GRAVE concerns have been raised about the future of children’s summer playschemes in Flintshire.
Summer holiday activity groups that have taken years to build up are facing the axe due to a cut in funding.
Councillors attending a meeting of Flintshire’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee said they were concerned.
Funding was only available for two activity schemes per town or community council area, the committee was told, though many, such as Buckley, currently run as many as five.
Leisure services officer Mike Welch said there had been a major reduction in funding from Welsh Government that could not be replaced.
A letter had been sent to town and community councils to ask if they could make up the shortfall from their own funds with match funding.
Lifelong learning director Ian Budd said: “The picture is still uncertain as to what the service will look like this summer.
“Once we know what funding is available we will have a clearer picture.”
But committee chairman Cllr Ian Roberts said: “Flint (town council) will make up £40,000 in match funding next year,” including CCTV, playschemes, play areas and town centre heritage.
“It’s not just an endless begging bowl the county council can come to to make up any shortfall in funding.
“Match funding is now taking such a large proportion of town and community council budgets they are fixed and don’t have anything left to do other things within the community.
“The idea town and community councils are this cash cow has got to stop at some point.”
Summer playschemes operate across the county in about 70 venues, providing play activities for thousands of children throughout the summer holidays in a supervised environment.
Cllr Carolyn Thomas said: “I don’t see why it’s too late to do anything about it this year.
“It’s really important for children in some areas,” she said. “If they haven’t got any schools in that area it’s often the only way for children to meet.
“If we look at missing a year, we lose consistency. We’ve built it up over the years, it’s great and we don’t want to lose it.”
Mr Budd said officers were working with individual town and community councils and said it wasn’t the case everyone had to have the same regardless of demand.
He said two playschemes was not a maximum allowance, it was simply what there was funding for. If more funding could be found, more schemes could run.
Other options included dropping five week playschemes to three to release funds to run more than two.
The committee moved to set up a task and finish group to work with officers and review the summer’s arrangements.
- THE issue of the summer playscheme was discussed at a meeting of Flint Town Council.
Currently the council pays less than £5,000 but from 2013 the council would face paying almost £11,000 to cover the costs of the same schemes.
However, it is now expected the scheme would run for three weeks in the summer holiday rather than five.
Cllr Ian Roberts expressed his disappointment at the number of schemes in the town potentially being cut and complained there may be a limit of just two playschemes.
Currently several are in operation in the town each summer.
Cllr Roberts said: “We are not prepared to see the loss of any playschemes.
“Children throughout the town are entitled to this play provision.”