Cllr Aled Davies is Leader of the Conservative Group on Powys County Council.
Powys County Council is run and always has been run by an Independent Group/ Non-Political Group coalition which currently holds 45 of the 73 single member wards. In these times of financial stress, the membership of the ruling groups has become fractious and tired, devoid of ideas and failing to deliver any long term vision for the residents of Powys.
Powys CC’s record on service delivery, particularly in education, adult social services and highways, has been poor over the last five years. Over half of the current Cabinet will not be standing for re-election in May which creates real opportunities for a new Council to accept the challenge of change and to be positive and clear about what the Council can deliver.
Regeneration of the local economy is vital as there is a long term trend of an aging and declining population. Stronger east/west links need to be built to connect with the Midlands. The Council must be a catalyst not a road block to make Powys an attractive place to invest, work and live.
Powys has failed to keep pace with the ever-changing world of education; for instance, of the schools in special measure across Wales almost half are here in Powys. Clear, decisive action and investment is needed to raise the performance of the poorest schools to equal the best in Powys.
A clear five year medium term financial plan needs to be established to give clarity to the Council’s direction of travel. Cost of service delivery needs to be truly understood so that political choices can be made on a sound basis. The Council needs to be honest about where services cannot be afforded as there is nothing worse than watching a service shrivel and fail over a number of years.
Powys CC is coterminous with Powys Local Health Board which offers great opportunities. The two bodies are working together and this is developing but not rapidly enough. Both organisations have a tendency to be overly protective of their budget and both organisations also have huge assets which need to be used to deliver far better outcomes for our residents. Bravery is needed and unnecessary controls relinquished.
A Welsh Conservative Group was only established on Powys CC two elections ago. At the last Council elections our number of councillors was unchanged on what was a bad night for the Conservatives across the country but prospects are much better this time. The hope is to field between 40 and 50 candidates across the vast expanse of Powys (quarter of the landmass of Wales) and we are very encouraged by the high calibre and commitment of our existing Councillors and new Council Candidates.
The Welsh Conservative Group’s aim is to be the largest on the Council on May 5th and then to build coalitions and deliver change. We want a Council that can transform itself from being seen as an interfering, bureaucratic and distant organization to a much valued support service that enables excellent services to be delivered to all of our residents from Ystradgynlais in the south across the 115 miles of hills and valleys to Llansilin in the north.