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Newtown Town Council to discuss taking over services Powys no longer wishes to run

Mid Wales | News | Published:

Newtown Town Council will discuss taking over a number of county council services, including the town's library, public toilets, playgrounds and sports fields.

Representatives of the council are set to meet with a number of smaller community councils to debate the possibility of creating a "cluster" to deliver services which Powys County Council (PCC) no longer wishes to run.

They will also be meeting with PCC officials this month to confirm which services are eligible for them to take over.

Currently a variety of services are being offered by the county council as it looks to cut around £12 million from its annual budget.

They include, local bus routes, street cleaning, tourist information, playgrounds, sports fields, open spaces, day centres and libraries.

Newtown's deputy mayor, Councillor Richard Edwards said that while the town council would not rule out taking on any service, some would only be realistic by grouping councils together in a cluster.

A number of councils surrounding Newtown will be involved in the clustering discussions, including Llandyssil, Kerry, Montgomery, Churchstoke, Berriew, Aberhafesp and Caersws.

Llanidloes' councils will also be asked to consider if they wish to join the cluster.

Cllr Edwards said: "If no one chooses to form a cluster and it is Newtown on its own then obviously we would struggle to take on some of the bigger services, such as libraries and day centres, because we simply could not afford them. You need to be in a cluster to provide those services with access to greater resources and a greater precept to be able to do it."

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Cllr Edwards said the council's aim is to prevent a loss of services to the public.

He said: "It is a case of if this service is being taken away, how can we stop it from being taken away?

"We would not rule anything out as a council but if we take anything on we will need to build an appropriate business plan for it.

"It needs to have a business model that is sustainable for the future, and that might mean the library or day centres, which I know another group is looking at, will have to be worked with local charity groups and community groups to deliver the services."

Cllr Edwards also insisted that community councils must feel as though they want to join in the clustering process.

He said: "We know that some people feel they are being taken over even before we get into any details. We do not want to be heavy handed. We are trying to find a co-operative way of working together and an important thing is to protect the services in the future, otherwise they are going to go. It is all about co-operation."

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