THE founder of an under-threat children’s play centre has pleaded with council bosses to soften proposed cuts.
Malcolm King said staff at the Venture centre in Caia Park, Wrexham, are ready to ‘share the pain’ other bodies face as the public sector is rocked by the credit crunch.
But he said it emerged on Friday that Wrexham County Borough Council is proposing to cut funding to Venture not only from £173,000 to £40,000 by July 1 but is then planning to ‘taper’ funding to zero during the next four years.
Mr King, a Wrexham councillor, said any cut to £40,000 or less would mean closure.
He said: “We hope to change that (the cut from £173,000) so any reduction is phased.
“I would not say we would be keen on a reduction. But if the rest of the council is being cut by 2% or 5%, for us to argue we should be different is a little bit offensive.
“I am uncomfortable if everybody doesn’t share more or less equal pain. If other organisations get a 5% cut, I would feel comfortable if we got a 10 or 15% cut.”
Cllr King said dropping funding to £40,000 would be ‘drastic’ and mean closure.
He added: “We understand this will take effect on July 1. As things stand, the Venture will then have to close, despite the fact that more than £330,000 has been secured from 12 other funders to support our services for the rest of the financial year.
“This is because nearly all that money has to be spent on specific projects, leaving little for core costs like heating and lighting, insurance, key staff and cleaning.”
Opened in 1978, Venture has 600 registered children and employs 25 full- or part-time staff.
Wrexham Council wants to switch funding from Venture to broken families on Caia Park’s deprived estate.
Council chiefs insist almost £300,000 from the National Assembly for Wales over three years to Venture should keep it going.
Wrexham council’s director of children’s services, Terry Garner, said: “The council is not looking to close the Venture.”