Cardiff, like all Councils across the UK, is facing some big financial challenges. Our useful budget challenge video below gives you an overview of the scale of the challenge facing the City Council – including the need to meet a shortfall of around £115m over the next 3 years.
The Welsh Government has announced its draft budget for 2016/17. Encouragingly, our budget savings will not be as severe as expected, and we are working through the detail of the budget to understand what this means for Cardiff. It should be noted that this settlement is provisional and is of course only for the next year. The Welsh Government will announce its budget each year so the amount we need to save could vary in coming years. It is clear that Welsh Government has tried to protect Local Government and that is welcome indeed.
We now need to build on this and have a frank conversation about how we can sustain services. We can use the powers available to us through devolution to chart a different path from England, where UK Government cuts have seen local councils bear the brunt of the austerity agenda. People appreciate and want good public services; they are the glue that binds our communities and we must do what we can to protect them.
A number of proposals have been put forward on how we can make savings in 2016/17 and we want your feedback on these, whether via our online survey or by attending one of our events across the city. Details on how you can have your say can be found on the Council’s budget webpages.
Consultation will take place until 12th January and I’d encourage you to have your say before a budget is agreed at the meeting of the Full Council in February.
I had the privilege of speaking at Climate Change: Commitment to Action, hosted by the Climate Change Commission for Wales. This event, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, brought together Welsh politicians and representatives from industry, education and community groups.
Wales’s many environmental achievements – including high levels of recycling and energy efficiency – were recognised and we discussed how Welsh and world cities have a key role to play in helping states meet climate change commitments.
I talked about how our vision to create Europe’s most liveable capital city ties in with the environmental challenges we face. The City of Cardiff Council’s strategies include aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 35% by 2022, protecting our green belt and generating our own energy, for example through the Radyr Weir hydro-electric scheme.
It was great to be reminded of the serious commitment there is here in Wales to addressing climate change and maintaining a sustainable environment for future generations.
The Cabinet recently approved plans for improvements to education in Cardiff. Following consultations and reports, proposals were agreed for future school provision in Butetown, Canton, Grangetown and Riverside, Adamsdown and Splott, and Caerau and Ely. This follows a really successful year for education in the city and is a massive investment in the future of our schools and young people in the city, in line with the Council’s priority of better education and skills for all.
The approved schemes, representing an investment of over £58m, include:
•A newly built secondary school for the West of the city, serving the communities in and around Caerau and Ely, built on the current Glyn Derw High School site and opening from September 2018
•Additional Welsh-medium and English-medium primary provision for areas in and around Butetown, Canton, Grangetown and Riverside from September 2017
•Additional Welsh-medium and English-medium primary provision for areas in and around Adamsdown and Splott from September 2017
Primary provision will be increased through a combination of building new schools and expansion of existing sites.
These proposed developments will now be put through the planning process. Once approved they should mean modern, high quality educational facilities for both English and Welsh medium schools across the city and represent an important investment in the city’s future.