January 30, 2014
New Year has entered with quite a force for cabinet, where there has been some difficult discussion and decision-making around school reorganisation, Clwyd Leisure Ltd and the budget.
As an authority we are entering a very difficult phase on two major fronts: The financial situation and future settlements from Welsh Government are going to make it difficult to maintain the level of service that we have provided in the past and councillors will face some challenging decisions and options to consider in the budget setting process over the next few years.
The second issue, which will have to be carefully monitored, is around the options that arise from the Williams Report surrounding the reorganisation of Local Government. At present there are a lot of politics to consider at Cardiff Bay and we await the outcome of these deliberations – which hopefully will be clearer by April.
The important issue for me is that there is good understanding of the expected financial benefits – initial costs and efficiencies, that there is a clear time line for delivery and that local government is allowed to continue improving services for the benefit of residents. I am concerned that through reorganisation the accountability for democratic decisions is going further away from residents and that the real benefits are unknown.
Finally, I have, like many other people, made a New Years resolution: to lose weight, by adjusting my diet and better exercise. I have now purchased a turbo trainer for my bike to exercise indoors. The first few weeks were very uncomfortable from a sitting down perspective! I have asked many for advise on what could be more comfortable seating arrangement with no real answers. Have you any advice?
November 14, 2013
There have been some interesting issues debated over the last couple of months.
The settlement from the Welsh Government is extremely disappointing and Denbighshire is facing its worst level of cuts in history.
I have always believed in protecting frontline services, jobs and keeping the level of council tax as low as possible. Those three issues are now under severe pressure and while we have been planning for greater efficiencies, some of the proposed savings will have to be brought forward.
The funding that was originally intended for local government has been diverted to the health service. I sincerely hope that this is not just about filling a black hole and that we will see an improvement to the service. I also hope that the many people who supported the budget or allowed it to happen will not be sending letters complaining about our services if they are stopped or reduced.
The debate around local government reorganisation will be heating up over the next few weeks. Also the First Minister is planning to make a statement before Christmas. I do hope that there will be clear ownership of this as well as an understanding of the costs and clear timelines for implementation. I am not sure when the right time for this is with the present financial situation but I do hope that the residents of Denbighshire will not lose out on service delivery and that the new model and size of a new authority does not take the decision making further away from our communities.
Denbighshire is a fantastic authority for providing events and in recent months I have attended the Rhyl Air Show, Llangollen Food Festival and Denbighshire Excellence Awards, which rewards staff who have gone the extra mile in their work. I was also pleased to have attended the opening of Pont Y Ddraig at the Foyd Harbour, which was a £10m project for Rhyl. I was also invited to an open day at Ifor Williams Trailers in Cynwyd, which shows what diversity Denbighshire has to offer.
Finally, I had a sad experience when I decided to sell my cow, ‘Dora the Explorer’. I have written previously about her antics and wandering ways and ending up falling into my septic tank and I had to get the fire service to get her out!
I unloaded her at the local auction and left her in a pen on her own. As I drove away and looked back to see her for a final time, she didn’t take her eyes of me and looked pitiful as if she knew her destination and that image has stayed with me for a long time.