Anger at £2.5m for Ebbw Vale rail link plan
9:28am Monday 16th September 2013 in Gwent news
A BRYNMAWR town councillor has criticised Blaenau Gwent council for spending £2.3m on a mechanical lift while cutting jobs and services to address its £10m deficit.
The inclined lift will link Ebbw Vale town centre to The Works site.
At a meeting of the executive last week, members were given an update on the design and installation of the link, which will cost £2,368,500 to create plus £16,366 to run every year.
Up to 140 Blaenau Gwent home care employees were told last month they could lose their jobs, as the council attempts to address a £2.5m hole in its budget, part of a £10m deficit.
The mechanical link will be paid for with part of a £12,234,822 European Convergence Programme grant given to the Ebbw Vale Town Centre Regeneration Programme in 2010. The mechanical link is the final phase of the Cross Valleys Links Scheme, and will also include access steps and a cycle path, although these will be funded separately.
The report to the councillors said: “The creation of these links will provide attractive and safe routes and will encourage pedestrian movement between the two sites and the proposed railway platform adjacent to the general offices.
“It is envisaged that this will lead to wider regeneration and economic opportunities which will help secure the town centre’s economic viability.”
Three companies put in tenders to develop the 18/20 person carriage link. The executive accepted the recommended one of £2,368,500 plus running costs.
Brynmawr town councillor Terry Hughes said: “If Blaenau Gwent can get hold of £2.5m, it would be worth spending it on getting a better standard of living for the people. I think they should get the opinion of the people on this. There are issues which need improving first before we spend £2.2m on a cable car.
“People are really suffering . I know people who have to get their food from foodbanks, decent people who can’t afford to live.What is this world coming to? I expect it is European money, but with the situation of job losses and closures, I think they are dodging their responsibilities, to be honest.”
But John Williams, county councillor for Rassau said: “We have got to have access to the site. Without the mechanical lift, people cannot get down to it. When The Works site is finished, it will be of great benefit to the whole county borough.”
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