The Executive Board of Carmarthenshire County Council has published proposals for budgetary cuts for the next three years, and they make for extremely grim reading. The report can be found here (with thanks to Caebrwyn for digging it out).
For some time now council leaders have been warning about the escalating cost of social care provision, and that combined with cuts in central government grants and Carmarthenshire's obsessions with prestige development schemes and various pet white elephants mean that the elderly, the disabled, children, motorists, parents struggling to make ends meet, the Welsh language - in fact everyone in the county with a few privileged exceptions will now have to pay a high price indeed for the reign of Meryl Gravell, Kevin Madge and Mark James.
The report is very poorly formatted, and you need to scroll quite a long way down to find the detail.
What the detail shows is not just council job cuts across all departments, except of course for the top brass, but a long litany of cuts to all kinds of services along with hikes in charges for just about everything from transport, school dinners and car parking to rent increases on homes, shops, farms and anything else owned by the council.
School dinners will, the report admits, be the most expensive in Wales, with above inflation increases and a reduction in choice in Year 1, to be followed by more rationalisation and "regionalisation" in following years. Here are a few more turkey twizzlers, in the council's own words:
Childcare for children on the at risk register in Carmarthen:
(3 fte staff) A centre in Carmarthen offering support and childcare to children on the child protection register and/or are vulnerable Children will be less protected and one in 4 childcare places bought back from the private sector - will result in a much poorer service to the most vulnerable families in Carmarthen town and potentially additional care proceedings as children at risk receive less support and monitoring. (saving just £30k over three years).
Reduction in holiday schemes for breaks for children with disabilities (saving of £66k over two years)
Close one Respite Home with up to 30 children with disabilities no longer having respite care. In the long term may result in greater family breakdown and an increase in costs as children become looked after permanently at an earlier stage (saving of £375k).
The list goes on and on - reductions in spending on coastal defences and drainage; reductions in basic bridge maintenance; reductions in basic road maintenance schedules; a 50% cut in grants to Mentrau Iaith; cuts in youth club provision (already very poor); massive cuts in adult education schemes; cuts and outsourcing in the care of people with mental health problems, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, etc.
Only last week councillors voted through a further £270,000 of financial support to Towy Community Church's bowling alley project, and the capital budget shows continued high spending on a whole range of council office developments and refurbishment schemes. Money continues to flow to the Scarlets in Llanelli.
Pastor Mark Bennett was understandably very pleased to secure the additional funding for his project; I wonder if he and his congregation will be sparing a thought for the vulnerable children, the frail and the disabled who face a very bleak future now as work commences on the bowling alley, and later the subsidised new church premises.
Shame on the councillors who voted it through.
Shame on the Labour group and its discredited and shambolic leader, Kevin Madge, for continuing to prop up his Tory Independent chums. Most of the Labour group have travelled so far from their roots that they have taken on a distinctly blue tinge. Without Kevin Madge's unswerving support for Meryl and Mark, things would have looked very different.
Wake up Plaid Cymru. For too long you have stood wringing your hands from the sidelines, and too often you have voted along with the Independent/Labour coalition. It is time to set out a different vision for the county.
Of course every local authority is facing cuts, and some will emerge with more credit than others. Anti-democratic, officer dominated, bureaucratic, arrogant and wasteful Carmarthenshire will not be one of them.