The threat of losing parks and playing fields has highlighted the commitment and determination of members of sports’ groups who not only give very generously of their time to provide sporting opportunities for our young people, but have also put a lot of effort into looking at ways in which maintenance costs could be reduced. Kevin Francis and Mike Bassett of the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee have shared with me the work they have done to show how the costs of running the playing fields could be reduced from £300,000 to £22,000 – a phenomenal saving, with the added bonus that the savings can kick in well before the end of the transition period set by the County Council. It was therefore particularly shocking at the last full County Council meeting that the Plaid Chairman was so rude in cutting short their representations, when theirs is precisely the type of constructive initiative that we should be encouraging.
Plaid Council Leader Emlyn Dole wants town and community councils to bear the cost, but the taking over parks and playing fields poses financial challenges for any town or community council, and the large concentration of facilities in the Llanelli Town Council area, facilities often used by people from neighbouring communities would mean, at current estimated costs, a massive hike in Council Tax, doubling the Band D precept from £94 to £188 per year. When Cllr Dole was challenged on this matter, he actually repeated in last week’s Star that he meant exactly this – the town council precept. This is simply not acceptable, and County Councillors should find a fairer way forward, and reward the excellent work of the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee with more supportive proposals, just as they should be supporting the sports’ associations in Kidwelly, who have taken over responsibility there.