PROPOSALS to shut leisure centres, public toilets and bowling greens in Caerphilly county borough were all discussed at a special meeting on Wednesday.
Members of Caerphilly council’s regeneration and environment scrutiny committee met to discuss how millions of pounds worth of cuts to the authority’s budget will be made over the next three years. Sandra Aspinall, acting deputy chief executive at the council, said it would be “impossible” to make cuts without having to make redundancies.
No decisions were taken and further discussions will take place later this year before recommendations are passed on to the council’s cabinet.
The council must make savings of £6.5 million for the 2015/16 financial year and £6.9 million in 2016/17. But it 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.
Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix, who sits on the committee, stressed any decisions made would not be politically motivated and that it is too early to speculate where the cuts will be made or how drastic they will be.
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 recycling centres 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.