Margam Park could be handed over to outside agency to run
MARGAM Park could be handed over to an outside organisation to run as part of a review of council services.
Neath Port Talbot confirmed it was considering a possible new future for the country's most popular visitor attraction but emphasised no decision had been made.
The possibility was first revealed at a economic and community regeneration scrutiny committee meeting, which was considering developments at the park.
These include a £2 million restoration of its historic features and the creation of a 91-pitch site to be run by the Caravan and Camping Club.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Councillor Mark Jones wanted to know what was being done to increase income so the council could reduce the existing £500,000 subsidy for the park.
Cabinet member Mike James said that, at one time, the plan was to find a single developer to take over the park and run a hotel and golf course there.
"But you're not going to find someone to invest in excess of £10 million to do that," said Mr James.
"Also, it would be detrimental to having people wandering around the place, which they should quite rightly be able to do."
Instead, he said, the decision was made to maintain existing funding while the council established "pods" of development such as the Camping and Caravan Club site.
"All those things will give us more income and then maybe we can reduce the amount the council puts in to supporting the park," added Mr James.
"Unless we start here we're not going to get anywhere and the park will be where it was 16 years ago with nothing in it.
"This is the platform to launch the development of Margam Park.
"We may see it changing in character and maybe it will need to be put into a different platform of running it, rather than it being in the council's control.
"But that is something that will be in a paper later this year or next year.
Councillor Anthony Taylor asked whether they were looking at a similar operation model to leisure (the council's sports and leisure centres and the Gwyn Hall are run by Celtic Leisure).
Mr James responded: "I wouldn't like to comment at this stage. Not at this point."
As well as handing over its leisure facilities to Celtic, Neath Port Talbot has transferred its entire housing stock to NPT Homes.
On a smaller scale it is transferring control of the Dalton Road Community Centre in Sandfields to the NSA regeneration charity.
It's now considering transferring the Aberavon Community Centre in Michna Street, but this is still under discussion.
As for the prospects of Margam Park being taken over, a council spokesman said: "In the current climate of austerity the council is considering a range of options for future service delivery, to sustain services but reduce costs.
"There are no firm proposals for Margam Park yet.
"But it is something we will be looking at, along with a range of other services potentially."