South West Wales

Neath Port Talbot council reveals £17m of planned cuts

Students in a library
Image caption It is hoped volunteers or community councils will run some libraries

Library closures, less school transport and reduced road gritting are among proposals by Neath Port Talbot council as it aims to save £17m next year.

Nine libraries could be closed, and council tax could be increased by 4.5%, the council has revealed.

About 20 staff face compulsory redundancy, but the local authority says it hopes nobody will be forced to leave.

The council blamed a reduction in funding from the UK government.

The budget cut proposals, which have yet to be approved, include:

  • Saving £240,000 in 2014-15 by closing libraries at Blaengwynfi, Briton Ferry, Cwmllynfell, Cymmer, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Resolven, Seven Sisters, Taibach, and Ystalyfera and handing them over to community councils or voluntary groups
  • Reducing school transport spending by £160,000 in 2014-15, £376,000 in 2015-16, £135,000 in 2016-17 and £55,000 in 2017-18
  • Cutting nursery places funding for three-year-olds by £233,000 in 2014-15, £132,000 in 2015-16 and then withdrawing it
  • Gritting 42% fewer roads in 2014-15 (saving £117,000)
  • Partial switch-off of 6,000 out of 18,000 lights in residential areas in the early hours in 2016-17 (saving £50,000)
  • Cutting £102,000 from school crossing patrols in 2014-15

There will be no cuts to children's services and there will be a 1% increase in education funding.

Capital projects, including rebuilding the Afan Lido leisure complex and the regeneration of Neath town centre, will receive £150m.

Council leader, Alun Thomas, said: "This has been the toughest budget yet by some distance, with a real terms reduction of 4.6% in our revenue."

He said "difficult cuts have been unavoidable," adding: "In the circumstances, the proposals represent the best balance possible between cuts, increases in fees and charges and sustaining jobs, thus protecting the vulnerable and our young people as best we can".

The Welsh government's draft budget last October revealed local government funding would be cut by 5.81% across Wales.

The Welsh government said it had faced a £1.7bn cut by the UK government since 2010.

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