CASH-STRAPPED council chiefs are planning to put up the cost of leisure services by an average of eight per cent this week.

The Blaenau Gwent executive is expected to approve inflation-busting hikes for leisure cards, sports centre sessions and the hiring of rooms as it forges ahead with plans to save £20m in the next three years.

The Labour-led council also intends to increase wedding ceremony charges at the Grade II listed Bedwellty House in Morgan Street, Tredegar, by around seven per cent from next year.

The current rate of inflation is around 1.7 per cent.

The proposed hikes came to light after the local authority confirmed it was pulling the plug on the Abertillery Blues Festival, which had attracted major acts from the UK and overseas.

However, council chiefs said they hoped that the summer festival could be resurrected in 2015 under the auspices of a non-profit organisation called the Life Leisure Trust, which is to be set up this year.

In a report on the leisure charges, Blaenau Gwent council said it planned to continue to give discounted rates for 3G sports pitches at weekends and would freeze library charges including the borrowing of DVDs and computer games and photocopying.

The local authority also intends to reduce the cost of its hydroslide at Ebbw Vale sports centre and stressed the average Life leisure card increase would be around £2.05.

The savings target for the leisure services portfolio is £1.15 million for 2014/15, the report says.

In a statement which was issued last week, the local authority said: “Blaenau Gwent council is facing an unprecedented financial challenge in light of reduced funding settlements from the Welsh and UK governments and, in total, has to find savings of £20 million over the next three years.”

Blaenau Gwent executive is to make a decision on the planned increases at Ebbw Vale Civic Centre on Wednesday. [April 2].