NEWPORT Stadium could become the latest casualty of proposed cuts by Newport City Council in a bid to save £50,000.
The stadium, former home of Newport County, has been at the heart of city sport for years, but could be scrapped or be taken over by a third party to help balance the 2014/15 budget.
In the report to the council’s scrutiny committee on the 2013/14 budget and a fiveyear middle-term financial plan, a list of possible savings proposes “closure of Newport Stadium – request operator expressions of interest”. The proposal is part of a list of proposed service investments and savings which the committee will be invited to comment on.
The report says: “The financial position, over the medium term and next year in particular is very challenging and there is little scope to stop any of the savings without an alternative being available.”
The proposal regarding the stadiumstates that the site is not currently staffed unless there is a booking that covers the staff costs, and savings will result from premises costs of a third party being responsible for all repairs and maintenance and also grounds maintenance.
It states there will also be an additional saving for Streetscene of not maintaining the pitch.
Comments presented by the scrutiny committee on the proposals will be included in formal consultation feedback to the cabinet.
A Newport council spokeswoman said: “Newport City Council is looking at all its services in the light of the need to make significant savings over the next five years.
“Work to explore the best way forward for the stadium will start during 2013. Any proposals regarding a change in operator will be included in the options for in-house or external delivery of sport and leisure facilities.”
Chief executive of Newport County Dave Boddy said that although the club was nowat Rodney Parade it still held an interest in the stadium.
He said he planed to meet the council on Wednesday to discuss issues which would likely include the stadium.
This proposal is the latest wave in a host of cuts proposed by the council to balance its books, as a result of central Government austerity measures.
Newport Stadium is not the only athletics arena in Gwent to hit the headlines.
Last week the Argus reported that Cwmbran Stadium has been banned from hosting competitions after UK Athletics decided to withdrawthe competition licence from Torfaen council because it fell below required safety levels.
Athletics’ future is in the balance, say the Harriers
KEN Goodyear, Secretary of Newport Harriers athletics club, who use the stadium as their base, said: “It would not be a very good legacy for Newport less than two years after the Olympics to not have an athletics facility.
“If we are going to have Commonwealth and Olympic athletes of the future you need coaches and facilities to get them to that level.
“The irony is we are growing all the time and now have more members than ever before.”
Mr Goodyear said he understood the pressure the council was under, particularly now it wasn’t receiving the same level of money coming into the stadium as when Newport County AFC were there.
“The pitch is still being maintained to a football league standard because Newport County have the option to come back, and there are things like football league standard floodlights which we wouldn’t need just for athletics so that dual-purpose nature of it does make it expensive.
“And with athletics at this level being much more of a participation sport than a spectator sport, we can’t fill the gap left by County not being there,” he said.
Mr Goodyear said the club hoped to speak to the council in more detail about its future plans for the stadium.
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