Like probably all Newportonians, I want to see Pill Mill continue in its work, Gwent Schools Music to be generously funded, and all libraries, schools, and social centres to remain open. Yes, and free parking. I also loathe the idea of closing any residential homes for the elderly.
Several people have tweeted questions to me that are impossible to answer in 140 characters. The battle against cuts to essential services is one for MPs in Parliament. I am asked to support campaigns against specific cuts in Newport. By opposing CUT A you would appear to neglect CUT B or CUT C. That is not a choice that MPs can make.
The councillors have the full information that I cannot possibly have. They have the awful task of making the choices where the cuts should fall. I do not envy them. But it would not help if I interfered. They have their job and I have mine. It's the same with the AMs. They are responsible for the NHS and Education in Wales. Not me. When I was deputy leader of the council in Newport I had other responsibilities and the councillors would not have found intervention by the then MP helpful.
Of course, I am in contact with the councillors. But we all respect the sensible rule that the cobbler should stick to his last.
It's impossible to avoid all cuts. £8million has to be cut this year, more next year. It's a heartbreaking task for the Council who cannot duck their responsibilities. Indulging in the blame game or striking postures will not produce answers. I was a member of Newport and Gwent Councils from 1972 to 1982. Never in that period had the councils the duty to slash spending on a scale anywhere near the level that Newport face now.
MPs have no power or influence over these choices. The Council have this unenviable task. They are
consulting widely. Some decisions are better than others but cuts are unavoidable. The Tories in their four years borrowed £25million for work on roads and £15 million on Tredegar House. Constant negativity is always destructive. There can be no universal happy endings.
The only way to find fair solutions is through practical cooperation, mutual respect and a mature
willingness to compromise on the best solutions.