Posted: Sat 3rd Feb 2024

A view from Carolyn Thomas – Welsh Labour’s North Wales Member of the Senedd

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Feb 3rd, 2024

Wrexham.com has invited the four North Wales Members of the Senedd to write a monthly column with updates on their work. You can find their updates – along with contributions from the Wrexham and Clwyd South MPs and MSs – here. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌​​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌‌​​‌‌​‌‍‌‌​​‌‌​​

In this month’s column for Wrexham.com, Welsh Labour MS Carolyn Thomas writes:

This month in the Senedd, we debated the Welsh Government’s annual draft budget. As always, there are passionate debates over priorities for spending, but fundamentally, we should not have to resort to fighting for crumbs from the Westminster table when trying to fund vital public services across Wales.

14 years of austerity politics from Westminster means that public services and local authorities are on their knees. Councils across Wales are facing a funding deficit of £421mn, whilst the Welsh Government’s budget is worth £1.3bn less than it was in 2021, which results in having to constantly do more with less.

Couple this with massive inflationary pressures caused by the short-lived but disastrous Truss-Kwarteng premiership, any additional funding is just falling into the black hole of inflation.

For local authorities, Council Tax used to contribute 24% of the local authority budget, with the rest made up of grants from central government.

Now, 30% of local authority budgets are made up from Council Tax – cuts to government funding have simply resulted in the burden being passed onto households through increased Council Tax bills.

The UK Government response to this unfolding funding catastrophe is like listening to a broken record; they remain wedded to the idea that public service and local authority budgets can continue to be shrunk in real terms, whilst at the same time continuing to pine for tax cuts for the richest in society.

Things are made even more difficult in Wales, as the UK Government imposes draconian restrictions on the Welsh Government’s ability to use cheap borrowing to fund capital programmes; whether that be building schools and hospitals, or procuring buses and trains.

We are also owed up to £4bn in consequential funding from HS2, which is being held back on the patently ludicrous pretext that HS2 is an ‘England and Wales project’ even though it will only reach Birmingham, 83 miles away from Wales.

I will, as always, continue to use my position in the Senedd to fight for Councils across North Wales, such as Wrexham County Borough Council, to get a bigger slice of the funding pie, but we have to be honest about the fact that the pie is simply not big enough to begin with.

So in that regard, I will also continue to use my voice to campaign against the deliberate underfunding of Wales, and by extension, Welsh public services and local authorities.

This month, I have also been campaigning alongside residents in Llandegla to save a key community bus service through the village. Arriva Wales had previously announced that from January 14th, it would no longer serve the village via its services from Rhyl to Wrexham.

I attended a public meeting with concerned residents and have been working with stakeholders such as Arriva, Transport for Wales, and Denbighshire County Council to bring about a solution.

I am pleased that that work has resulted in an interim solution being agreed which will see a combination of using the Arriva X51 service through the village for the first and last service, and then using a specially contracted minibus service in between to collect people from Llandegla village.

It is now vitally important that all of those involved continue to work together to ensure a long-term solution is in place when the Bus Transition Funding ends.

As a Member of the Senedd for North Wales, I’m here to help you with any issues that you might have. Please email me on [email protected], call my office on 0300 110 0176, or visit my website: www.carolynthomas.wales



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