NEWPORT council has insisted comments from unions were taken on board in the budget consultation process after an appeal for a pause from public-sector union Unison.

A spokeswoman for the council said it has had to make difficult decisions when setting next year’s budget as it has to make savings of more than £7 million.

She also mooted the prospect of a “leisure and cultural hub” with the museum, art gallery and central library based in Newport Centre.

Council is due to vote on the budget for 2013/14 tonight.

Peter Short, regional organiser for Unison, last week called for a pause to the budget process amid proposed cuts to arts and cultural services.

But the council said it had informed local trade unions about the proposals in December, while a formal consultation meeting took place with representatives, including Mr Short, at the beginning of February.

“Comments made by the unions were included as part of the consultation process,” said the council’s spokeswoman.

She added that proposals which would have had the “most impact on residents” were subject to public consultation for nearly two months.

“We received a large volume of comments, one of the most we have ever received for a public consultation,” she said.

As a result of the comments received, cabinet recommended a number of changes to the proposals including the setting up of a hardship fund for students to access Gwent Music Support Service and for Maindee library to remain open.

Although temporary art exhibitions in the gallery have ended, the art gallery will remain open and display works from the permanent collection.

“The Riverfront Theatre and Art Centre also hosts temporary exhibitions and contemporary art will be housed within the Riverfront.”