doc

CAERPHILLY council committee members met tonight to discuss how millions of pounds worth of cuts to the authority’s budget will be made over the next three years.

Proposals to shut down council leisure centres, public toilets, bowling greens, and to cut floral displays were all discussed at a special meeting of the regeneration and environment scrutiny committee.

No decisions were taken and further discussions will take place later this year before recommendations are passed on to the council’s cabinet for a final decision.

As part of its medium term financial plan, the council must make savings of £6.5 million for the 2015/16 financial year and £6.9 million in 2016/17.

Sandra Aspinall, acting deputy chief executive at the council, said it would be “impossible” to make cuts without having to make redundancies.

But the council faces the prospect of being able to save £1.2 million for its part in the Prosiect Gwyrdd waste contract, a joint venture with neighbouring authorities, as savings can be brought forward to 2015/16.

Officers compiled a list of potential savings, including the unlikely outcome of closing all 10 of the authority’s leisure centres, or giving over some to be run by nearby schools, which could save an additional £1.7 million.

Mark Williams, the report’s author and head of community and leisure services, told members: “As an authority we cannot continue to provide the amount of facilities we currently provide. Doing nothing is not an option.”

He suggested the ageing buildings and their increasing maintenance costs will not be able to be sustained at the current rate.

Talks are already underway to give over the running of Cwmcarn leisure centre to Cwmcarn High School, as is the current arrangement, on a permanent basis.

The potential impact of shutting down recycling centres, including the Full Moon site in Cross Keys, was also put to councillors. They previously rejected plans to sell off the centres as part of cuts considered for 2014/15.

Plans to close some of the six civic amenities sites were met with concern from councillors who feared there would be an increase in fly-tipping by residents.

Other plans included reducing the number of the council’s pedestrian sweepers from four to three, which could save £14,000, and charging for replacement recycling containers.

Cleaning on bank holidays could also be reduced, while closing public toilets in Risca and Blackwood could save £16,000, although the report acknowledged the closure of three toilets across the county borough in 2014/15 “caused much controversy”.

Closure of six of the council’s 21 bowling greens with the lowest membership is another possible plan to save a total of £100,000 over two years. The plan, including one in Oakdale, could close three in 2015-16 and three in 2016-17.