Celebrations as Pembrey Community Centre is saved
RESIDENTS and community groups rejoiced on Wednesday night as the future of Pembrey Memorial Community Centre was secured.
Groups including Cylch Meithrin Pembrey were among those to pack out the Burry Port OAP Hall for the town council meeting.
The high attendance followed earlier reports that discussions were under way between Carmarthenshire Council and Burry Port and Pembrey Town Council over the ownership of the centre.
Fears had grown in the community that if an agreement could not be reached the centre could potentially be closed.
Technical services officer John Ridgway summed up the mood of the evening by saying: "There are a lot of very worried people in Pembrey who have heard about the closure."
Pembrey councillor David Owens said staff working for Cylch Meithrin, which is based at the centre, could have been set to lose jobs if the town council didn't step in.
Councillors raised concerns over taking on the centre in the wake of recent county council budget cuts, with the level of funding Carmarthenshire will receive from the Welsh Goverment from next April set to drop by 3.9 per cent.
But councillor Michael Theodoulou added: "This council represents two distinct communities, so we have to be seen to be equitable and fair."
Also backing the centre was Pembrey councillor Hugh Shepardson who said: "What will happen if the town council does not take it over? It will be mothballed, that can't be allowed to happen."
In response, Burry Port Councillor John James said that the town council could not make a decision or take anything on until the full scale of the cuts was clear.
He added: "We need to look at this in a rational way."
Councillor Pat Jones echoed Mr James' stance, adding that the council needed to put statutory services first if there were job losses.
Pembrey councillor Shirley Matthews added that the centre was the "heart of the community".
As discussions continued, one Pembrey councillor then referred to the recent refurbishment of Burry Port Memorial Hall, adding that the town council had just spent up to "£10,000 on wallpaper", which was refuted.
Following this, Deputy Mayor Andrew Phillips proposed that the council delayed on making a decision until the full implications of the cuts were clear, but to take on the centre in principal.
After much discussion and a further amendment the majority of councillors voted against this proposal which resulted in the town council taking over the centre fully.
The decision was met with excitement from groups and residents present at the meeting, who left in high spirits.