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Proposed cuts for public services creates uproar in Cardiff

New Theatre Cardiff

A recent document released by Cardiff Council has proposed a £50m cut in spending for 2014/2015 and it has been estimated that £9.2m of the overall £50m cut will directly affect public services.

Two of Cardiff’s top cultural venues, St David’s Hall and the New Theatre, are under threat of closure as the council looks for an outside investor to step in allowing the council to withdraw the annual subsidies they currently provide. St David’s Hall first opened in 1982 and has a capacity of 2,000. The venue is currently subsidised by around £1.2m a year.

Owain Arwel Hughes, founder of the Welsh Proms (which take place every year in July at St David’s Hall), has described the plan as a “tragedy” saying:

“It is the only purpose-built concert hall in all of Wales and it will be a tragedy if the country is left without a single one. Where it’s placed is also a major benefit to the wider economy. In the city centre it is a wonderful attraction for people to come to and see the rest of what Cardiff and its surroundings have to offer”.

The second of Cardiff’s main cultural venues, the New Theatre, currently receives a slightly lower subsidy of £800,000, but this is due to be cut in the council’s 2014/2015 budget plan. The proposal plans to cut subsidies for St David’s Hall and the New Theatre by an overall £530,000 over the next 12 months, a figure that means 700 full time jobs will be lost if the cuts go ahead.

Cuts to other public services

Other service cuts have also been mentioned in the proposal, including reductions in funds for youth schemes, children’s play centres and libraries.

The proposed cuts to Cardiff central library’s budget would mean redundancies, closing one day a week and complete closure of the local studies department which would be transferred to Glamorgan archives- still accessible to the public, but out of the city centre in Leckwith. All of these cost cutting measures would save the council around £500,000 a year.

Another service scheduled for cuts is street cleaning: the council has proposed that clean up services after big weekend events be moved to Mondays instead of Sundays to avoid having to pay staff overtime. The report also states that during cold spells gritting just main roads would save around £200,000.

Children’s play centres in Ely, Grangetown, Splott, Llanrumney, Llanedeym and St Mellons have also fallen victim to the council’s proposed budget cuts with many facing closure unless an outside organisation steps in to give financial support. Protests have taken place around Ely where the local Children’s play centre is described as a massive part of their community that they will not let go without a fight. With petitions being signed and communities enraged at the proposals, it looks like Cardiff council has many difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.

What the council have to say

Council leader Heather Joyce has spoken of the proposals, saying:

“This year we have had to face some very tough choices in trying to set the budget and everyone has been working hard to try and identify savings that can be made which protect our key priorities as well as minimising the impact on our service delivery. But with the scale of the task in front of us we have had no alternative but to suggest some very difficult things as we have to balance the budget and we have to keep on providing those services which have been prioritised such as education, the vulnerable and increasing opportunities to attract jobs and investment”.

The public have until 13th February to respond to the proposal, which will then be discussed by the Cabinet on 20 th February and then debated at a full council meeting on 27 th February. If you have concerns about the recent proposals then go to Cardiff council's website to have your say!

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