DIFFICULT decisions will have to be made in Ceredigion next year against the backdrop of an extremely challenging financial situation, its council leader has said.
Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, in his pre-new year message, said: “Another year has flown by, and it’s a year we can be proud of on many levels.
“Several exciting projects came to fruition during the year bringing benefits to Ceredigion residents and communities.
“During the year, it’s been a privilege to see the launch of the Arfor, Sbarc and Llwyddo’n Lleol programmes which support entrepreneurship and develop the local economy to strengthen the strongholds of the Welsh language here in the county. In addition to this, the first part of the Mid Wales Growth funding was released to help the county’s economy.
“Transferring Hafan y Waun Care Home to the council’s ownership was the culmination of months of work, ensuring that such a valuable resource remains in the county for our older population.”
Cllr Davies added: “In the same way, I am pleased to see work starting on the construction of a brand-new school in Dyffryn Aeron, together with the developments to renovate the Cardigan Market Hall. It is also great to see the machines at work to improve the coastal defences in Aberaeron.
“Lampeter’s Wellbeing Centre was opened earlier in the year, and it’s the first of its kind in the county, which provides services to improve the mental, social and physical health of individuals, all under one roof. We will now look to open a second wellbeing centre in Cardigan. We are also proud to provide free school meals to all pupils in Year 6 and under, ensuring that we are well ahead of the Welsh Government’s target.”
Affordable housing was another issue raised by Cllr Davies.
“Among other news, we have launched the innovative Ceredigion Community Housing Scheme to support people to access affordable housing in the county, and grants are available to renovate empty properties. If these matters are of interest or affect you, please get in touch with us.”
The economic challenge facing Ceredigion in the next financial year, as faced by other Welsh councils, was also highlighted by Cllr Davies.
“As we look ahead to 2024, the financial picture is extremely challenging, even more so than this time last year.
“We are currently anticipating a highly significant budget shortfall for 2024-25, and whilst we continue to explore innovative ways to deliver the services that make us proud to live in Ceredigion, there will nevertheless be some incredibly difficult decisions to be taken in the new year.
“However, there are plenty of events to look forward to during the year.
“Ceredigion will be the feature county at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in 2024 and we look forward to supporting all the associated events. And before the end of the year, a leg of the European Rally championship will be held in Ceredigion, bringing a significant financial boost to our economy.
“I would like to sincerely thank the elected members and council staff for their work over the past year to maintain and provide quality services to Ceredigion residents. I hope you, the people of Ceredigion, will have a well-deserved break over the festive period. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to explore the county and walk the Coastal Path which celebrated its 15th birthday in 2023.
“Yes, there are many things to be proud of in Ceredigion.
“Best wishes to you over the festive period and a happy new year for 2024.”