Sports pitches and pavilions consultation begins
Posted on: Friday 26 April 2019
Bridgend County Borough Council has launched one of its biggest ever consultations, inviting views that will help shape the future of sports fields, pavilions, grass cutting and play grounds.
With local authorities facing an unprecedented squeeze on their budgets, the council anticipates that it needs to make savings of £36.4m over the next four years in addition to the millions that it has already saved.
To help it achieve the required savings and deliver a balanced budget, the council has made it clear that as it will no longer be able to directly provide the same level of services, it is very keen to talk to more rugby, football and cricket clubs over the possibility of them taking over the running of the outdoor pitches and pavilions they use.
On average, the income received by the council from charging users of its outdoor sports pitches and pavilions only makes up 20 to 25 per cent of the actual costs of providing and maintaining the facilities, so the council is typically providing a financial subsidy of up to 80 per cent.
This consultation is designed to inform the ways in which we can preserve popular community facilities for future generations. National austerity is ongoing, and we have been as clear as possible with residents about the financial situation facing this and every other council.
It is not enough to say something is popular or well-used anymore – the reality of the situation is that we simply cannot continue to subsidise sport pitches and pavilions to such a level, and also afford the investment required to ensure that facilities continue to meet necessary standards. We need to work together to find an alternative way of preserving these valuable community facilities, or risk losing them.
If we do not do this, we will be forced into a position where facilities will need to close. The council does not want that to happen, so we must find a way for the facilities to be provided without such a financial reliance on the council. We are open to new and innovative ways of delivering essential services, and hope to work in closer partnership with local sports clubs and organisations.Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities
Councillor Young added: “To help this process develop, this consultation has been launched to raise further awareness of the dilemma we face. We want to be armed with all of the facts and have a complete picture before taking the tough decisions that lie ahead.
“During last year’s ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ budget consultation, 60 per cent of survey respondents said that they would support an increase in charges for sports pitches and pavilions if it helped to protect other essential frontline council services.
“We now want to dig a bit deeper into this to discover the impact that an increase in hire costs would have on local sports and physical activity. How palatable would an increase in costs really be? Are there more clubs out there who would be willing to consider Community Asset Transfers to take on the running of facilities on either a short-term management agreement or a longer-term lease?
“We are asking sports clubs and all users of these facilities to complete the consultation, and to have their say on these matters.”
As well as sports pitches and pavilions, the extensive consultation also asks for opinions on two other important topics.
The council provides 108 children’s play areas that contain fixed play equipment such as swings, slides, roundabouts, rockers and climbing frames. The council picks up the cost of replacing old, damaged and vandalised play equipment.
While some play areas are well used, others aren’t as popular and regularly suffer from vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
In the consultation, residents will be asked how much they value their own local facilities, and have their say on whether the council should continually repair equipment that is frequently vandalised or focus more on improving the more popular play areas.
The council manages a number of different sites and green spaces. This includes formal parks such as Griffin Park and Maesteg Welfare Park, open spaces in housing areas, grass on highway verges, and playing fields such as Newbridge Fields, Llangynwyd Playing Fields and Locks Lane.
Due to budget reductions, the council is considering reducing the frequency of grass cutting at these sites. Two options are being suggested for comment…
- Proposal one: Reducing grass cutting in open spaces and road verges from seven to five times a year.
- Proposal two: Reducing grass cutting in parks, playing fields, incidental open spaces, housing areas, kick-abouts and children’s play areas from 16 times to 12 times a year.
The consultation will be open until 10 July 2019 and can be completed online.
Paper copies and alternative formats are also available by calling 01656 643664 or emailing email@example.com