Council rethink needed to sustain services in rural Wales

A new report from the Auditor General for Wales has called for councils to think and act differently to address the challenges of reductions in public spending and poor infrastructure in rural Wales.

The publications claims that socio-economic change and the ongoing challenges of service delivery are adversely affecting the 600,000 or so people who live there. Adrian Crompton, the Auditor General for Wales, said that the loss of the cornerstone of village life, such as banks and post offices, and poor infrastructure are causing challenges and councils struggle to find sustainable ways to help.

The continued emphasis on delivering a ‘one-size fits all approach’ means councils are often and unintentionally creating and reinforcing rural inequality. To tackle this head on, authorities must make a reality of coordinated and integrated services to maximise both the use of resources and the quality of service delivery.

This includes better liaison and cooperation between public, private and voluntary sector providers and a call for public bodies to do more to equip citizens and communities to become more resilient and self-reliant as public finances continue to reduce.

Crompton said: “The shape of Wales is changing and it’s important that people who live in rural areas don’t get left behind. I urge public bodies to find collaborative and sustainable solutions to address rural inequality before an issue turns into a crisis. With an ageing population; a move to more online self-service and the changing nature of the high street, councils need to work with citizens, the third sector and with public sector partners to maximise their resources to better serve rural communities.”