead with the cuts - despite an attempt by the corporate resources scrutiny committee to call in the decision.

Backbench councillors wanted more time to scrutinise decisions which include cuts to Llandysul swimming pool, highway maintenance, services for the elderly and local schools.

Council leader Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn told this week's special meeting that the council needed to decide quickly so finance chief Gwyn Jones could set the budget in time for the new financial year in April.

"It's not an easy time for any of us but we have to do what's best for the county and think strategically," she said.

Councillors have been left "shellshocked" by the scale of the cuts - £20m over three years - and have criticised the Cabinet for not consulting with local members and the community.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Hag Harris said it was the worst budget the council had ever faced.

"We will learn lessons this year for the next two years. Quite frankly the process up to now has been unsatisfactory."

But he warned that members should avoid analysing the cuts in detail.

"You can't bring a microscope on every single issue. We will go into democratic spasm and collapse."

Cllr ap Gwynn reminded the meeting that the council had only learned in October what the scale of the cuts would be.

"We were left shellshocked," she said.

Cabinet member for highways Cllr Alun Williams called on local town and community councils to use their powers to plug the funding gaps.

"It's time our community councils stepped up to the plate," he said. "They need to show their muscle."

Opposition leader Cllr Ceredig Davies called for the Cabinet to make savings by restructuring.

"We have restructured the directors but we still have eight Cabinet members," he said.

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