Disappointment as community hub set to close
A POPULAR Briton Ferry community education hub is to close.
Community House in Llansawel Crescent, the home of Briton Ferry Community First, will be shutting its doors on December 21.
Barry Cosker informed his fellow councillors at a Briton Ferry Town Council meeting.
"After December 21 any groups or clubs that use the Community House will be offered a venue at the Sea Cadets in Regent Street," he said. "Unfortunately it has got to that stage where there's no money for it any more."
The Welsh Government is currently launching a new Communities First programme which means a new 'Neath Cluster' is being formed.
The cluster will merge Communities First teams in Briton Ferry West, Cwmavon, Fairyland, Neath East, Neath South & Cimla and Neath Town Centre.
Briton Ferry Communities First co-ordinator Leigh Batchelor said: "Our lease was due for renewal and we have not got enough money to keep it going.
"We can't afford to pay the rent and running costs. It has been a possibility for the past 12 months. As a cluster we are looking at the needs of the whole cluster area and not just the individual areas.
"The final decision came from the local authority.
"Even though the centre has been really successful over the past 10 years it is not viable to keep it open."
But councillors said they did not want to see something else removed from the town — and want the computers from the centre to be kept in the community.
Councillor Hugh James said: "We need to try to keep these computers in Briton Ferry. I am certainly on the case."
Mr James pointed out to members that Briton Ferry West was the poorest part of Neath Port Talbot in relation to children, where 51 per cent of them were living in poverty.
"Community First was there for the benefit of communities like this," he said. "I understand the budget, but we as a community need to keep some facilities in the Briton Ferry area. The centre is well used. If the centre wasn't you would understand.
"The Sea Cadets option is welcome, but it is not that accessible. It is taking it out of the heart of the community. We are not going down without a fight."
Deputy mayor Susan Davies said: "Everything is going from the ferry. We have lost the hospital and the health centre is going outside of the town. We are not going to have anything here."
Aberavon AM David Rees said: "I hope that the management team for the new cluster, when approved by the Minister, will reconsider the location of the Communities First team within Briton Ferry so that it remains at the heart of the community it will be serving."
The council's head of partnership and community development, Russell Ward, said: "As a result of the changes arising from the new Communities First programme, there are less resources available.
"We have been in discussion with the community for several months and are more than happy to extend that dialogue to ensure existing assets such as computers can be of continued benefit to local groups and residents."