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Torfaen council leader backs Labour’s economic plans

Anthony Hunt is the Labour leader of Torfaen County Borough Council and ward member for Panteg.

A GWENT council leader who called for a change in policy on public spending earlier this year has said he is backing Labour’s economic plans. 

Councillor Anthony Hunt, who is the Labour leader of Torfaen Borough Council, was speaking after attending the party’s general election launch in Wales in Abergavenny. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer has been cautious on spending commitments but has said a clampdown on tax avoidance and closing loopholes for “non dom higher earners” who, he said, don’t pay any tax in the UK and taxes on private school fees would deliver additional cash to tackle NHS waiting lists and extra teachers. 

However the party’s first of six steps to change in government commits it to “tough spending rules” and it has ruled out a range of tax cuts – leaving it little room to find additional spending power though the party says it intends growing the economy. 

In February, when Torfaen’s ruling Labour cabinet agreed its budget, Cllr Hunt criticised cuts by the Conservative government in Westminster which he said had passed the point of “damaging” public services and “the fabric of our communities”. 

He said: “A change in macroeconomic policy at UK Treasury level is especially necessary, I think, to give public services, those who rely on them and those who work in them a fairer future.” 

Following Labour’s campaign launch Cllr Hunt said he supported the position set out by the UK Labour leader, which falls short of an overhaul of the UK economic policy he had called for. 

The Panteg councillor said: “I believe we’re going to get change and sensible grown up government that believes in growing the economy and investing in public services. 

“I don’t believe any government is able to change the world overnight but I believe we’ll have a breath of fresh air and have a prime minister that listens, believes in investing in public services and believes in devolution.” 

He said he considered Labour’s caution on economic policy to be a case of “being honest” rather than making promises on spending that couldn’t be delivered and he said he considered investment in schools, the NHS and social care to be his priorities. 

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Cllr Hunt – who chair’s Welsh Labour’s ruling national executive – described Labour’s promises made on devolved policy areas, which are cutting waiting lists and more teachers as the “complexities of devolution”. 

Leader Keir Starmer said additional teachers would be a matter for the Welsh Government and that his promise was on additional money.

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