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Vale budget passes despite large Tory rebellion

Vale of Glamorgan Civic Offices

CONSERVATIVE-LED Vale of Glamorgan Council passed their budget despite a large Tory rebellion.

In total, 11 Conservatives abstained on the budget vote. While 10 were backbench councillors, the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure Gordon Kemp also refused to support the measures.

 

Ultimately, the council’s £226.098m 2019/20 budget was passed with support from the 14 Labour councillors who voted it down the previous week.

Leader of the Labour group in the Vale, Coun Neil Moore said in a statement: “We have agreed these reasonable priorities, because it would be irresponsibility not to agree a budget and by doing so I and my Labour colleagues will ensure that the council’s budget will be agreed.”

To get their support, the Conservative cabinet had to give in to many of Labour’s original demands.

This includes financially backing the 95a/b and X91 bus route, scrapping proposed on-street parking charges and funding to upgrade Victorian and older schools within the Vale.

The widespread Conservative opposition to their own budget signals a power shift in the Vale, as the Conservative cabinet relied on Labour rather than its own councillors to pass their proposals.

Many Conservatives were angered by the decision of the cabinet to close Llancarfan Primary School, despite former Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies being elected with a mandate to save it.

As the votes were cast and Tory abstentions piled up, Plaid Cymru’s Coun Ian Johnson shouted: “Is this a coup leader?”

Vale of Glamorgan Council leader John Thomas

At the meeting, Council Leader John Thomas said: “We have set a budget that will enable us to continue to deliver services befitting of the highest performing local authority in Wales.

“Demand for these services, especially education and social care, continue to rise along with the cost of delivering them.”

In the vote that followed the budget, the council also approved a 4.9 per cent hike in Council Tax to meet these spending requirements.

As he stood up to vote, Coun Gordon Kemp said: “The budget has been set and we must now fund it.”

This means that the final rate of tax for Band D properties in Barry will be £1560.44, including the police, social care and Barry Town Council precepts.

In the next financial year, Vale of Glamorgan Council have to make £3.7m in cuts due to rising social care costs and a £1.1m fall in funding from the Welsh Government.

This comes on top of £55m in savings the Vale has had to make since 2010.

In a survey of 1,000 Vale residents conducted by the council, 86 per cent of respondents did not know the scale of cuts facing the council.

However, when asked to prioritise how the council should meet the financial challenge, raising council tax was the most popular option – with a reduction in services being the least.

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