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Council scrutiny over potential budget cuts to services in Bridgend

CONCERNS were raised in a number of areas as Bridgend Council’s Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee met this week to give further feedback on the council’s 2023-24 budget proposals.

Bridgend Council had previously said it would need to save around £3.2 million next year, based on the proposed net budget of almost £320 million made available to them.

Their strategy will include an initial proposal for council tax to increase to 6% for 2023-24, along with potential cuts to a number of services used across the borough.

These could include cuts to highways, fly-tipping enforcement, and home to college transport, contributing to a sum of about £17.8 million, which the council says needs to be found over the next four years.

Of the main areas of concerns raised in the scrutiny meeting were the 2% proposed cuts to the school budget, which could result in the loss of one teacher in each of the larger primary schools across the borough, and up to five teachers in larger secondary schools over the four-year period.

Members of the committee questioned if the cost of making some staff redundant would outweigh any potential savings found, as well as expressing  concerns over the possibility of more schools ending up with a budget deficit as a result of the 2% reduction.

Safety issues were flagged over cuts of around £38,000 to RNLI lifeguard funding in Porthcawl, given the dangerous rip tides at Rest Bay and the increased popularity of water sports at this beach.

There were also concerns over a potential removal of funding from fly-tipping enforcement, as the committee expressed concern over the removal of the waste enforcement team and the impact this could have on tackling issues such as fly-tipping, which could result in an increase costs in cleaning further down the line.

The committee also recommend that a review be undertaken on  the Bridgend council’s reserves moving forward, particularly the historical reserves, with regards to how they are managed and operated.

The budget will now undergo further scrutiny before it is presented to full council on  March 1, 2023.