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Local AM: Welsh Government prioritising health spending over local councils – example of difficult decisions due to austerity

Wrexham’s Assembly Member has pointed to Conservative austerity measures as a reason for a cut in local government settlements, noting there are Conservatives alongside Independents on the Executive Board locally.

Earlier today we highlighted a scathing assessment of the local government settlement from Welsh Government, that the Leader of Wrexham Council says will result in ‘savage cuts’ – our earlier article is here.

We asked local Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths for her thoughts, as although she was not specifically named by Cllr Pritchard, he referred to individual AM’s in the statement he issued.

Lesley Griffiths AM told us: “This purely political attack is more show than substance as making thinly-veiled threats in the press achieves very little.

“At no point has the Leader of Wrexham Council actually contacted me directly about local government funding. I have, however, met with Wrexham Council’s new Chief Executive and have arranged to meet on a regular basis.

“I question how the Leader of the Council can be shocked and surprised – it’s no secret that since 2010 the Tories have implemented austerity measures which, unfortunately, have very real and significant consequences on our public services. After nine long years, more and more people are suffering and there is no end in sight with further cuts in the pipeline.

“If any additional funding is received, the Welsh Government has announced local government will be a key priority but, in its latest Draft Budget, it’s fair to say the Welsh Government prioritised health spending over local government. This is an example of the difficult decisions that have to be made due to the Tory UK Government’s ongoing pursuit of austerity.

“The Leader of the Council doesn’t appear to understand this or maybe he prefers not to mention it as his group of so-called ‘independents’ work hand in hand alongside Tory councillors to form Wrexham Council’s Executive Board.”

“It is also worth highlighting local authorities’ settlement allocations are decided using a formula that is agreed to by Welsh Local Government Association representatives – not solely by the Welsh Government. At the beginning of the year, councils across Wales were told to prepare for a 3% cut so whilst I fully recognise the settlement is not ideal, it is a lot better than initially thought.

“Rather than act surprised and make inappropriate comments, the Leader of Wrexham Council should already have plans in place to manage the budget responsibly and focus on providing fundamental public services for the people of Wrexham.”

We are expecting the detail of the ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation to be made public by Wrexham Council shortly and will update as and when it is released.

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