Local government representatives from Wales will today join partners from across the EU Member States to help shape a response to growing public sector austerity.
Bringing together practitioners and politicians from across the EU regions, the event aims to provide examples of how local government in other EU countries is adapting services to meet community need in a time of severe financial austerity.
Delegates from Wales will have a vital opportunity to hear practical ideas for establishing new ways of delivering services, as well as developing new financial and governance arrangements to help them respond to local government’s growing financial crisis.
Cllr Bob Bright (Newport), WLGA European Affairs Spokesperson and EU Committee of the Regions Member said:
“As a Welsh council Leader but also as a member of both the Committee of the Regions, the EU’s Assembly for Regional and Local Representatives and the CEMR, the pan-European local government association, my message is simple: we cannot tackle this financial challenge in isolation.
“Wales is a committed partner of the European Union and it is vitally important that we come together for event like this to discuss shared problems and develop shared solutions. We are very good in Wales at sharing best practice and ideas between local authorities, but the new financial reality we are now facing means we must be better at thinking outside of Wales and looking to our European local government partners for new approaches to delivering public services and adapting to financial austerity.”
Cllr Ronnie Hughes (Conwy), WLGA European Affairs Deputy Spokesperson said:
“This event offers a timely and extremely important opportunity for local government in Wales to learn from its European partners and develop innovative new ways of delivering services at a time of significantly reduced financial resources.
“Councils in Wales have only recently been told that their funding will be cut by over £150million in the next financial year, and with councils being expected to shoulder a disproportionate share of the austerity burden in Wales, all indications suggest our local public services could face a £900million shortfall by 2018. It is vitally important that we seek to learn as much as possible from our counterparts on how to respond effectively to this challenge.”
The event takes place during the European Week of Regions and Cities 2014, the key week in the EU calendar for regional and local government.