The plan to transform Powys County Council’s services is being kept under wraps, for now.
At a meeting of the council’s Finance Panel on Friday, April 28, committee members had expected to receive an update on how the project for “reimagining” Powys services is taking shape.
This follows a workshop for councillors which concentrated on the financial aspects of reimagining the council.
Conservative group leader and Finance Panel chairman, Cllr Aled Davies said: “I had thought we’d have something more substantial today, I understand the cabinet don’t think it’s ready to for us to see yet.”
He added that he’s been “disappointed” with the workshop.
Cllr Davies said: “I was really hoping for a bit of blue sky thinking, but it was a reiteration of all the stuff we already know about the pressures on the council.
“I’m sure a lot of work going on behind the scenes, but to date I still haven’t seen that progress, and we need that reassurance.”
Cllr Davies reminded finance portfolio holder, Labour’s Cllr David Thomas that the clock is ticking and that the “bones” of next year’s budget need to be in place by the end of August.
Finance portfolio holder, Labour’s Cllr David Thomas said: “It’s not a case of not wanting you to see it, the report is not ready yet.”
Head of finance, Jane Thomas told panel members that work at this stage needs to focus on the “overarching principles” of reimagining Powys and how it would help the council’s finances “bridge the gap” in the medium term financial plan.
Ms Thomas said: “This is a whole council approach, and we need to take all members on that journey with us.”
Leader of the Independents for Powys group, Cllr Jeremy Pugh believes there is a need to look back over the last 20 years to understand the historic financial issues Powys has faced that has seen the need for continued savings and cuts.
During the last decade over £100 million has been cut from the council’s budget.
Cllr Pugh said: “Until we learn and understand where we come from, and have a clear vision of where we go, we are just going to go round in circles.”
Cllr Thomas explained that as the “program develops” there will be parts that can be implemented “far quicker” than other which would show improvements.
Cllr Thomas stressed: “It’s not a quick fix.”
At a cabinet meeting in February this year, it was agreed to fund a trio of council officers to the tune of £300,000 for two years to work on the review of services.