SCHOOL crossing patrols, community centres and play areas could all face the axe unless they are taken on by community councils.
Wrexham Council has given an ultimatum to all but six of the 34 community councils in the county to take on the running costs of some facilities or potentially face losing them.
Other services they are being asked to take on include public toilets, bowling greens and street lighting.
In a letter seen by the Leader Lawrence Isted, the authority’s head of community wellbeing and development, warns that unless the facilities are transferred to the ownership of community councils or another local organisation the council will consider all options including ‘cessation of the service or closure of the facility’.
It adds the facilities could face subsequent demolition of any buildings, dismantling of equipment and, where appropriate, sale of the site for an alternative use.
In his letter Mr Isted writes: “In the light of severe budget pressures, the council is reviewing the provision, management and funding of the community facilities that it provides in the county borough, including community centres, play areas, public conveniences, bowling greens, school crossing patrols and street lighting.
“While these facilities are highly valued, the council has no alternative but to concentrate its scarce resources.
“In the past the council has approached community councils for support with funding and/or running some of these facilities.
“The outlook for 2014/15 and beyond means that further proposals, significantly to reduce expenditure, are currently being considered by the council’s executive board.
“I would therefore be grateful if your community council could give careful consideration to taking over these facilities, fully funding them or, where appropriate, identifying and/or aiding local management committees, voluntary associations or community groups to take them over.”
Cllr Marc Jones, chairman of Caia Park Community Council, said: “Community councils are under the same pressure as the council. We don’t have a bottomless pit of money.
“The danger is the community council is taking on all these responsbilities and you have to ask what the county council is delivering.
“I think a bit more conversation with community councils is needed.”
Chairman of Gresford Community Council, Cllr Beryl Blackmore, said: “This has come as a shock, I think we will struggle to pay for all of this.
“In Gresford we’ve got some very good play areas and we certainly wouldn’t want to lose them. But I think we already take on too much for Wrexham Council.”
She added the community council was currently in the process of meeting with interested community groups in relation to taking over the running of the community centre.
Brymbo Community Council chairman, Cllr Ken Monti, said: “These are facilities that the borough council should take on and maintain, not throw them back at the community councils.
“We do our share as community council and so should they.”
Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers, said: “As a county councillor I do have concerns about the financial implications for community councils, it could potentially result in an increase in the community charge.”
Community councils have been given a deadline of October 18 to consider the proposals.
A total of 125 play parks have been listed for consideration, although 35 are protected and will remain in the control of the council thanks to external funding.
It is estimated that each of the 22 remaining school crossing patrols in the county would cost £3,500 a year to run.
Of the eight bowling greens maintained by the council the most expensive costs £3,610 a year.
Wrexham Council’s lead member for communities, partnerships and collaboration, Cllr Hugh Jones said: “No final decisions have been made.
“The council is exploring alternative ways of enabling services to be delivered at a time when the Welsh Government is cutting its funding to local councils.
“Regrettably, the council does not have the resources to support these further in the future.
“It would be a condition of community councils and community groups taking them over that they would finance the provision of these facilities.
“The council will look at ways in which we can assist and enable other bodies to provide these facilities.”
Once responses from community councils are received Wrexham Council’s executive board will consider the future of the facilities in November.
Cllr Jones said options would include whether to continue to finance them, to finance them in part or to close them down.