Swansea Labour has slammed opposition parties for trying to dismantle their investment programme including funding teachers’ pay, social care and support for local communities.
The ruling Labour group also accused the opposition of measures that would have threatened the future of the Wales National Airshow, put Christmas celebrations in the city in jeopardy and deliver an £8m bid blow to the local economy.
Council leader Rob Stewart blamed the Conservative Party, Independents, the Uplands Party and Lib Dems for their reckless approach at the full council meeting.
“The approach of the opposition has to be seriously questioned. They voted down paying our teachers the full pay award – some £3.7m; they wanted to rule out £6m in social care investment and £720,000 of investment in local communities,” said Cllr Stewart.
“They also voted against providing a better library services for deprived areas of the city. In doing so they also voted to try to remove money from events and cultural services which would have cancelled the Wales National Airshow, cancelled Christmas in the city and damaged the local economy by over £8m.
“How can the opposition think this was a reasonable approach to take?”
Councillors agreed to fully fund the teachers’ pay rise and millions of pounds of necessary investment in social care despite continued cuts to local government funding.
Cllr Stewart said: “Every penny of extra council tax raised will go to fund education and social services. Despite continued government cuts we intend to spend around £1.6m a day on the vital services that people rely on every day.
He added: “In the last nine years, the Westminster Government’s age of austerity has cut more than £1bn from local government services in Wales. Governments have unfairly passed costs to local taxpayers. We’ve made it very clear that if government funding local services fairly then we would need to raise less from Council tax.”
On funding for social care Cllr Mark Child, who has cabinet responsibility for Adult Social Services, said: “to vote against putting £6m desperately needed extra funds in to adult social services beggars belief.
“At a time when we are facing a growing number of older people who have extra needs such as frailty, dementia and isolation I welcome the Labour administration prioritising care, and simply don’t understand the oppositions reckless moves to jeopardise these extra funds being invested.”
On the teachers’ pay funding Cllr Jennifer Raynor, Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, said: “Despite the continued austerity agenda from the UK Government in Westminster I am pleased that Swansea Council will continue to support our excellent schools and their hard working teaching staff by finding extra money to fund pay increases for all school staff.
“Most Opposition councillors acknowledged the very challenging financial position all councils in Wales are facing due to cuts from London, yet they all still refused to back a budget that delivers for our schools.”
Cllr Raynor called on them to join Swansea Labour councillors and many headteachers and governing bodies in Swansea in demanding the UK Government address another major funding issue facing schools.
The Labour Party also ensured that the Local Development Plan (LDP) was passed at the budget meeting on Thursday. It effectively brought strong controls on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
“The controls mean areas that the likes of Uplands, St Thomas and Castle wards will now have protection,” said Cllr Stewart.
“The key point to is that these controls could have been put in place a year earlier if it was not for the misleading information put out by Peter May and the Uplands Party. Because of their actions around 80 HMO applications have gone through which would likely gave been stopped.
“This was ultimately a reckless and irresponsible approach by the Uplands Party.”