A reduction in bin collections, an increase in parking fees, a council tax rise and a review of Wrexham’s library services are just of the proposals Wrexham Council is seeking the public’s views on.
There are just five days left to take part and have your say in the local authority’s ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation.
It comes as the local authority looks to make further savings over the next two years and generate more revenue to offset cuts.
Wrexham Council estimates that that it will be almost £10 million short over the next two years.
£5.4 million of this needed next year – however it is warned that the shortfall could increase to £7.2m next year depending on the final Welsh Government settlement.
Speaking over the summer Leader of Wrexham Council Mark Pritchard warned that a “tipping point” had been reached and that the council is “facing the most difficult time in its history”.
The now annual Difficult Decisions consultation has been up and running since a rather muted launch back at the start of the October.
The consultation includes proposals to increase charges by an additional 20p to 50p depending on the location and length of stay on the existing tariffs in all car parks operated by Wrexham Council.
It is estimated that this will help generate an additional £71,000 a year.
The document also states that the “time has come to introduce three-weekly collections for your black/blue bins.”
A reduction in household waste collections had been mooted during previous budget processes, including during last year’s Difficult Decisions. However the ruling administration later decided not to press ahead with the plans ‘for the time being’.
Back in July it was announced that three-weekly collections were back on the cards and that the council would be looking to get the backing to introduce a charge for all households to have their green bins emptied.
The latter was approved by executive board meetings at a special meeting in that month.
Under the changes recycling and food waste would continue to be collected on a weekly basis and it is hoped that the change to “residual waste” will lead to an increase in recycling levels.
It is estimated that along with reducing carbon emissions, the plans would reduce council costs by £47,000 per year.
The question / feedback section differs to others in the consultation, with the council looking for backing from the public to increase council tax if the final Welsh Government settlement is low.
It also asks if participants “believe that Welsh Government should provide a settlement which assists councils in delivering frontline services?”
In the consultation, Wrexham Council states: “We understand that budgets are tight for everyone, however in order to help cover rising costs and to protect front-line services as much as possible, we are asking you to consider supporting this proposal.
“This will help us to protect, as much as possible, those services that are a high priority to you – such as schools and to meet the increased demands placed on adults’ and children’s social care.”
Wrexham Council is also proposing that a review of current standards for highway maintenance, grounds maintenance and Public Rights of Way is carried out to help make savings of £374,000.
In the consultation the local authority says it thinks it “could reduce the current standards which we currently deliver in each of these areas”, which would “inevitably have an impact on the quality of our roads, the upkeep of areas such as parks and grass verges, and on the condition of some of our footpaths, bridleways and byways.”
A review of library services across the county borough is also underway, with a separate consultation currently running alongside the Difficult Decisions process.
The “large-scale review” is anticipated to raise £300,000 and includes a potential change in opening hours and modernising the service while reducing spend.
The consultation also suggests that savings could be made by a review of the country parks delivery model.
There are seven country parks across the county borough, which are managed by Wrexham Parks, Countryside and Public Rights of Way Service.
The country parks play host to a number of events and activities throughout the year, some of which are free to attend and others with an entrance fee / cost to participate.
The council is proposing “using a third party provider” to support services in the parks (which may result in a cost to participants and a change of experience), or consider ceasing the delivery of activities and events altogether.”
It is estimated that by doing so the local authority could make savings of £153,000.
Wrexham Council says it will also “look to change the way it runs community resource centres and Wrexham Memorial Hall, so that we can increase usage and generate additional income.”
This, along with the previous introduction of childcare charges for breakfast clubs, is estimated to generate £115,000 over the next two years.
Each section of the consultation that is open to feedback offers participants space to provide alternative suggestions and provide feedback on how the proposals will affect the public.
You can take part in the ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation on the YourVoiceWrexham website until November 13th 2019.
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