Councils call for support on proposed environment bill duties

Local government has called for increased financial support, if it is to deliver on the aims of a new Environment Bill due to be voted on by Assembly Members today.

While welcoming the proposed bill as an important piece of legislation to tackle climate change and ensure Wales's natural resources are managed more sustainably, councils believe greater financial support should be provided for any new statutory duties.

Commenting on the proposed bill, Cllr Andrew Morgan (RCT), WLGA spokesperson for Environment, Sustainable Development and Waste said:

“The proposed Environment (Wales) Bill does offer a landmark piece of legislation designed to protect Wales’ natural resources, and local government welcomes many of its key proposals.

“In delivering services ranging from planning and sustainable waste management, to economic development and environmental regulation, local councils make a huge contribution to environmental protection in Wales.  We believe that any future growth in local government’s statutory duties has to be supported by the provision of much needed financial resources.

“As outlined in our ‘Localism 2016-21’ manifesto, the WLGA believes greater consideration should be given within the proposed bill to how the funds raised by Wales’ 5p plastic bag levy are allocated and spent.  As local councils are already working closely with other bodies who are in receipt of funding through the levy, the inclusion of local councils as potential recipients would go a long way in supporting local environment departments that have been subject to significant budget reductions over recent years.  The levy offers a clear way of supporting the local services that delivery of the proposed bill will rely upon.”


Local Government Policy Priorities for the National Assembly for Wales

Localism 2016-21

A plan for public services in Wales

The National Assembly for Wales elections in May 2016 come at a crucial time for public services in Wales.

The impact of ongoing austerity has seen £720m cut from local services since 2010, and it is anticipated that local councils will face a cumulative budget shortfall of over £940m by 2019.

The majority of unprotected council services now face being locked into a process of serious decline, with services vital to economic growth and the general well-being of communities having already experienced budget reductions of between 20% and 50%.

Local services provide the bedrock of safer, more cohesive and fairer communities. In this setting, councils are the key democratic bodies charged with the role of governing their locality and representing it. To do that they must have autonomy, financial security and control of their own localities. This is the essence of localism.

Our manifesto therefore calls for:

  • Clarity and commitment to partnership – clarity from the Welsh Government about the future of local government, its roles and responsibilities and clarity around the plans and timescales for reform. A restatement of a commitment to partnership governance in Wales is essential to ensure that local and national government are working together based on clear principles or mutual respect and understanding.
  • Fair and flexible funding – councils need greater fiscal autonomy and flexibility to respond to local needs and priorities. Specific grants should be transferred into the settlement, and the Welsh Government should commit to multiyear financial settlements so councils can plan more effectively and fully cost and fund any new national initiatives or legislation.
  • Commitment to the principle of Subsidiarity – the Welsh Government should commit to the European Charter of Local Self Government and the principle of subsidiarity, where the presumption is that power is transferred to the level of government closest to the people. The Welsh Government has a clear national strategic role, but councils want to see momentum behind the devolution of powers beyond Cardiff Bay to local government and to local communities.

Our manifesto sets out 40 key priorities for the next Welsh Government to address, which will help local authorities respond to local challenges and needs and contribute to the delivery of national ambitions and outcomes. More importantly they will help local councils deliver on the priorities of their own local communities.

For more information contact: Stuart Hodges

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