A SCRUTINY committee of Caerphilly council met last night to decide on cuts to the authority’s services and facilities.
The council has to make savings of £14.53m in 2014/15 as a result of the UK Government’s austerity measures, with further additional savings of £6.54m for 2015/16 and £7.06m for 2016/17, amounting to £28.13m over the next three years.
Members of the authority’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee passed on a decision to close three public toilets, in Nelson, Newbridge and Fleur de Lys, saving £24,000.
The committee was told that a petition had been signed by 190 residents opposed to the potential closure of Caerphilly Leisure Centre’s cafe, but members decided they would go ahead with recommending its closure making a saving of £47,000 over two years. It is to be replaced by a “high-quality” vending machine.
But a decision to introduce charges for garden waste collection with a projected saving of £80,000 was withdrawn by members.
The future of Aber Valley Splash Pad in Senghenydd Park, which faced a cutback of £6,000, is to be reviewed again, after it was decided it would not be presented to the cabinet at this time.
Cllr John Taylor said claims the Splash Pad was installed against officers’ recommendations in 2006 were “totally misleading” and that relevant council meetings would show this.
He added: “We realise that the council has to save money but this would be a spiteful and mean cut targeted at the toddlers of the Aber Valley.
“They could make more of an annual saving if they cut the number of councillors in the council cabinet. Half the councils in Wales have fewer councillors in the cabinet than CCBC.”
It was also decided at a special meeting prior to the scrutiny committee that the council’s acting chief would remain in his post for a further six months.
A report presented to the council recommended Stuart Rosser’s contract should be extended because of the “complexity” surrounding an investigation into two of the council’s top officers.
It added: “The previous 12 months have been a period of considerable turmoil for the authority and the ability to employ an experienced Interim Chief Executive to provide leadership to the council has been invaluable.”
Mr Rosser took over as the authority’s interim chief executive on a six-month contract in July last year, following the suspension of Anthony O'Sullivan who was arrested on suspicion of fraud and misconduct in public office after huge pay rises were awarded to 21 senior officials at the authority.
Council leader Harry Andrews said Mr Rosser had done an “absolutely outstanding job” since taking up the post in July last year.
The decision to extend Mr Rosser’s contract will be subject to a review by the council prior to the expiry of the six month period at its scheduled meeting of the July 22, if the interim arrangements are still in place at this date.