Closing Ebbw Cale Cableway seen as ‘less painful’ option than front-line service cuts, council leader says

CLOSING the Ebbw Vale Cableway is seen as “a less painful option” than front-line service cuts, a council leader has said.

The closure is estimated to save £41,000 this year which is part of £6.6 million worth of cost-cutting measures in Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s budget for 2023/2024

The lift, which cost £2.3 million, has been plagued with breakdowns since it opened in 2015.

During a public consultation process on the 2023/2024 budget in January and February, the majority of people didn’t see paying for the cable car as a priority.

The authority has asked residents the question “What is acceptable,” as it prepared to reform services and outline the grim reality of where potential cuts and savings will need to be made.

In total 3,740 people commented on the proposals – the highest level of public response the council has received for a budget consultation.

The vast majority chose to give funding priority to schools and social services.

Blaenau Gwent’s council leader Labour’s Cllr Steve Thomas said: “A series of savings proposals, financial efficiencies and income-generating projects were put together.

“All these were outlined to residents and stakeholders in an online survey and at face-to-face engagement events.

“Within this survey, 60 per cent of residents said the Cableway closure was very acceptable, acceptable or neutral.

“Of course, none of the councillors wanted to stop the use of the link, but when stacked against other possible front line service cuts, it was deemed to be one of the less painful options.

“The decision was to mothball the mechanical link for now whilst alternative external funding options for it are explored; that work is currently ongoing.”

Welsh Conservatives shadow transport minister Natasha Ashgar MS said: “Many people questioned the point of the lift in the first place, and we now know that is has proven to be a costly and unreliable service.

“Whilst it may have encouraged more people to walk, surely steps and a more basic lift would have done the same job with less hassle.”

Ms Ashgar said there were “concerns” that the empty site could become a flashpoint for vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

For the second year running Blaenau Gwent languishes at the bottom of the funding table and only 6.5 per cent increase – which is well below the Wales average of 7.9 per cent.

It will receive £140 million from the Welsh Government with the remaining £38 million coming from council tax.

In February councillors voted for a 3.45 per cent council tax increase.


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