Pontypool councillors' fears over cuts
2:29pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
PONTYPOOL community councillors said they are concerned the town could be left neglected in the wake of Torfaen council’s proposed budget cuts.
At the meeting last week community councillor Gaynor James read a presentation highlighting the good work undertaken locally by community groups, through funding from both the community council and Torfaen Council.
Councillors were joined by Torfaen’s chief officer for neighbourhood services Christina Harrhy, who came to respond to their concerns following radical plans to slash £11.2 million from its 2014/15 budget.
Proposals could see Pontypool Museum’s grant cut by up to 20 per cent, while the mobile library service could be stopped, school crossing patrols reduced and tourism money diverted away from promoting Torfaen as a whole to focus on the World Heritage Site in Blaenavon.
There is also a proposal for Torfaen Council to cease its £30,000 funding to the regeneration partnership.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr James, who is also chairman of the Pontypool regeneration steering group committee, said: “There being no money in the pot for regeneration does not bear thinking about. It’s important that the community council keep up the funding to prevent the town becoming neglected.
“I don’t want the town to be neglected as at the moment it’s looking wonderful but without upkeep it will be back to how it was.”
Chairman of Pontypool Community Council, Giles Davies, said: “Although saddened by the news I understand that substantial savings have to be made to protect front line services.
“I am therefore very happy that Pontypool Community Council are going to carry on holding the torch for our once vibrant town and will continue to support the partnership initiative in a bid to improve our area for shoppers and traders alike.”
The community council will hold a meeting in the New Year to decide what projects it can afford to shoulder should the funding be withdrawn.
Ms Harrhy said: “We are in difficult times and difficult decisions have to be made.”
She highlighted that the council can no longer subsidise football and bowls clubs so they will be looking at the organisations taking on maintenance and becoming self sufficient.
Cllr James added: “We understand that Torfaen Council had to make cuts, but the public can’t take up all initiatives because they are busy and it’s got to be funded, so it’s up to councillors to lead the way.”
Councillors aired their concerns after a failing by Ms Harrhy’s department to notify them of changes before they happen.
Earlier this year, 24 trees were cut down in Pontypool Park to make way for a new orchard, without the community council being consulted.
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