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Conwy North Wales Politics

Council accused of ‘damaging tourism’

Benches in West Shore are overgrown with weeds.

CONWY Council has been accused of “damaging tourism” after budget cuts left the county looking “a mess”.

Llandudno businessman and Colwyn Bay town councillor Phil Ashe says the council has neglected the county’s streets and parks, which he thinks will damage tourism and risk exacerbating flooding.

The cash-strapped local authority have cut back on cutting grass verges, reducing the frequency of the work from twice to just once a year.

The authority has also reduced weed killing from twice to once a year, and reduced grass cutting in open spaces.

Conwy increased council tax by 9.67% earlier this year whilst slashing service budgets by 10% – and even school funding by 5%.

Consequently, with the height of the tourist season approaching, areas of the county are said to look significantly less well kept than usual.

Cllr Ashe said: “The whole county is looking a state. There are weeds growing everywhere. There is grass growing everywhere.

“The council said they would save £180,000 when all they have done is not give people pride in where they live, which is disgusting to be honest.

“It is outrageous, especially when you look at what they are spending in the budget, like a waste transfer station in Llandudno Junction.

“They think that these little budget cuts here and there are going to balance their budget when the problems are that their spending is out of control.

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“And now people can’t even have pride in where they are living because of the state of the place.

“They are not doing community skips anymore. Cutting £180,000 has made the place look a lot worse than it did a year ago.

“The bottom estate in Llandudno is just being left. I grew up on the bottom estate, and it was never like that.

“I go there now, and it looks rundown. The grass is all over the place. Kids can’t even play on the green anymore.

“It is increasing allergens to people, increasing pests and rodents. We had floods last year and the drains were blocked.

“If we have floods in the winter this year, it is going to be 10 times worse because of all the grass not being cut and all the leaves they are not picking up and all the weeds. It is going to cause even bigger issues, all for the sake of saving £180,000. It is damaging tourism.”

He added: “The council are spending £10m on electric bin wagons, and they are all doing it in one year. They could have phased it in over five years.

“Council tax rose by 9.67%.

“Their savings amount to £180,000. By keeping the grass cut, council tax would have risen to 9.8%, and council tax should not be that high anyway.

“But when you look at the business cases and see what they are wasting elsewhere, they could have easily saved that £180,000 elsewhere so council tax didn’t even have to go up.

“They are just making decisions, the councillors, to pacify the officers without going into depth and what effect it will have long term.

“Conwy is the last budget of all the councils to be done. It is all last minute.“

A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council said the electric bin wagons were part paid for by a Welsh Government grant.

She said: “As with all councils, Conwy County Council must identify every opportunity to use its money more effectively to drive down costs in order to comply with our statutory obligation to balance the budgets.

“Unfortunately, this can result in a reduction in the level of services being delivered.

“Every council service had to find significant financial savings for 2024/25, and the proposals were presented to the full council on 29 February.

“The 55 councillors that serve on Conwy County Borough Council knew that they would have to make some very difficult decisions to set the 2024/25 budget to make sure that the limited resources were prioritised and money is spent where it is needed most in supporting our most vulnerable residents.”

She added: “For 2024/25, to fund £180K of spending (on anything) would have required a further increase in Council Tax of 0.25%.

“Conwy County Council regularly explores opportunities to work in collaboration with town and community councils to deliver services.”