Clubs won't be bowled over by any council cuts
LEADERS at Carmarthen's St Peter's Bowls Club have spoken out over county council plans to sell off up to 14 of its bowling greens and other sports sites.
The club has been privately owned by members since the 1920s and is not at risk despite being listed as a council facility on the authority's website.
Other venues also on the council website list but that are not at risk due to private ownership are Carmarthen Wanderers Cricket field in Johnstown, Bronwydd cricket field and Pendine football field.
The Journal has been pushing the council for a definitive list of sites under threat due to the cost-cutting measures which aim 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.
Fred Hughes, treasurer at the St Peter's Bowls Club said while the club was privately owned he shared the concerns of other bowling greens across Carmarthenshire that could be sold off.
He said: "We have an aging population here and have owned the club since 1927 but to hear that other greens that are run by the council could be handed over to clubs is worrying.
"Mainly because it is such a huge thing for these clubs to take on all the responsibilities and maintenance costs.
"Many clubs have older members who will just not be able to take on the running."
"We are not at risk as a club but need new members and younger people to keep up the membership." He said he was also concerned at the wider picture with rugby and football pitches at risk.
Mr Hughes said: "Sport for youngsters is important and the financial pressures will be a lot for some small clubs to take on.
"I think the council has to look at how important these facilities are, times are tough yes but sport and young talent is too."
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.
Mrs Gravell added: "We have been told in Carmarthenshire to expect to have to make savings of at least £7.4 million next year; £10.4 million the year after and £13.3 million the year after."
Carmarthenshire Council's chief executive said at a meeting of the executive board on Monday that a small working group would now be set up to look at what community groups and community councils would be interested in taking on venues.
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