Page last updated at 05:47 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 06:47 UK

Councils warn about rising bills

Street light (library picture)
Councils are looking at switching off street lights in order to save money

Welsh councils have warned their energy bills are set to almost double and that the price could be met by the taxpayer.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said energy and fuel price rises means authorities will see bills go up by 100% in the next year.

It said costs will be met via energy savings, impacting on services, with the public ultimately paying the price.

It has asked the Welsh Assembly Government to consider these pressures when it puts together its draft budget.

The assembly government is due to put together its financial plans for local authorities next week and will have to take councils' spiralling energy costs into account.

Over the past 12 months petrol and diesel have effectively risen by 66% while some councils are facing a 100% increase in their gas and electricity bills.

WLGA chief executive Steve Thomas said these price rises were "pretty significant" for the average council.

Clearly you can't just expand the public purse and deliver an ever-expanding range of services with these prices coming in
Steve Thomas - WLGA

"Neath Port Talbot for example will see their gas price increase a million and a half pounds alone," he explained.

"We are talking about 15 councils in the south, and that's excluding the further cost in north Wales, seeing an increase in the gas and energy prices from 50m to a possible 100m in the next period - it's extreme."

According to the WLGA, most of the savings will have to be made through energy efficiency measures with some councils already turning off street lights as their first course of action.

Powys Council is looking at switching off a third of its 14,000 lights to reduce its electricity bill while Bridgend and Monmouthshire councils are looking at using low energy bulbs and dimming street lighting at certain times.

The WLGA said although frontline services will be protected while councils come to terms with the price rises, some services could be trimmed as these additional costs must be met somewhere.

"Clearly you can't just expand the public purse and deliver an ever-expanding range of services with these prices coming in," added Mr Thomas.

"What councils will have this year are very difficult budget choices. What comes out of the assembly draft budgets next week is key."


SEE ALSO
County considers lights turn-off
12 Sep 08 |  South West Wales
Big street lamp switch-off starts
10 Sep 08 |  Mid Wales

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