A SEA of "glum faces" voted through further budget cuts including the closure of Nantyglo Sports Centre and all council-run public toilets at a special meeting of Blaenau Gwent Council yesterday.

Faced with cuts from Westminster passed on to the Welsh Government and in turn to local authorities, the Valleys council will be forced to find total savings of £10 million for the 2014/2015 financial year.

Cuts will arrive in stages, with phase one voted through yesterday, plugging a £2.5 million hole in the Council’s budget due to cost pressures including overspending departments. These cuts will save up to £2.3 million, with further “Phase Two” cuts to be decided in October.

Residents look likely to be hit with an increase in council tax of 4.6 per cent in the 2014/2015 financial year, the same level as this year, raising around £500,000.

Blaenau Gwent residents already faced cuts in March when funding for Brynmawr’s Market Hall Cinema was withdrawn. It has reopened, run by a community group.

Yesterday’s cuts were voted through unanimously by the ruling Labour group.

Independent councillor John Hopkins said before the vote: "I have never seen so many glum faces as I do this morning. This illustrates the gravity of the situation in which this council finds itself."

He described the cuts as "unpalatable and a bitter pill for those in the community to swallow".

But he said the council must work together to solve the crisis it finds itself in.

Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council Hedley McCarthy said: "I think it’s safe to say everyone is experiencing very tough economic times right now.

"Local authorities and wider public services in Wales are facing reductions in their budgets and delivery of services on an unprecedented scale.

At the end of last year we received a much worse funding settlement from the Welsh Government than was anticipated.

"This - coupled with central government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in June - means we have to make tough and difficult decisions in terms of how we fund and deliver services as a council now, into next year and leading into 2015."

Councillor Anita Hobbs, cabinet member for social services, said: "The decision to close Nantyglo Sports Centre during the 2013/2014 financial year has not been taken lightly. Blaenau Gwent Council is no worse or different from other authorities trying to find workable solutions in tough economic times - and we all know the next few years are going to be hard."

Where the axe will fall

* Nantyglo Sports Centre will close within the next few months, unless a community trust comes forward to take on ownership of the facility. This will save £226,000.

* There will be new charges for waste collection. Three items of bulky waste will cost £10, with a £3 for additional items. There will be an annual charge of £25 for green waste collection and the service will run just eight months a year.

* Eleven public conveniences will close, all the council-run toilets in Blaenau Gwent - Two civic amenity sites, in Silent Valley and Bourneville, will close, saving £40,000.

* There will be staff cuts in multiple departments and reduced hours in Meals on Wheels - Redundancy terms will be reduced to the minimum required by law, in consultation with trade unions - Changes to CCTV operation will generate savings of £300,000

* The remaining 25 per cent of care at home provided by social services will be outsourced, subject to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) review of all council services. This will save up to £750,000.

* There will be further cuts in October when a full review of all council services from PricewaterhouseCoopers will be considered.