Group calls for Blaenau Gwent councillors to answer questions on cuts

South Wales Argus: Group calls for Blaenau Gwent councillors to answer questions on cuts Group calls for Blaenau Gwent councillors to answer questions on cuts

A MEETING of disgruntled representatives from Ebbw Fach area’s sports and cultural groups has criticised Blaenau Gwent Council for failing to consult them over grounds and maintenance cuts.

The group of 38 people from Abertillery Bowls Club, Abertillery Ladies Bowls Club, Abertillery Rugby Club, Llanhilleth Rugby Club, Aberbeeg Rugby Club and 10 other local sports and cultural groups met two weeks ago to discuss Blaenau Gwent Council’s budget cuts, including cutting £500,000 in grounds maintenance.

In a letter written by the chairman of the group to councillors representing the Ebbw Fach area, it said: “It is unfortunate that we became aware of these issues from a newspaper and web site and not through consultation or communication with the Council.

“The cut of £500,000 will have implications for all sports clubs and is obviously a matter of much concern to us all.

“It would appear therefore that Councillors agreed to this cut without the knowledge or information to base their decisions.”

The group’s spokesman told the Argus the two main concerns was the cutting of the Grounds Maintenance Budget and the Asset Management – Area Review. They are meeting again tonight.

He said: “We as a group had a meeting on January 27, and we are having another, which we have invited our councillors to, on Monday. We hope they will come along and answer some of our questions and perhaps change their minds about these cuts.

“We understand cuts have to be made, but these will have a massive impact on the area and the people living here.

“We are all very concerned and we hope Monday’s meeting has a good turn out.

The group are worried the proposed alternative arrangements for the maintenance and upkeep of leisure facilities could badly affect sports clubs and arts and cultural organisations.

In the letter sent to councillors they said: “We strongly oppose the cuts to the grounds maintenance budget and whilst we acknowledge that the issue of asset management is subject to further review, we also oppose any proposals arising from such review that will adversely affect our organisations.”

A council spokeswoman said: “There has been a review of the Council’s property portfolio. The review considered the suitability and condition of Council assets and made recommendations for their future use.

"The Council has reviewed 215 buildings. A further piece of work will be undertaken to develop individual asset action plans, following agreement on the recommendations and options appraisal work.

"Councillors will be consulted in accordance with the detailed guidance contained in these documents on any buildings within their Wards.”

The group hope tonight's meeting will clarify the cuts. The meeting is open to public and will take place at Abertillery Comprehensive at 7.30pm.

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