Council considers community asset transfer
4:54pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
PARKS, playgrounds and playing fields could be given up by Carmarthenshire Council in the drive to support efficiency savings of at least £31-million over the next three years.
The alternative is to more than double the majority of charges to clubs and organisations using the facilities to erase the costly burden of maintenance.
Bowls, rugby, football and cricket clubs currently lose the council more than a quarter of a million pounds annually when income is balanced against maintenance costs.
There are a total of 14 bowls greens; 43 football; and rugby facilities and 33 cricket pitches or synthetic wickets county wide.
The county’s executive board was told by the director of technical services, Richard Workman, the non statutory leisure services would require a different delivery solution because of the challenge of necessary efficiency savings and a Welsh Government cut in funding to the authority.
Mr Workman said the community transfer of leisure playing areas to town, community councils and community groups could help give them greater control.
The council are looking for expressions of interest from local people and community groups meeting certain criteria.
They would have to be community led with strong links with the community and sporting organisations and local teams with local people controlling the organisation’s decision making process.
Initial meetings have been held with a number of interested parties following the increase in sporting charges set out by the council last year.
County head of property services, Phil Lumley, in a report to the executive board said with no asset transfers a new charging regime would have to be proposed to recover the costs associated with maintaining the authorities sports facilities involving rugby,football-cricket and bowls. They needed to ensure a neutral cost by 2016-17.
Mr Lumley said the deficit between cost and income for 2013-14 was predicted to be £264,000.
One of the reasons he identified for such a high deficit was that some facilities like bowling greens had few users but high maintenance costs.
As an example he said junior and adult bowls facilities in Carmarthenshire currently cost £112,852 annually with just a £38,845 income. The current junior season ticket was £30 annually. By increasing this to £42 in 2014-15 and £54 in 2015-16 then £70 in 2016-17. Adult fees would rise from £102 to £322 over the three years. This would reduce the current shortfall from £35,845 to £128. Seven other scales of charges have been evaluated for junior and adult bowls users and hirers to wipe out the present deficits predicted over the three years.
Similar exercises have been performed for junior and adult rugby and football and cricket teams and charity hirers of playing grounds and pavilions across the county.
Rugby and football current costs of maintenance run at £170,891 with an income of just £38,113 and cricket costs £57,708 with an income of only £3,489.
Junior grass wicket charges would rise incrementally from the current £7 fee to £45 over three years.
Leisure centres are presently unaffected.
County executive board member for leisure services Cllr Meryl Gravell said: “Non statutory services like leisure facilities have to become self sufficient if they are to continue because of the dire economic crisis facing all authorities. The alternative is to give facilities over to communities or groups who are able to demonstrate they can manage them to the benefit of the communities themselves.”
“We have been told in Carmarthenshire to expect to have to make savings of at least £7.4 million next year; £10.4million the year after and £13.3 the year after.”