Carmarthenshire Council considers park giveaway to help save £31m
PARKS, playgrounds and playing fields could be given up by Carmarthenshire Council in a bid to save at least £31 million over the next three years.
The alternative is to charge clubs and organisations using the facilities more than double to cancel out the cost of maintenance, the council said.
Currently bowls, rugby, football and cricket clubs cost the local authority more than a quarter of a million pounds annually.
The council's executive board was told by the director of technical services, Richard Workman, the transfer of leisure playing areas to town, community councils and community groups could help give them greater control.
Executive board member for leisure services, 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 which are able to demonstrate they can manage them to the benefit of the communities themselves."
The council is now looking for expressions of interest from individuals and groups who have strong links with the community and sporting organisations and teams.
Head of property services, Phil Lumley, said if there were no asset transfers a new charging regime would be proposed to recover the costs associated with maintaining the authority's sports facilities.
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.
Leisure centres are presently unaffected.
Mrs Gravell added: "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."