SuperDragons could go as Newport council tries to save cash

South Wales Argus: POPULAR: John Williams, one of the SuperDragon artists with his Cyber dragon at Urban in Newport in June 2012 POPULAR: John Williams, one of the SuperDragon artists with his Cyber dragon at Urban in Newport in June 2012

NEWPORT’S popular SuperDragons and Comedy Port Festival events could be under threat if new proposals for council savings go ahead.

City council leisure and culture cabinet member Debbie Wilcox is considering whether or not to cut the budget of events and arts development by £150,000 – with the two events needing to find non-council income or not take place at all.

One proposal in a package of £255,000 in possible savings the councillor is considering includes ending the art gallery’s temporary exhibitions programme, closing a squash court complex and reducing the public opening hours of the Bettws Active Living Centre.

None of the proposals was included in the original Newport council public consultation for the 2013/14 budget, launched last year, and Newport council only confirmed the proposals after queries from the Argus.

No decisions have been made. The authority approved savings proposals of £7 million in December.

According to a confidential council report, officers have proposed to merge arts and development teams and reduce their budget by £150,000, with two officers going part-time.

A total of £116,454 will be retained to invest in the Big Splash, the city centre events, the Christmas Countdown and arts development classes, workshops and projects.

But small community grants, Discover Dance, Comedy Port Festival and large-scale community art projects such as SuperDragons will have to be funded either through external grants, sponsorship or earned income, or not take place.

SuperDragons was first held in 2010, when it raised £100,000 for charity, and was held again in 2012.

Not all of the SuperDragons from the second project have been sold yet and an overall figure for howmuch has been raised is unknown.

The third Comedy Port Festival took place last year.

Newport council said the total cost of the second SuperDragons project was £141,886, spread over two financial years.

“The cost for the second project was substantially less than the first project which ran in 2010 (by about 30 per cent), as we managed the project in-house,” she said, adding there no plans for the project to run in 2013.

Bettws leisure couls partially close to save cash

A SPORT and leisure facility in Bettws could also be closed to the public in daytime hours during term time while temporary exhibitions at the city art gallery could be axed under council proposals.

According to a confidential council report the Active Living Centre at Newport High School is little used by the community during term time because of its use by the school.

Under the proposal, which could save £49,000, the centre would be open to the public from 4pm to 10pm and 8am to 8pm on weekends.

The temporary exhibition programme would be ended under proposals also currently in front of cabinet member Debbie Wilcox.

The council said the programme, which has operated since the 1970s, previously received guaranteed annual Arts Council Wales funding but this has ended with the council now receiving funding on a project-byproject basis.

A confidential report said that one officer post would be under threat of redundancy if the proposal, set to save £40,000, went through. It is hoped that ending the exhibitions would provide the opportunity to display work from the permanent collections on a regular basis.

Meanwhile proposals to cease operations at the squash court complex at the Newport International Sports Village could save the council £16,713, internal council documents said.

A spokeswoman for the council said the complex is 35 years old and needs significant improvement work.

Over the last year the courts have not been used for 84 per cent of the time.

“Alternative facilities are provided by Newport Squash Club at Rodney Parade – easily accessible by public transport,” she added.

Comments (9)

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11:32am Thu 24 Jan 13

Nospin_1 says...

Superdragons did not really make £100,000 for charity as it cost almost as much out of our c/tax to subsidise it.

Unfortunately for them and similar events maintaining essential services has got to be the councils priorities

"Arts", then leisure will have to take their place behind the essential services.

But don't blame your council WAG has over ten years cut the support grant to them from 85 to 80% ( which btw forced your council tax to rise hugely), whilst at the same time the Barnet grant increased in real terms by 123% and inflation over the period was approx 35%.

So WAG's income went up by more than double but they cut the support grant allowing them over the period to keep and extra £1B + for their own pet projects, and of course they allowed us to be the only region of the UK to have revaluation forcing up c/tax even more for most people and letting them keep more back themselves ( nice stealth tax there).
Superdragons did not really make £100,000 for charity as it cost almost as much out of our c/tax to subsidise it. Unfortunately for them and similar events maintaining essential services has got to be the councils priorities "Arts", then leisure will have to take their place behind the essential services. But don't blame your council WAG has over ten years cut the support grant to them from 85 to 80% ( which btw forced your council tax to rise hugely), whilst at the same time the Barnet grant increased in real terms by 123% and inflation over the period was approx 35%. So WAG's income went up by more than double but they cut the support grant allowing them over the period to keep and extra £1B + for their own pet projects, and of course they allowed us to be the only region of the UK to have revaluation forcing up c/tax even more for most people and letting them keep more back themselves ( nice stealth tax there). Nospin_1

1:43pm Thu 24 Jan 13

ljbrown says...

Grand - the two initiatives mentioned in this post (SuperDragons and Comedy Port) are two successful cultural regeneration projects which have been gratefully received by the people of Newport and indeed visitors alike.
To loose these would be a great shame - culture is being washed away down the drain along with our shops.

Goodbye community spirit, goodbye creativity, goodbye culture.
Grand - the two initiatives mentioned in this post (SuperDragons and Comedy Port) are two successful cultural regeneration projects which have been gratefully received by the people of Newport and indeed visitors alike. To loose these would be a great shame - culture is being washed away down the drain along with our shops. Goodbye community spirit, goodbye creativity, goodbye culture. ljbrown

2:50pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Severn40 says...

