PROTESTERS have vowed to fight to save their leisure centre.
Campaigners gathered yesterday outside Wrexham Guildhall with placards proclaiming ‘Save Our Leisure Centres’.
It came as members of Wrexham Council’s homes, environment and communities scrutiny committee met to discuss an overhaul of leisure services.
The proposal includes 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 six miles down the road.
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 exception of Ysgol Clywedog’s pool.
A further £535,000 will be saved if the leisure service management at the local authority is transferred to a leisure trust – resulting in total savings of nearly £1.4m.
But residents have hit back at the plans for Plas Madoc, which consultancy firm The Sports Consultancy claims 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.
Speaking at the meeting resident Darryl Wright said: “The personal side has been forgotten about in this minefield of statistics.
“We’re mortgaging the future of our kids. Last night there was a constant flow of people using the gym. We’re not just talking about profits – it’s there to help people.”
He also highlighted concerns about people from Plas Madoc having to travel to Wrexham.
Brian Bradley said: “Nobody seems to give a toss for the community in the area. We all know what you’re going to do, but it is the council’s job to look after the community.”
One member of the public shouted from the public gallery criticising the council’s spending on consultants.
Committee chairman Cllr David Kelly asked whether the cost of employing The Sports Consultancy could be made public but was told by officers that it was contained within a confidential report.
Defending the proposals Cllr David Griffiths, lead member for health and adult social care, said: “No decisions have been made and today is part of the consultation process.
“Members will be aware the council has got to fund substantial savings over the next five years.
“The leisure service is a discretionary service that costs the council £1.8m a year.
“I hope to be able to recommend to you a way forward that will remove those liabilities.”
The authority’s head of assets and economic development, Steve Bayley, highlighted issues with the wave machine at Plas Madoc as an example of the problems being faced with ageing facilities.
But Plas Madoc councillor Paul Blackwell said: “It seems with the cuts taking place in the county that everything is focused on the town centre and if you’re outside the town centre, you’re stuffed.
“People want the Plas Madoc facility to stay open. They don’t want to go to a town centre facility.”
And Cllr Bob Dutton questioned whether contracting leisure services to a trust would offer savings to the local authority.
Ultimately councillors, after the chairman had used his casting vote, decided in favour of recommending the demolition of Plas Madoc .
But they added the caveat that a smaller replacement facility for Plas Madoc should be considered.
They also voiced their support for transferring the management of the leisure service to an existing leisure trust and to seek to transfer the management of dual use leisure centres to schools.
And they approved consideration of options for funding the replacement facility for Waterworld.
The proposed new centre could be built on the Crown Buildings site and would include an eight-lane 25-metre pool, a 250 seat stand, a learner pool, a leisure water area, a 120-station health and fitness area and two fitness studios.
The proposals will have to go before the authority’s executive board before they are approved.