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Bridgend Council holds special meeting to address cuts in communities directorate 

Bridgend County Borough Council civic offices (Pic: LDRS)

BRIDGEND Council has held a special scrutiny meeting to discuss issues with major cuts in funding to the communities directorate over the last ten years.

The report heard by councillors highlighted some of the challenges currently faced by the directorate, which has seen its budget slashed by just over £11.7million or 38% in the last decade.

The communities directorate is responsible for a number of key council services in Bridgend such as highways, waste and recycling, planning, parks and cemetery services.

As well as reductions in certain services such as grass cutting, members also heard how the cumulative impact of cuts to staff  had been felt on statutory services since 2018, with some positions cut by as much as 95%.

These include the street cleansing team that was reduced from 85 to 42, traffic and transportation which was reduced from 11 to six, and the tourism team that was reduced from 22 posts to just one.

The report read: “The position that the communities directorate finds itself in in 2023, is very challenging. Not only in terms of budget pressures but in terms of staff resources, local community and political expectations and an increase in statutory work demands and pressures. Including, for example, the Welsh Government-mandated implementation of the 20mph speed restrictions and the 2030 Net Zero Carbon Public Sector Agenda.”

While setting out the impact of the £11.744m of savings taken from the budget, the report also sets out how the financial position of the communities directorate is unlikely to improve in the near future, with poor settlements projected nationally, and increased demands on other services.

Officers have now recommended a new 5-year target operating model be developed to align services with budgets and resources, facilitating communities so they can provide some solutions to the challenge, and prioritising the services it can offer.

The report read: “It is inevitable that our focus will have to be on delivering fewer services, but delivering them well, and these are likely to be the main statutory ones.”