Wrexham: Protest Planned Against Cuts To Leisure Services

A protest against the potential closure of two of Wrexham’s biggest leisure centres is set to take place this month.

On January 11 campaigners will participate in a ‘peaceful but noisy protest’ against the possible closure and demolition of Waterworld and Plas Madoc. The protest will take place at midday outside Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, and supporters are encouraged to come along and make their voices heard.  Further information can be found on the ‘Save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre’ Facebook page.

The protest will take place just days before the Executive Board meet on the 14th to discuss the future of the two facilities.

The two leisure centres were tipped for closure in December 2013 as part of Wrexham Council’s review of local services. The review comes as a result of budget cuts / savings of around £45m over the next five years.

In a Homes, Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting last month, consultants ran through their findings of their leisure review in Wrexham. In an accompanying report to the meeting it states: “Plas Madoc is considered to have reached the end of its designed life and spending £1.7m on the recommended work is not considered good value for money.”

It is estimated that around £886,000  could be saved if significant changes are made to the leisure facilities in town, including the closure of Plas Madoc and handing back dual use facilities to schools.

However it was proposed that an £11.9m replacement facility, containing an eight lane 20 metre ‘county standard’ pool, is built on the Waterworld site. You can read our full report from December’s meeting here.

A petition to save the centres has also been launched and has so far generated over 800 signatures. The petition states that “Closing these pools is a short-sighted decision. It will mean fewer children learn to swim, with potentially tragic results.

“It will reduce opportunities for exercise for young and old alike at a time when we are meant to be combating inactivity. The council is cutting back on frontline services without tackling its own bureaucracy and overspending.” You can sign the petition here.

Campaigner Darrell Wright said: “We’re organising a peaceful but noisy protest for all the community outside Plas Madoc at mid-day on Saturday, January 11th, to show how much our leisure centre means to us. This is where local children learn to swim and play, where adults can use a gym and other sports facilities and where people can get rehab in the community. Lots of various sports groups meet there and will be left homeless if the council presses ahead with these short-sighted plans.

“We want people to turn up with pots and pans to make some noise as well as wearing their sports gear.

“This has all happened so suddenly just before Christmas and many people we’ve spoken to while collecting signatures on our petitions were unaware of the threat to close. So we’ve got to act quickly and make sure everyone puts pressure on the 10 councillors on the executive board to consider the impact on the community before the close these sporting facilities.

“We hope the thousands who are on our Facebook page, the thousands who have already signed our petitions and everyone who is against this foolish plan will turn out on the 11th to show their support. We will also be lobbying the meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday, January 14th.”

However campaigners who are fighting to keep Plas Madoc and Waterworld open have said the scheme would only save £97,000 a year.

The campaigners met this week to build opposition to Wrexham Council’s plan to close the two swimming pools and leisure centres. Campaigners say the proposed savings by closing the two centres and building a new smaller pool complex next door to the existing Waterworld site would only save £97,000 a year

Alison Roberts, for the campaign, said: “The savings of £886,000 do not account for any demolition or site clearance costs, which are likely to be substantial. I think we need to question the reliability of the repairs and maintenance costs. The huge and disproportionate figure given for Plas Madoc was derived from a conditional survey, based on a visual assessment. We question this and request an independent in-depth assessment to ascertain true and reliable figures.

“These are well-used leisure facilities that our communities want to maintain. It’s vital that the council takes that on board before making any decision.”

The use of Sports Consultants in the Leisure Review has also been questioned over the past few weeks. On December 29 we reported that over £51,000 had been spent on consultants for the leisure review of the town.

In an FOI (Freedom of Information Request), which was submitted via website WhatDoTheyKnow.com by former senior surveyor Mr Michael Edwards, it was revealed that a total of £51,760 was spent on consultants involved in the leisure review. You can read our report here.

The expenditure and use of consultants was questioned during last months meeting, with one member of the public gallery shouting that the money spent on consultants was ‘shocking’. During the meeting it was also requested by Chairman, Councillor David Kelly that the amount spent on consultants was revealed. However this was not possible as it would fall under ‘Part 2′ guidelines.

The Council Executive Board will meet on January 14 to discuss the future of the leisure facilities. The meeting is open to the public, so pop along!

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