Campaigns get under way to fight Cardiff Council budget cuts

February 2, 2013 7 Comments »
Campaigns have begun against many of the cuts announced in Cardiff Council's budget, including the withdrawal of funds from Cardiff Riding School, the closure of The Hayes public toilets, and selling off Flat Holm Island.

Campaigns have begun against many of the cuts announced in Cardiff Council’s budget, including the withdrawal of funds from Cardiff Riding School, the closure of The Hayes public toilets, and selling off Flat Holm Island.

Swimmers have reacted angrily to news that Splott Pool will be closed if the cuts proposed by Cardiff Council this week are approved.

Splott Pool has been earmarked for closure in order to save £300,000 a year, as part of budget cuts announced on Thursday worth a total of £22 million.

Councillor Huw Thomas, cabinet member for sports, leisure and culture told yourCardiff that he was “personally devastated” about the proposals for Splott Pool, which has served the locality for 30 years.

But he added: “We’re not picking on anybody, [the budget] has been put together to protect the most vulnerable in our city.

“We are completely aware of the need to sustain an Olympic legacy. And what I’ve been able to do is ensure that football, rugby, tennis, and baseball are free to under 18s. It’ll still allow people to get into sport.”

Eleven year-old Millie Marcenaro lives near enough to the pool to walk there on her own. She said: “It’s a lovely place where I spend lots of time and I’m really going to miss it. My eight year-old brother Daniel is not a very good swimmer yet and if Splott pool closes he won’t have anywhere to go often enough to learn.”

Mum Fiona added that she feels confident to let Millie go to the pool on her own.

She said: “It would be a crying shame if it closes. The staff there are great and it keeps the kids off the streets.

Another Splott resident, Darren Warburton has started a Facebook group – Save Splott Pool – and added: “When I heard about the proposals for the pool I was really angry. There are so many schools within walking distance of it, and they are in a fairly run down area of Cardiff. The schools can ill afford to hire a bus to take the children down the Bay, and neither can some parents.”

Splott ward councillor Luke Holland, who also has responsibility for adult social care‚ health and wellbeing said he was willing to do everything in his power to keep the pool from closing. But he added that the figures were “challenging.”

He said: “Splott and Tremorfa are two of the most deprived areas of the city and to close one of the few facilities that we’ve got is absolutely devastating.”

He added that the communities had pulled together to save the nearby Moorland Community Centre.

He also indicated that there would be a public meeting organised for February 13, although the venue was yet to be confirmed.

Public asked to fight against cuts to Welsh language festival and Cardiff Riding School

A number of other public meetings, petitions and campaign groups have already been formed in an attempt to fight a range of the cuts included in Thursday’s budget announcement.

A public meeting has been arranged for tomorrow night (Sunday February 3) by Menter Caerdydd. The charity promotes the use of the Welsh language in Cardiff, but is facing a cut to its annual council funding of more than £33,000.

This includes £20,000 that the local authority normally puts towards Tafwyl, Cardiff’s only Welsh language festival, and tomorrow night’s meeting at Y Mochyn Du in Sophia Close from 6pm will discuss how to campaign against this.

In a statement Menter Caerdydd said Tafwyl, which has been running for 10 years, was attended by more than 10,000 people in 2012, and had grown into big success over the last 10 years.

But the charity stressed that Tafwyl was dependent on grant money from many sources, and that news of Cardiff Council’s budget cut proposal “completely jeopardises the future of the festival in its current format.”

It said: “Arrangements for this year’s festival are already well underway and we weren’t previously made aware that our funding of £20,000 was in any danger.

“We know that Cardiff Council are eager to see Cardiff develop as a bilingual city. In our opinion Tafwyl has made a significant contribution to the people of Cardiff’s sense of living in a bilingual city.

“Therefore, we’ll be contacting the council to ask for an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.”

The organisation also urged people to come along to Sunday’s meeting, and contact their local councillor.

Another public meeting has been arranged for Monday night in The Cameo Club in Pontcanna Street at 7pm to discuss the possible closure of Cardiff Riding School. The council’s budget proposes withdrawing the £20,000 used annually to support the school and instead find a third party to run the Pontcanna-based stables.

There has been huge opposition to this particular cut, with more than 100 protesters arriving outside City Hall prior to Thursday’s budget meeting, and an online petition has already gathered more than 1,900 signatures.

