Council to dip into its reserves

Ceredigion County Council is to take £1.4m from its reserves to balance its budget in the wake of the worst ever grant settlement from the Welsh Assembly.

This week's Cabinet approved the budget for 2014/15 with £9.6m of cuts with the next full council meeting also recommended to increase council tax by five per cent.

"We have been thrown head first in having to deal with the worst cuts the county council has seen over the years," said leader Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn.

The council identified £8.6m worth of savings late last year - including controversial plans to cut funding to Llandysul swimming pool, cut back on theatre grants and mobile library services plus services for the elderly and highway maintenance.

Since then the authority has found another £1m worth of savings including clawing cash back from transport contracts, more voluntary retirement among staff and cutting back on council vehicle fleet replacements.

Finance chief Gwyn Jones said: "It is a most difficult budget. This is the worst settlement the county council has had since 1996."

However, major capital projects - the new 3-18 school at Llandysul and the new primary school at Drefach - will continue.

Cllr Towyn Evans said that council tax payers in rural areas, such as his Llandyfriog ward, felt that they did not get value for money.

"The rural areas lose out to the towns and do not get the same services," he said. "I understand the difficult decisions and will do my best to defend the county council but you must know what people are feeling."

But Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn said that rural areas did not lose out.

"They receive the same services with education, social services and highways," she said. "I don't think that argument is true."

And she added: "The truth is that council tax in Ceredigion is lower than the median across Wales."

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