The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition has achieved a balanced budget – on Newport City Council. The return to economic reality has been acknowldged in a report for the Wales Audit Office. Changing its school catering service has achieved an £800,000 saving for Newport . Also travel and subsistence rates have been reduced to yield savings of £150,000 to £300,000.
The report mentions lots of areas where further improvement are needed, from asset management to cutting sickness absenteeism. But it very much reads like a council that has turned the corner since the new administration was formed two years ago.
The political administration adopted a coalition agreement setting out 21 priorities for action. These priorities included immediate actions such as the reduction in the number of Cabinet
members and a reduction of special responsibility allowances. The Council has consolidated and prioritised the 21 priorities with other initiatives into 10 major projects. One of the projects
uses prudential borrowing to fund ‘Project 21’, a three-year £21 million improvement programme to address the backlog of roads maintenance in the city over the next three years.
Cllr Matthew Evans, the Council's Conservative leader says he is not complacent. There were "tough times ahead" but the Council was "moving in the right direction."