Wrexham Council budget update
Wrexham Council has been working hard to find savings and efficiencies to bring its budget in line this year.
The financial situation for local authorities across Wales is extremely difficult at the moment.
However, by acting quickly the council has avoided a potential shortfall of around £23million by the end of the current financial year, with councillors and officers working hard to identify ways to meet the challenge.
Councillor Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, said: “Each and every department is making a contribution to finding these savings, and we’re working hard to do this with as little disruption to the public as possible.
“We’ve looked at lots of ideas and options, and although we don’t have all the answers yet, we’ve made huge progress.
“So far we’ve identified around half of the savings or efficiencies needed. It’s not a painless process, but we have no choice but to meet this challenge head-on.”
Councillor David A Bithell, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “It’s sensible to take action sooner rather than later.
“It’s a difficult time for councils across Wales and we will have to make some tough decisions, but our goal is to continue to provide our local communities with the services they need.”
Charges for green waste collection have been increased to £35 per green bin per year, as previously publicised.
For many years we’ve helped fund PCSO (Police Community Safety Officer) provision in Wrexham City Centre, but we’ll no longer be able to do this because of the extremely difficult decisions we’re having to make.
However, we’ll continue to work extremely closely with police and other partners as always.
Recruitment for new or vacant jobs at the council has been paused, and is only being undertaken for key posts with approval from senior managers and lead members.
A review of the use of agency workers has also started.
Political discussions are ongoing about what we take forward in this area.
We’ll continue to work hard to reduce unnecessary travel by employees and promote other behaviours to help reduce our carbon footprint in Wrexham.
City of culture
The council remains fully committed to the bid for City of Culture 2029. The available budget as agreed at Executive Board in 2022 is £500k in 2023/24.
A programme of events is currently being devised with the Interim Board who will confirm their priorities at the next meeting in September.
Some of the upcoming events currently being organised for 2023/24 under the City of Culture branding include:
- Wal Goch (football festival)
- Comedy Festival
- St David’s Day
The Tour of Britain is also a significant event which contributes to the City of Culture programme, although this is funded from a different source.
We’ve worked extremely hard and have found a way to save around £19k on new library books, but we’ll still be spending around £130k on new books for our libraries this year, and have access to wider resources across the North Wales libraries consortium.
We’ll still receive hundreds of new books each month, including copies of all of the top 10 bestsellers in English fiction and non-Fiction, children’s books, audio books, large print books and Welsh language books.
We will also continue to buy and provide online e-books and e-audio books through our Borrowbox app.
Social care charges to the public will be largely unaffected and will continue to be implemented in line with the national policy for fees and charges for social care in Wales.
Some efficiencies will be made by making sure fees continue to be fairly implemented across Wrexham.
Car parking charges
Parking fees in our car parks are still under review and no political decision has been made yet. Discussions are ongoing.