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Muni closed yet again

2018 Rhagfyr 23 1:28 AM

The Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd has closed its doors yet again after the management committee were finally forced to admit the financial difficulties that have beset them for some time.

The theatre was closed by RCT Council as part of a cost cutting exercise four years ago and handed it over to a community management committee who obtained grant funding from various sources to reopen it. However, it has been beset by problems ever since, from the delayed opening, through various allegations of staffing issues and debt, through to the receivers finally being called in and its staff made redundant on the 22nd December.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell said the problems had been apparent for some time, despite being strenuously denied by the committee.

"A year ago I warned that there were problems there following approaches that had been made to me by former staff, but the committee vehemently denied in press statements that there were problems, and stated that it was going 'from strength to strength.'

"I argued against its closure when the Labour Cabinet announced it in 2014 - a money saving exercise on their part, shutting the Muni whilst keeping theatres in the Rhondda and Cynon open. I questioned their decision to hand it over to a voluntary committee without what I thought was an adequate business plan and long term prospects. My concerns were, however, brushed aside by local Labour politicians, some of whom had a direct involvement in the project.

"My concern now, apart from the fact that this facility may be lost for good to the area, is that many of the people involved in this project are, or have been, also involved in the YMCA scheme. Councillor Steve Carter, Jonathan Huish, Wendy York, Rhianydd Jenkins. A check with company's house shows quite a cross over.

"Like the Muni scheme the YMCA project has been backed by the Labour run RCT Council, and Labour MP Owen Smith. Will we be seeing yet more public money thrown away on non-sustainable projects?

"What is even more puzzling is that Owen Smith tweeted that 'there are good reasons why it (the Muni) has had to close and a plan to secure its future.' This suggests that he knew there was a problem there and has had some recent involvement in what is going on. I am sure the staff who have just been made redundant and all those who have booked tickets for events would like to know just what he knows."

Owen Muni