Councils voice concern over service impacts of EU referendum
The WLGA fully recognises and respects the views of Welsh voters in the EU referendum and the decision to exit the European Union.
This is a seismic change in UK public policy, and time will be needed to fully digest all the implications. There are serious consequences for Welsh councils both as the largest employer in Wales and as delivers of local public services.
Councillor Bob Wellington CBE, Leader of the WLGA stated:
“Councils have strong links with Europe not least when it comes to the use of structural funds, workforce rights and legislation across key areas like food safety and air pollution. While we are signalling an end to our membership of the EU it is vital that promises made during the Referendum by the Leave campaign to protect regeneration funding in Wales are honoured. For City Regions, City Deals, the Metro and other big investment projects a new and dynamic UK regional policy will now be required.
“The WLGA wholeheartedly supports the call of the First Minister for a revision of the Barnett formula and a new financial settlement for Wales. We also fundamentally oppose any emergency budget that sets out further cuts and renewed austerity with councils once again bearing the strain.
“For local councils, it is also imperative that we do not jettison those positive elements of European legislation, particularly on the Environment, which are at the heart of service delivery. Much of the framework of legislation which protects our daily lives has stemmed from this source. The safety of our food, air quality, pollution controls and the product safety of the goods that we buy online or from the high street has been designed with UK input but passed in Brussels.
“There is an extremely important task to undertake over the next period, to ensure that the protections offered to the Welsh public by our councils are not undermined, by removing from the UK the fundamentals of European legislation which provide so much unseen public protection activity at the local level.
“As a responsible employer local government also has a duty to highlight potential difficulties for our workforce. For example, any prolonged collapse of the stock market will signal huge problems for the £13bn Local Government Pension Scheme in Wales which is fully funded and based on market investment. With an actuarial valuation due this year it is vital that confidence is returned as soon as possible, otherwise millions of pounds will be lost for the schemes pensioners.
“The WLGA recognises that it is early days and there is much to reflect upon. We fully supported the Remain campaign. We fully accept the judgement of the Welsh and UK electorate, and our councils will seek to work with all levels of government to deliver the best possible outcome for communities in Wales.”