A boxing club in Burry Port, which has also had autistic children using the facilities is set to close.
The closure has ignited yet another argument within the ranks of the Town Council, which has been at odds over a number of issues for some time.
Some members of the Labour Group within the council argue that a non democratic structure has been established and that they have lost any ability to represent their constituents and influence the decision making process as they are outnumbered.
Speaking to Llanelli Online Cllrs John James and Amanda Fox claim that a number of organisations have stopped using the Memorial Hall because of increased fees. These they say include a dementia support group, a rugby group an *opera group and now the latest being the boxing club and they claim that the pressure of increased fees will continue to send people packing. *(It has been pointed out that the opera group still rehearse at the hall).
Cllr Fox said: “The town needs somewhere for the young people to go but the fees are to high. You should have low rates for your local organisations and charities. We were voted in to work for the community of Burry Port. We helped the dementia club and we were accused of doing it for political gain.”
Cllr James said that people are just about managing and every time fees go up it hits the families in the pocket. He said: “We are not a business but at the moment it is being run as a business. We should be supporting the community. We can try and get funding like Section 106 money. Amanda and myself topped the pole at the elections and now they are trying to put in a motion to stop us taking any leading part in the council.”
Responding to claims that the boxing club closure is somehow the fault of the majority rule at the Town Council Cllr Mike Theodolu said: “The Town Council agreed a policy, when Labour were in control, to set rents and not to reduce or give preferential treatment to anyone. This was a proposal from me in an attempt to stop the historic unfairness caused by Councillors reducing rents for organisations close to them or in which their relatives had an interest.
“To ensure that the Council supported local not for profit organisations we did two things. Firstly we established three levels of rent to be charged. The highest for commercial companies who are charged what we consider to be the market rent, the middle range for community organisations outside our area and the lowest for local not for profit groups. Typically the difference in the rent charged to a private company and that for a local community group is that the local community group would pay under half the commercial rent.
“Secondly we established a grant scheme so that local community groups can be further assisted by the Town Council. It was hoped that this will be a fairer and more transparent way of assisting local groups and avoid the historic preference given on the basis of ‘’who you know’’.
“Recently the Council has been criticised for not reducing and giving preferential treatment to the Dementia group by Cllr. Amanda Fox who failed to mention that the group had received five different grants from the Council or declare that her husband was a trustee of the organisation she wanted preferential treatment for.
“In terms of the boxing club I have met with Tom Shaw who informed me that the club was facing challenges and that the main one was that the qualified boxing trainers had reduced their time to the club and that it was proving difficult to replace them. He also said that numbers had dropped and I gave him advice on the grant scheme and gave him the forms to fill in as well as offering him any other help he may need.
“His decision to close the club is sad and one that is not entirely based on the rent and other fixed overheads.
“To respond to your more detailed questions, the rents are set by the Council’s Fees and Charges sub-committee and approved by the full Council. Rents are reviewed on an ongoing basis taking many factors into account and they are all subject to an inflation based increase once a year.”
Some local parents have taken to social media to air their views. Beverley Hurley said that she was saddened by the closure of the boxing club as he son Brandon used it twice a week. She said that she now has to take him to Trostre to train.
Another, J Eydman wrote: “I would like to declare my disappointment at the closure of this well respected boxing club in Burry Port, my son and some of his friends have been attending here regularly on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday for training and have found it an excellent resource for keeping fit and learning discipline. They are all so upset with the closure as there is not a lot of things for them to do in this area and this has proved invaluable. The staff at the club have been brilliant and have been training our children in their own time which has shown their dedication in helping to improve their future. There needs to be more help for clubs such as this with more funding – not increasing the rental fees so high that they could not longer continue to keep running . This will in turn help to improve the future for our children. We all need to say a huge Thank you to the staff who ran this club for their dedication and commitment they have shown .”
Burry Port Town Council were set to discuss fees at their meeting this evening, Tuesday (Apr 10).