Carmarthenshire sport pitch fee rises on hold as council tax set

Image caption Both Blaenau Gwent and Carmarthenshire approved inflation-busting council tax increases

Carmarthenshire councillors have agreed to shelve plans for big increases in sports pitch charges after meeting to set council tax rates and confirm next year's budget.

They approved plans for a 4.77% council tax rise and £12m savings.

But the executive board will come up with new proposals on pitch fees.

Meanwhile Blaenau Gwent councillors have approved £10m of cuts and a council tax increase of 4.6% as they confirmed their budget.

Blaenau Gwent council leader Hedley McCarthy said they had to make some very unpopular decisions and were asking the community to help retain some services.

"We are now no stranger to collaborating with other local authorities to deliver some services, as we have found this can provide better value for money and secure the future of those services," he said.

"Teaming up with people in the local community has also meant the retention of some facilities which were facing closure.

"Where possible, we will consider alternative ways of delivering services to local people."

The latest round of authority budget meetings follows a decision by Powys council on Wednesday to make savings of about £20m which will result in the loss of around 400 jobs.

Fees review

Speaking before Carmarthenshire's meeting, its council leader Kevin Madge said he could not rule out redundancies either.

"Nobody wants to put up council tax," he said.

"We are trying to protect services, services that people want us to protect - lollipop people, street cleaning, highways - but we do have to save £12m in the next financial year and £31m over the next three years.

"This is the start of some very tough times. I have been in local government for 35 years and I've never known it be this bad.

"It's a problem facing all my colleagues around Wales. I don't think there's a council that's not facing cuts."

Mr Madge said he was unsure how many redundancies the council would have to make and there had been appeals for people to take early retirement.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTumble RFC chairman Roger Perry says they may have to cut the number of teams

A call to shelve planned increases in charges for sports clubs using council-owned facilities pending further discussions won unanimous backing.

The plan was aimed at saving almost £300,000 in subsidies currently enjoyed by the clubs involved.

One club, Tumble RFC, claimed they faced a near five-fold increase in pitch feeds from £49 per match to £235.

Colin Evans, executive board member responsible for sports facilities, said: "I fully appreciate the major concerns expressed by the clubs and sports associations on this whole issue of fees and charges, and we have listened to these concerns.

"We recognise the value of sport on health and well being of people and communities. That is why we will continue to work with town and community councils and local sports clubs and associations to resolve these issues."

Emlyn Dole, a Plaid Cymru councillor whose motion to freeze the fees was unanimously backed, said: "I am pleased for sporting clubs that this has been approved by council.

"It has caused considerable concern across the county."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites