Following the conclusion of the consultation period on its Phase One proposals, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet is considering its response to the present proposals to bridge the £70m funding gap it faces.
The Council’s Cabinet can confirm that it will and will make its final decision on them at a meeting in early January.
Deputy Leader of the Council, County Borough Councillor Paul Cannon QPM, has welcomed the engagement of the public, but has made it clear that any variations to the proposals, that have a cost, would need to be funded through tough choices in other areas.
The Council has received over 6,500 responses from the public and these responses are currently being considered.
Commenting on the consultation and the next stages of the decision process, Cllr Paul Cannon QPM, said: “We welcome the positive engagement of the public in these difficult decisions we are forced to consider because of the UK Government’s austerity measures.
“The Council faces a £70m budget gap over the next four years because of the spending cuts being imposed on Wales’ public sector.
“Like every other local authority in Wales, we have no alternative other than to dramatically reduce our expenditure in line with the drastic reduction in funding forced upon Wales by the UK Government.
“There are no alternatives to having to take tough decisions in these difficult financial times, and we fully appreciate the concerns in the responses we have received from the residents of Rhondda Cynon Taf on these particular proposals.
“When the Cabinet meets in early January to consider its decisions on the proposals consulted upon, we will take full consideration of the views which have been expressed by the public as part of the consultation process.
“Despite the efforts of our critics to mislead the public, we have always made it clear that the options which we consulted upon were only proposals, and that the consultation was a meaningful process because we want to take due regard of the views of the public.
“We fully recognise that tough decisions cannot be avoided, particularly in relation to our non-protected services as a result of the severity of the Government’s austerity measures.
“We have no alternative than to look at these services and other areas where we currently provide to a level above the statutory requirement, nursery education being an example of this.
“Where possible however, within the very limited resources we have available, we will consider carefully any valid points which have been expressed during the consultation process.
“Important changes may be considered by Cabinet when we revisit these matters at our Cabinet meeting in January. However, in these difficult financial times, other tough choices will inevitably be necessary to pay for any changes in relation to the proposals we originally consulted upon, if the proposed level of saving is not reached.
“A £70m reduction in spending needs to be achieved over the next four years and Councillors have no option other than to seek significant expenditure reductions which deliver a balanced budget in each financial year and this means tough and inevitably unpopular decisions as a result.”
In January, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council will also consider further proposals, which, if agreed by Cabinet, will be consulted upon as Phase Two of the service change process.