The Welsh Labour Government’s First Minister Carwyn Jones may have thrown in the towel – and be about to leave the ring – but he hasn’t able to resist taking another swipe at the Conservative-run Vale of Glamorgan Council.
In “First Minister’s Questions”, Jones was attempting to parry an attack from the Conservatives about Labour’s grossly unfair formula for the funding for local authorities – an arrangement which advantages Labour councils and disadvantages the Vale.
Carwyn Jones had been asked by Janet Finch Saunders (Conservative AM for Aberconwy) about a review of the local government funding formula [i.e. the way in which the funding of local councils is calculated] .
She said that a number of local authorities in Wales were now calling for “equitable, longer-term budgets” – and quoted the Vale of Glamorgan Council as saying that “there is a well-made case for changes to the formula”.
Ms Finch Saunders also fired a barb at Alun Davies – the Welsh Labour Government’s Minister for Local Government – saying he had received a volume of correspondence from local councils – but had taken no notice of it .Looking across the chamber at Alun Davies – lolling in his seat – she said “He isn’t listening now – he’s actually preferring to completely ignore the question and he is the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government !”
She urged Carwyn Jones – who had already been referred to by the Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies as a “lame duck“- to speak to the aforesaid Local Government Minister on behalf of local councils in Wales “to ensure there is a more sustainable funding model and formula going forward. It’s the very least our local authorities deserve”
This gutsy display from Ms Finch Saunders brought forth from Carwyn Jones a predictable, question-dodging attack. He said “I think the Vale of Glamorgan need to explain why they spend less on education than anywhere else in Wales – per head. That is under her party – and that is something that they will have to explain to their electorate”.
Carwyn Jones claimed “We fund local authorities at a far higher level than would be the case if they were in England. We look to protect them as far as we can but it is inevitable that there will be difficulties and a squeeze on local authorities because we ourselves are being squeezed”
[ PDN Note: In fact the Vale of Glamorgan’s financial problems stem entirely from the fact that it receives the lowest allocation of funding from the Welsh Labour Government of any local authority in Wales bar one, and ranks No 21 out of the 22 local authorities in Wales in terms of cash received from the Welsh Government. It means taxpayers in the Vale of Glamorgan are subsidising most of the other councils in Wales]