CHANGES have been made to create a combined central hub for a Flintshire town.
Holywell Leisure Centre is now a registered non-for-profit charity and will be operating with 27 members of staff who have transferred from Flintshire Council.
The council previously owned the leisure centre, but after various budget challenges it is divesting itself of many services that it has no statutory obligation to provide, such as leisure services and sports centres.
Thea Cartwight, three, from Lloc, gets some books from librarian Simon Richardson after her swim in the Holywell Leisure Centre pool, which is used by 15 Flintshire schools
Holywell Library is still owned by the council and is now located in the leisure centre after receving £120,000 from the Welsh Government last year to help develop and enhance services.
The rest of the centre will become an independently run enterprise from St David’s Day on March 1.
In the last 18 months a group of volunteers from Holywell have been in negotiations with Flintshire Council to achieve the best possible outcomes for the town and its surrounding communities.
Supervisor James Kerrigan and Tudor Jones, chairman of the leisure centre’s board of trustees
The group has many plans to create a combined central hub for Holywell and is hoping to have the centre’s cafe reopened after a five year closure in the next few months.
Tudor Jones, chairman of the board of trustees, said: “There were four bids to take up the tenancy of the cafe which is great news.
“In 2015, we had a massive response of over 1,000 to our survey and it was clear that people had many good ideas on how we can improve on what is offered at the centre.
“A new cafe was one and a soft play area was another and it’s great that we can make this possible in the next few months.”
A new soft play area will be located in the centre’s current meeting room order to put the space “into more primary use” according to Mr Jones.
Plans were also confirmed by the chair regarding the use of the consultant room located next to the cafe.
This will be used by Delyn MP David Hanson to hold advice surgeries for Holywell residents and for various other consultations.
Holywell Leisure Centre’s board of trustees are also in talks with Coleg Cambria for daytime classes to be held at the centre and a new community studio has been created to relocate clubs who previously used the space where the library is now located, such as martial arts and dance clubs.
Mr Jones added: “The support we’ve been offered from the local business community has been excellent and we’re hoping for a similar response to our appeal for practical support by members of the community. General assistance, DIY, admin, IT, social media – if people have a skill or the energy to do something to help we’d like to know who you are.
“The new business will be not-for-profit and what’s paid at the door is how it will pay its way. It is very much a case of use it or lose it.
“The new year has got off to an excellent start with the introduction of more fitness classes which have been fully booked.
“The board have had to make some difficult decisions, the biggest being the reduction in staff members. The board and staff have great determination to make this a success for the town and surrounding communities.
“Holywell without its much-loved leisure centre is unthinkable. It is not just a leisure centre, it’s a community centre.”