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Chamber set for £658k upgrade

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

Comments (5)

SOMBRE but well-appointed, Swansea Council's debating chamber is not normally the sort of room people get excited about, writes Richard Youle.

But excitement abounded at Wednesday night's budget meeting when the Labour administration revealed plans for a £658,000 upgrade.

You can imagine Carol Smillie and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen really going to town with that sort of cash.

Liberal Democrat councillor Cheryl Philpott wondered if her ears had deceived her. She said: "I just wondered if it was a bit of a luxury at this time."

Councillor Rob Stewart, cabinet member for finance, did not quite allay concerns when he replied that the £658,000 sum was just an "indicative amount".

Alarm bells rang — figuratively — when he added: "Asbestos removal is going to cost a lot in this chamber."

He also said that £658,000 was in the upper bracket for a range of renovation schemes under consideration, which were designed to open up the chamber to a wider audience via broadcast debates.

Lib Dem councillor Peter Black said asbestos only needed removing when it had been deemed unsafe, and wondered what tests had been carried out. Head of democratic services, Huw Evans, rode to the rescue, explaining that the large chamber only had four electrical sockets.

This was one of the easier stats to digest on the night.

To rewire the chamber for the purpose of broadcasting debates, said Mr Evans, meant accessing the roof — and that meant removing the asbestos.

Meanwhile, the council agreed to spend £1 million on a new roof for Swansea Market, £550,000 on the Bascule bridge at Morfa, £400,000 rebuilding Langland Bay sea wall, £250,000 on a new Penlan Leisure Centre roof, £200,000 on a new cycle way for Mumbles Road and £150,000 on coastal defence at West Cross.

Spending on all capital projects is expected to come to £50 million in 2013/14, with the ongoing rebuild of Morriston Comprehensive School alone accounting for nearly £14 million.

Over the next three years, the Labour administration also pledged to spend £88 million on council housing.

The council was warned it may have to sell its assets to balance its books. Only a small fraction of the £12 million forecast from school land sales two years ago had materialised. A bigger list of school sites for potential sale is currently being drawn up.

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  • Philosoraptor  |  February 18 2013, 10:56AM

    What we will see on TV, and what they will say and decide in their own offices are completely different things.

  • weslangdon  |  February 18 2013, 9:40AM

    Am I missing something here, surely the council has 2 chambers the one in the Guildhall and the one in County Hall, which one needs the upgarde?

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  • bennyhill4  |  February 17 2013, 10:46AM

    nice-nails, i think this is a great idea, at least if they are on the telly people will be able to see what sort of a performance they put in at the council meetings. Once you see some of them, you'd never vote for them again, and others you would be impressed with. At least that is my opinion of them when i have attended council meetings

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  • nice_nails  |  February 16 2013, 12:19PM

    This is excellent news, the time of cutbacks is finally over, Swansea City must be a thriving City if they can afford frivolous spending on this scale, just to get the reality councilors on the telly..

  • brochadav  |  February 16 2013, 9:31AM

    Why do they want to broadcast council meetings? Who is really interested? It will just give us more to complain about, of that I'm sure. Maybe we're better off not knowing, specially at that cost!! I also find it worrying that more school land will be sold off. Surely in these days of rising obesity school kids need room for exercise. I hope it's not football and rugby pitches they are selling.