Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Time to get back round the table?

Posted on This is my truth on 7th July

At yesterday's Bevan Foundation conference on the second anniversary of the One Wales agreement Steve Thomas, the Chief Executive of the WLGA, suggested that the programme of Government for the next two years should be ripped up. "One Wales needs to be re-examined and re-prioritised", he said.

The Opposition spokesman on Local Government, Darran Millar, also lined up behind the proposal.

They argued that the scale of cuts facing WAG and Welsh Local Government over the next few years renders a programme agreed in a more benign economic climate redundant.

And given that some 60% of Welsh GDP is accounted for by the public sector, it is hard to argue that the projected cuts in public spending will have profound consequnces for the Assembly budget.

Nick Bourne repeated his demand for free prescriptions to be abolished - even though he conceded this would only bring savings of £13 Million after extra funding for stroke services and hospices are taken into account. It'll take a lot more than that to meet the cuts.

The Cabinet yesterday considered their transport priorities for the next five years. It'll be interesting to see if large capital pet projects survive. It has long been rumoured that the new M4 around Newport is for the chop (hardly a surprise with a price tag of £700 M), and the proposed new road to Cardiff airport will be hard to fund. It seems that days of big road schemes are over - unless they shave a few minutes off the journey to north Wales, of course.

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