Summer shutdown for Pontypool ski slope in £9.2m cuts

Image caption,
The artificial ski slope, at 230m, is the longest and oldest in Wales

Wales' longest artificial ski slope is to be closed over the summer as part of £9.2m council cuts.

Ski enthusiasts say they fear the temporary closure of Pontypool Ski Centre will allow it to deteriorate and become a target for vandals.

Torfaen council said the seasonal closure was part of proposed budget cuts resulting in 80 job losses.

Council leader Bob Wellington said: "This has been our most difficult budget ever."

Built in 1974, the 230m (754ft) Pontypool Ski Centre is Wales' oldest artificial ski slope.

The council plans to shut the centre from April until the end of September.

Robin Kellen, of Snowsport Wales, the governing body of skiing and snowboarding in Wales, said it was a concern.

He said: "It plays a vital role in the provision for ski and snowboarding not only in Wales, it is also used by the England ski team.

"Clearly any loss of provision of that stature is going to be a significant blow to the sport as a whole."

He said maintenance of the matting and ski lift needed to be kept up.

"If nobody is using it, it will become overgrown and a potential vandalism target. Using it keeps the grass down."

Kate Davies, who trains at the club with her two sons, aged eight and six, said the family faced round trips to Cardiff or Pembrey once the slope was shut.

She said: "My children use it for training and races. The main racing period is over the summer months.

"Cardiff is not anywhere near as good or they have to travel to Pembrey, which for somebody in Newbridge is quite a way to travel."

A Torfaen council spokesman said: "We can confirm that we intend to close Pontypool Ski Slope during the summer season as part of measures the council is taking to save £9.2m from the 2011/2012 budget.

A 30-day consultation with staff affected by the budget saving proposals is underway.

A report due before Torfaen council on 1 March said discussions with trade unions aimed to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies through voluntary redundancies, redeployment opportunities and reducing other workforce costs which include changes to the severance scheme.

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