Swansea Council leader David Phillips writes for the South Wales Evening Post

30Jan2014
Swansea Council leader David Phillips writes for the South Wales Evening Post
By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 30, 2014
http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Swansea-Council-leader-David-Phillips-writes/story-20525883-detail/story.html

MY colleagues and I were elected to run Swansea Council in 2012, on a pledge that “community engagement … empowering local communities, enabling their voices to be heard”, would be at the heart of what we did.

And that is what we put into practise with the Sustainable Swansea — fit for the future consultation — asking residents, staff, businesses, the voluntary sector and partner organisations what you wanted, and then listening to and considering your answers.

If we scroll back to September last year, you’ll remember that we were – and still are — looking at having to make savings of £26-plus million this year and a total of £45m over the next couple of years.

For the first time since devolution, councils like ours are staring at a real-terms reduction in funding. It is a huge challenge. It means we have to think differently, do things differently and do different things.

Unlike some councils we saw this challenge as an opportunity. We shared with you our ideas about what the future shape of services might be. Some people — not all — doubted whether it was an open and honest effort to listen.

But it was and your feedback has influenced the development of our budget to help us achieve the smarter, leaner and more efficient Council people wanted to see in the future.  More…

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Protests take place at first Swansea Council public budget consultation

20 DEC 2013
Protests take place at first Swansea Council public budget consultation by Amy Downward
From: South Wales Evening Post; Friday December 20, 2013
http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Protests-place-Swansea-Council-public-budget/story-20348863-detail/story.html
THE first of a series of public consultations on Swansea Council proposals attracted more than 20 residents on Thursday night.  Cabinet members and senior officers were on hand at a public drop-in session at West Cross Community Centre to discuss proposals about libraries, culture and tourism.  It was the first of four themed sessions being staged over the next few weeks about proposals aimed at making £45m in budget savings over the next three years.  Residents and council members attended the consultation to protest against the proposed changes to Pennard Library.  Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West, said:  “This protest shows the depth of feeling I am getting from people about these plans.  “I hope that this display of people power convinces cabinet members to go back to the drawing board and think in greater detail about how they make reductions.”

Councillor Nick Bradley, cabinet member for regeneration, said:   “It was great to see so many people there taking an interest.  “I wanted to reassure people that no decisions on any proposals have been made. “What we want to do is listen to our residents and take their views into account first.”   He said Thursday’s drop-in session showed residents value the services the council provides and also understand the financial challenges are not of its making.  He said: “There were some valuable discussions, particularly about libraries and Pennard Library. “My message to residents of Pennard is that if they are interested in taking over the management of library services in their community we want to work with them to see what can be achieved.  “We haven’t made any decisions and we aren’t proposing to reduce non-statutory services like many other councils have done; we’re aiming to create a smarter, leaner and more efficient council.  “If these proposals are approved we’ll be spending £1.5m a day in Swansea supporting communities and the local economy.”

Three further public drop-in sessions on adult services, education and young people and community and transport issues are planned for early in the New Year.

There will also be meetings with key stakeholder groups prior to the consultation closing date on January 22.

Senior managers at Swansea Council are also engaging with trades unions and staff on the savings proposals.

It is anticipated the final decisions on the proposals will be made when cabinet reports to a meeting of full council in February.

Online consultation was launched last week at www.swansea.gov.uk/sustainableswansea