SPORT provision in Powys was dealt a critical blow this week as Powys County Council confirmed plans to press ahead with £108k of cut backs.

Powys County Council’s cabinet approved proposals to slash 80 per cent of the annual sports budget at a meeting in Llandrindod Wells on Tuesday.

The decision represents a devastating blow to the county’s highly rated sports development unit, Sport Powys, which now faces an uncertain future with the motion to be heard by the full council on February 21.

It also means an uncertain future for the 13 staff currently employed to deliver sport across the county while every primary, secondary and special needs school could also see their sport provision decimated.

More than 350 sports clubs across Powys will also be badly affected without the support of Sport Powys.

An impact assessment carried out by the council confirmed the devastating cut backs would mean fewer events, competitions and activities being held in Powys and lead to a reduction in tourism.

The cabinet also accepted the reduction in sports development officers would mean the number of people participating in healthy and physical activity would decrease and put an end to the council’s priority of “leading the way in effective, integrated rural healthcare.”

The cabinet also went ahead with the plans despite accepting it would mean a reduction in the number of people gaining qualifications and undertaking training while leading to a “significant lack of sports coaches, instructors and professional persons to support physical activity in Powys.”

Remarkably the cabinet also went ahead with the unprecedented cut backs despite accepting the decision would mean “residents and communities not having opportunities currently available and would lead to a heavier burden on the Health Service.”

The cabinet also accepted the cut backs would mean decreased collaboration with other sports organisations, less community engagement, a failure to achieve council objectives and increased rural deprivation and physical poverty.

Earlier this year Powys County Council ceased financial support for the annual Montgomeryshire and Brecknock and Radnorshire sports awards while this month the long and protracted land hand over of sport and recreation land in Newtown was completed.

However the authority has continued to slash its budget with the latest cut backs to sport provision coming in the same week as a 9.5 per cent council tax hike.

The devastating decision will also represent a hammer blow for sport across the county.

The region has long developed a reputation for developing top level athletes with Forden’s Andrew Davies and Llandrindod Wells’ Ffion and Rhianwedd Price and Heidi Davies representing Great Britain in long distance running while Welshpool’s Adele Nicoll is a British and Welsh international shot putting star.

Newtown’s Sian Swanson is a Welsh triple jump champion, Trefeglwys hurdler Lauren Williams is a GB international while Dan Lydiate of Abbeycwmhir is a Welsh and British Lions rugby international.

The news stirred anger with Newtown High School physical education teacher John Thurston highlighting the council’s decision had been made in the same week as UK Government Sports Minister Mims Davies called for an increase in school sport.

“Powys County Council decimating the Sport Powys budget will result in a significant decrease of sport in schools,” said Thurston. “Pupils of all ages in Powys will have a reduction in sport as a result of Powys County Council’s decision.”

A Powys County Council spokesman said: “The cabinet recommended the budget which will now be heard by the full council.

“The council is facing significant financial pressure and conduced a budget impact assessment. The decision will now be made by the full council next week.”