Petition to save Flat Holm Island gathers hundreds of signatures

The council’s proposal to stop visits to Flat Holm Island, saving £150,000, and sell the island to a third party has also prompted a campaign. The Flat Holm Society said they hoped an “alternative model of operation” could be found for the island, and an online petition against its sale has already reached 500 signatures.

The council’s decision to close the public toilet in The Hayes – which were restored at a cost of £148,000 just three years ago – has also been criticised, and prompted another online petition.

Closing the toilets, which were originally built in 1898 and restored in 2009, would save the council £92,000.

But toilet attendant Nicky Kenyon, 40, who has worked for the council for 11 years, said: “After all that money they spent on it three years ago – what was the point of all that money if they’re just going to shut them?

“They’re one of the only ones left in the city centre now and they’re the oldest.

“It’s going to be such a shame if they go.

“I don’t understand why they can’t just charge people to use these toilets.”

Known for their distinctive Victorian look, complete with goldfish swimming in the cistern, the underground public toilets were given a squeaky-clean five stars at the 2010 National Loo Awards.

Raymond Martin of the British Toilet Association said the closure would be “disappointing”.

“It’s very understandable that councils are having to save money, but it is a huge shame,” he said. “The key problem is, councils tend to see toilets as a drain on their resources.

“They’re being forced to cut their budgets and closing toilets seems like an easy way to do it.”

The closure comes after a recent scrutiny committee report found Cardiff’s public loo provision was “awful”.

“For too long the toilets have been neglected and now they are awful,” said former councillor Simon Wakefield at the time.

Full details on the cuts being proposed by Cardiff Council for 2013/2014 can be found here, and information on changes to grants for external organisations can be found here.

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7 Comments

  1. James February 3, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Typical it takes the lavatory attendant to point out the obvious failure to charge users appropriate fees. This is common to all of the examples in your story. Tourists going to Flat Holm should obviously be paying a fare that covers the cost of running the boat out there. Public swimming pools already charge admission, and the price should be set so that they don't lose hundreds of thousands of pounds. Riding schools have a fairly obvious business model. And Menter Caerdydd should be selling tickets to its Tafwyl events, or if the shortfall really is only £2 per person, it could even just ask for donations from those attending.

  2. eyeonwales February 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm - Reply
  3. Twm February 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    On Saturday, February 2 the council had THREE of its 'Civil Enforcement Officers' – that is traffic wardens- patrolling just one street, Mackintosh Place, Roath.
    Though the council don't like to admit it issuing parking fines brings in revenue for the authority, however you have to question if the amount of money brought in from parking tickets on Mackintosh Place on Saturday would be greater than the cost of employing so many wardens.
    The council should also consider if the benefits of very strictly enforcing its parking restrictions outweigh the potential losses suffered by businesses if customers shun suburban shopping areas for fear of a parking ticket.
    As the council will need to find alternative cuts to those it has proposed it should consider redundancies among its traffic wardens or reducing their hours and moving some to part time etc.

  4. DDD February 4, 2013 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Its clear that what needs cutting is the managers' salaries and perks not the quality of life issues mentioned above and events that 10,000 people enjoy. Pay and perks for the top end has got out of control (don't even mention the Caerphilly CEO quietly giving himself a £35k pay-rise overnight). Residents payments should be more focused towards services not OTT pay packets. They leave the commercial sector in their dust and are set to spend more on several £130k jobs. Absurd…

  5. J. Jones February 4, 2013 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Amazing to see just how much money Cardiff is pumping into Welsh Language anything….no mention of cutting the £600,000 odd that is paid just to Welsh Medium schools to "buy" extra teachers. Money that somehow is judged to be unnecessary in English Medium schools. Something tells me that Cardiff has its priorities wrong …maybe it has something to do with how many "important people" (politicians, academics, the meeja) send their kids to these schools.

  6. j7brooks February 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Wales' council's could save plenty of cash by simply stopping having to replicate everything into the Welsh language. Road signs and all Council's paperwork are duplicated so that everything is written in both English and Welsh. What a waste of money, that English council's don't have to spend. Ending the unwanted farce of re-writing everything into Welsh would provide enough funds to cover the costs of libraries, pools, community centres etc. and stop these unpopular cuts.

    • Amazed February 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Or Urdu, or Polish, or Bangladeshi…if we are going to be so disrespectful about people's languages and cultures let's start by attacking the one that was here in the first place, why not?

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