We all accept that budgets are exceptionally tight and some tough decisions have to be made.

But the whole approach to the budget setting process is wrong. You have to look at the big ticket items of social services and see if they can be delivered in more efficient ways. This doesn't mean care has to suffer. Look at the processes and ask the question does it really meet the needs of people?

At the end of the day, you will end up with no leisure or cultural facilities in the city.
We all accept that budgets are exceptionally tight and some tough decisions have to be made. But the whole approach to the budget setting process is wrong. You have to look at the big ticket items of social services and see if they can be delivered in more efficient ways. This doesn't mean care has to suffer. Look at the processes and ask the question does it really meet the needs of people? At the end of the day, you will end up with no leisure or cultural facilities in the city. Severn40

4:10pm Thu 24 Jan 13

bobmech1 says...

Why don't they take the money from there expenses and give something to bring people into Newport
Or have they given up on it
The city centre from BHS is terrible for a city 3 or 4 shops
No wonder every one is going to Cwmbran
I can see Debenhams pulling out of the city before they get here
What's the incentive to come to an empty shell of a high street
As footfall drops more shops will go
Why don't they take the money from there expenses and give something to bring people into Newport Or have they given up on it The city centre from BHS is terrible for a city 3 or 4 shops No wonder every one is going to Cwmbran I can see Debenhams pulling out of the city before they get here What's the incentive to come to an empty shell of a high street As footfall drops more shops will go bobmech1

5:59pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Magor says...

Why dont they re-use the dragons each year,just re-paint them
Why dont they re-use the dragons each year,just re-paint them Magor

6:47pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Dave on his Soapbox says...

...wasn't selling them part/all of the money raised for charity.....

.....and after the Ryder cup.....(rememebr how it benefitted Newport not)....wasn't one other the objectives of the council to make Newport a tourist destination?
......the dragons was on success story in that respect with not only locals following the trail....
....and while there have to be cutbacks.....shouldn
't the council still organise and try and get sponsorship from some of the large businesses....Tata..
..BT...EADS...
...wasn't selling them part/all of the money raised for charity..... .....and after the Ryder cup.....(rememebr how it benefitted Newport not)....wasn't one other the objectives of the council to make Newport a tourist destination? ......the dragons was on success story in that respect with not only locals following the trail.... ....and while there have to be cutbacks.....shouldn 't the council still organise and try and get sponsorship from some of the large businesses....Tata.. ..BT...EADS... Dave on his Soapbox

8:32pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Manley says...

I always presumed Superdragons was a one-off for the Ryder Cup so was a bit surprised to see it back. Holding it every four years would seem to make some sense to me. Keeps it a bit more special/unusual.
I always presumed Superdragons was a one-off for the Ryder Cup so was a bit surprised to see it back. Holding it every four years would seem to make some sense to me. Keeps it a bit more special/unusual. Manley

9:44pm Thu 24 Jan 13

foxy3rd says...

Of all things mentioned in the cuts surely the libraries are an absolute must to be reprieved So many derive an enormous amount of pleasure,service,lea
rning,help and community from them young and old the whole year through.
I see that the rubbish tarmac substitute that the council keep having laid on Wharf Rd. needs replacing yet again especially under the railway bridge.How can they keep throwing money away like that and then have the nerve to say that they need to close Maindee library .
Of all things mentioned in the cuts surely the libraries are an absolute must to be reprieved So many derive an enormous amount of pleasure,service,lea rning,help and community from them young and old the whole year through. I see that the rubbish tarmac substitute that the council keep having laid on Wharf Rd. needs replacing yet again especially under the railway bridge.How can they keep throwing money away like that and then have the nerve to say that they need to close Maindee library . foxy3rd

1:34am Fri 25 Jan 13

celticbabe81 says...

Well speaking for myself and my family we're from up the valley towards newbridge and they only time in the last three years we have been in newport was either hospital apointments or to see the dragons otherwise we perfer to get on the train and go stright to cardiff or cwmbran..rather then going shopping and visiting in Newport.
Always feel rather threatened mind this do come after visiting newport on a special BHS store card holders evening and being bombarded with a gang of boys throwing glass bottles, sandwich boards and other missels all at the shops at only 8.30pm... the fact that no one in bhs could ring the police and had to borrow a shoppers phone to get help was scary, it was even more scary walking through newport with my OAP parents back to the car knowing these sorts of gangs were hanging around newport... It's safe to say that was the last shopping trip in newport....
for myself ever since newport got city status it has gone down hill dramaticly always feel rather threatened walking around newport even in the day...
Well speaking for myself and my family we're from up the valley towards newbridge and they only time in the last three years we have been in newport was either hospital apointments or to see the dragons otherwise we perfer to get on the train and go stright to cardiff or cwmbran..rather then going shopping and visiting in Newport. Always feel rather threatened mind this do come after visiting newport on a special BHS store card holders evening and being bombarded with a gang of boys throwing glass bottles, sandwich boards and other missels all at the shops at only 8.30pm... the fact that no one in bhs could ring the police and had to borrow a shoppers phone to get help was scary, it was even more scary walking through newport with my OAP parents back to the car knowing these sorts of gangs were hanging around newport... It's safe to say that was the last shopping trip in newport.... for myself ever since newport got city status it has gone down hill dramaticly always feel rather threatened walking around newport even in the day... celticbabe81

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