ANGER is growing over plans to shake up leisure services in Wrexham.
As reported in the Leader yesterday, Wrexham Council has outlined plans to build a leisure centre to replace Waterworld in the town centre by borrowing an estimated £11.9m and closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.
Consultants have stated an estimated £857,000 will be saved by closing Plas Madoc as well as closing gyms at Ysgol Clywedog and Queensway leisure centre, and handing back dual use facilities to schools, with the expection of Ysgol Clywedog’s swimming pool.
A further £535,000 will be saved if the leisure service management at the local authority is transfered to a Leisure Trust – resulting in total savings of £1.392m.
But residents of Plas Madoc have hit back at the plans and have launched a campaign to save their leisure centre, which consultancy firm The Sports Consultancy claim has reached the end of its designed life, with an estimated £1.7m needed to be spent to bring it up to standard in the next five years.
A Facebook page titled ‘Save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre’ has been backed by 2,000 members and a petition against the closure has received about 600 signatures.
A protest is also being organised before a meeting of Wrexham Council’s homes, environment and scrutiny committee, who are due to discuss the proposals tomorrow.
In a letter to the Leader, Ian Williams, 42, said: “My family uses it as do thousands of others in the area.
“Having recently been using the gym, I’ve gained lots of friends there – some young and some old. It's good to see the senior gym members coming every day to chat, have a laugh and work out the best they can. Where will they go now? Nowhere.
“I remember a few years ago that my son, who was 10 at the time, jumping in the deep end of a pool in Spain which was over 9ft in depth, happily larking about and treading water.
“Horrified I jumped up, went over, and saw he was fine. Where did he learn to swim? At Plas Madoc.”
The report by Cllr David Griffiths, lead member for health and adult social care, recommends that the council ought to “close, decommission and demolish” Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.
It says that the net operating cost of the centre, including capital charges, comes to £716,934 compared to £515,256 for Waterworld.
In a leisure strategy compiled by the Sports Consultancy, it states:
“Condition surveys were undertaken to help inform the strategy. These indicated that £2.9m of facility works should be undertaken on the portfolio in the next five years, 58 per cent of which relate to just one facility – Plas Madoc.
“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.
“Permanent closure of Plas Madoc has a negative impact in the overall supply but most users will be displaced to other facilities in the county borough without significant impact on accessibility for those currently using Plas Madoc, apart perhaps from those accessing via walking.
“There are alternative local pools, most notably Chirk and Oswestry (North Shropshire), which could accommodate increased use, as well as the potential replacement for Waterworld.
“Therefore, the impact of the closure of Plas Madoc can be mitigated through access to alternative facilities and the replacement of Waterworld, particularly if a larger, preferable, eight-lane pool option, is chosen.”
The report states that the 11 leisure centres run by Wrexham Council – Waterworld, Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, Gwyn Evans, Chirk, Queensway aplus the six dual use centres based at schools at Clywedog, Rhosnesni, Morgan Llwyd, Darland, Ruabon and Grango, cost the local authority £1.8m a year.
A Wrexham Council spokesman said: “The council is running a consultation until tomorrow that gives people the opportunity to submit their views on the draft budget proposals for the 2014/2015 financial year.
“The consultation can be accessed via our website www.wrexham.gov.uk/budgetproposals. Paper copies will also be available in Contact Wrexham, Wrexham Library and the Guildhall Reception.
“People can feedback theirs views on the draft budget proposals by completing the online feedback form www.surveymonkey.com/s/ReshapingServices, sending an email to email@example.com or writing to us at 3rd Floor Annexe, The Guildhall, Wrexham LL11 1AY.”