Despite 2013 being a very difficult year for the council due to national and international economic issues it was nevertheless a year marked by considerable success. Among the council’s achievements were:
- the move into the new County Hall at Usk, delivered on time and on budget
- the opening of Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary School, setting new standards in design and facilities
- the launch of the widely welcomed new livestock market at Raglan
- the freezing of council tax at the 2012 level
- and the continued provision of services delivered more economically as a result of enterprise and changes in the way that the council operates.
Full credit must be given to the role that council employees have played in achieving these objectives.
2014 will be unprecedented in the challenges that the council faces in providing services. As your council, we are committed to doing everything we can to minimise the difficulties we will face and that includes involving residents in discussions that have already started with the holding of open meetings around the county to explain the issues and implications and to welcome suggestions; this process will continue as it is essential that our residents are involved in the outcomes. The council remains committed to its three key priorities – protection of the most vulnerable, education and skills development and regeneration and enterprise - as well as protecting as many other services as financially possible in line with keeping council tax bills at the lowest level possible. This will involve embracing new working practices, promoting our services and maximising our assets where we can to derive additional income for the county and leaving no stone unturned in the task of achieving best value for money; council members are hugely appreciative of the way that the management and staff have already committed themselves to these tasks.
Having pointed out the challenges in 2014, there are big opportunities such as the start of the 21st Century Schools programme within our comprehensive schools and I firmly believe that there is the determination and talent within the council, management and staff to successfully meet the foreseeable financial challenges and build for a secure future that embraces our values and aspirations.
We hope that all in Monmouthshire enjoyed a happy Christmas and wish all in our beautiful county a very happy New Year.