CONWY Council cannot afford to properly maintain car park and roads, and doesn’t have the money to cut back hedges.
The councillor responsible for such activity said the council’s pause on spending means vandalised public toilets will close and road markings will be left unpainted.
There will also be no investment in new street lighting or community skips.
Speaking at a recent finance and resources scrutiny committee, cabinet member for environment, roads, and facilities (ERF) Cllr Goronwy Edwards gave a list of cuts the council had made this financial year.
The cutbacks have followed the authority upping council tax by 9.9%, the highest rise in Wales, slashing service budgets by 10% – with even schools having to make 5% cuts – and predicting more cuts to come next year.
Conwy expects to overspend this year by several million pounds and is facing a £24.5m black hole next year.
Asked by Cllr Harry Saville for how cutbacks were affecting Conwy’s ERF department, Cllr Edwards gave a startling account of just how much the council had reined in its spending.
“I think it’s very helpful that we are realising the situation that we are in,” he said whilst discussing the budget.
“Cllr Harry (Saville) asked in a previous scrutiny committee about the effects of some of the in-year pauses we put on spend.
“And I can just give those answers to Harry now.
“As far as ERF – and we had 10% savings last year – we also have this pause on spend.
“The pause on spend will mean that car park maintenance will not be going ahead this year; a reduction in the highway maintenance is an ongoing delay; undertaking more in-depth drainage is (not) going on; routine road markings are not being refurbished.
“Repairs are not being done to meet the threshold; second cycle (path) respraying is not going ahead; traffic regulation orders, no new regulations are being processed; no new signs and line requests, even though these are very much requested by members.
“No requests for new street lighting; no purchasing of new additional automatic traffic counters; ground maintenance reduction in winter maintenance schedules, for example hedge cutting, cutting back on public rights of way; repairs to stiles, kissing gates; where possible email correspondence and not posting; reducing in printing; staff instructed to use pool cars instead of using their own cars, and claiming casual user allowance.
“Vandalised play equipment is not being repaired; not repairing vandalism in toilets, resulting in the closure of toilets; no new bookings for community skips.”
He added: “That is the reality of what we have to do (to make) in-year savings, so they do come with consequences.
“As long as members realise when we go into the budget, they will come with consequences, and our residents will be holding us to task for that.”
Cllr Cheryl Carlise then said: “Did you say cutting back on work on drainage?”
Cllr Edwards responded: “That is the reality.
“We are having to pause on looking at works to our culverts and all these things which are critical.
“We’ve seen the effects of storm Babet.
“We will respond wherever we can, and obviously any emergency will be dealt with, but it does mean that essential work is being left and (not) carried out in the way that I would like it, and certainly I haven’t gone into this service or taken on this portfolio to reduce the services that our residents so much value.”
Cllr Mandy Hawkins then asked: “You are going to be cutting back on drainage works and culverts.
“With the recent flooding, wouldn’t it be better to cut back on investing, buying more (new) recycling trucks?
“With all the money you are spending on the trucks and actually putting it into the drainage to make sure that they are not being blocked.”
Cllr Goronwy said the vehicles used for bins and recycling were 10 to 15 years old and becoming dangerous.
“If we didn’t empty the bins and recycling, I’m sure there would be a massive uproar,” he said.