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Communities taking action to protect services

Innovative new licensing arrangements are now in place for all 39 community buildings owned by Swansea Council.

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The new arrangements will see the council continuing to pay for insurance and emergency maintenance, with community groups picking up running costs such as utility bills.

Income generated from the use of the buildings will now go direct to the community groups themselves for reinvestment back into the buildings and activities.

The new licences are part of an on-going Swansea Council drive called Community Action Swansea that's aimed at empowering communities and sustaining as many services as possible in the face of major budget cuts.

Community buildings owned by the council include community centres across the city as well as a number of pavilions used by senior citizens.

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Healthy City and Wellbeing, said: "As a council, we're at our most effective when helping people to live as independently as possible and helping communities to help themselves, so Community Action Swansea has been developed to deliver services that are suited for today's challenges and opportunities.

"It's hugely encouraging that we've been able to work in partnership with so many management committees across Swansea to change the licencing arrangements at our community buildings. The new arrangements will help protect the future of these services during a time of severe austerity, boost the skills of the residents taking action and give community building users more freedom and responsibility than ever before to control their own destinies, while saving the council money at the same time.

"But this is just one example of a huge amount of positive Community Action work that's taking place across Swansea for the benefit of both the council and residents."

Other recent success stories include leasing the Swansea Tennis Centre and the Swansea Indoor Bowls Stadium to user groups. The council has also met with the Swansea Senior and Junior Football Leagues about self-management arrangements for sports pitches that would see the council continuing to be responsible for maintenance and preparation, with the football clubs taking over responsibility for areas like opening, locking and cleaning changing rooms, and the setting up of nets and flags on match days. Several clubs have already started with this new arrangement, and several others will also be doing so when the new season kicks off next month.

Cllr Child said: "Despite the financial challenges we're facing, we're looking to be as innovative as possible to protect services. These are examples where communities and clubs have taken ownership of their futures, but we'd encourage others to follow suit.

"A new Community Asset Transfer Policy has now been approved by Cabinet and a number of funds are available to help communities, clubs and groups with the transition. As a council, we'll continue to be on hand to offer training, support and expertise as we look to develop more community partnerships in future."

Community organisations or clubs interested in taking over the running of facilities from the council should visit www.swansea.gov.uk/communityaction or call 01792 635415 for more information. 


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