COULD Newport council officers be looking at closing some of its community centres?

A document given to a scrutiny committee shows a review of the council’s 22 community centres found a number of them are either under-used, could be put to other uses or require so many improvements “their retention is uneconomic”.

The issue sparked a row at a meeting of the community planning and development scrutiny committee yesterday morning after its members grew frustrated they had not been presented with the review.

They have been asked to decide whether they will examine the issue, but previously asked to see the review. It is currently unclear which centres are considered uneconomic.

Cllr John Richards, Labour cabinet member for regeneration and development, said he had the review and said the committee should see it.

Sue Bolter, head of regeneration and regulatory services, said a review was conducted into issues such as who was using the community centre and the building maintenance coming up, but said a report had not been produced yet.

Labour Cllr Paul Hannon said he could not understand “how someone can come here and expect us to swallow such baloney”.

Ms Bolter said the paper seen by Cllr Richards was a “list of findings”.

“I feel that you have put me in a very difficult position, Cllr Hannon,” she said.

Cllr Allan Morris said: “Who is running the show? The cabinet member wants us to have it. It hasn’t arrived.”

Ms Bolter said that members could be provided with information in a form that cannot be seen by the Press and public. After a vote the committee decided to take the issue as part of its work.

Walk out over question times

NEWPORT’S Tories walked out of a full council meeting amid a row over how questions are asked at the meeting.

After asking no questions of the Labour leader Bob Bright or cabinet members during Tuesday night’s meeting, the group walked out after Cllr Bright called questions over a fairness commission a charade.

Tories feel changes to full council, requiring questions in advance, mean they have no right to reply.

After the meeting Cllr Bright said: “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”

But Cllr David Fouweather said Cllr Bright had put in place an undemocratic system “that doesn’t allow us to defend ourselves”.

Earlier in the meeting the group made a failed bid to introduce an “open and transparent” process to select a chairman for the fairness commission – a group which will review the council’s decisions on issues such as poverty.

The council erroneously said earlier in the year that Professor Steve Smith was to chair the group, then clarified his nomination would be put to full council, which endorsed the appointment.

Tory leader Cllr Matthew Evans said the process had been a comedy of errors, but Labour’s Allan Morris said it was opposition for the sake of it.