CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save county leisure centres have questioned if projected savings targets from the move would ever be realised.
People rallying to keep open Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in Acrefair and Waterworld Leisure Centre in Wrexham have met as opposition grows to Wrexham Council’s plan to close and replace them with a new £11.9 million facility in Wrexham town centre.
They claim the £886,000 the council predicts the closures will save will not be achieved and the true annual savings figure would be closer to £97,000 a year.
They argue the lower figure takes into account the annual cost of building the new facility in Wrexham, which would be £789,000 per year – according to figures in a report by The Sports Consultancy, an external consultancy firm employed by Wrexham Council to undertake its leisure review.
Earlier this week a former senior surveyor for Wrexham Maelor Council slammed the near £52,000 spent on using the company to provide expert advice.
Now other campaigners are questioning the savings assertions.
Alison Roberts, part of the campaign to save the centres, 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 the council takes that on board before making any decision.”
The council’s executive board will vote on January 14 on whether to go ahead with the closure proposal and the campaign is planning to unite local communities in a mass protest on the Saturday before outside Plas Madoc.
Fellow campaigner Darrell Wright said: “We are organising a peaceful but noisy protest for all the community outside Plas Madoc at midday on Saturday, January 11, 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.
“We hope the thousands who are on our Facebook page, the thousands who have already signed our petitions and everyone who is against this plan will turn out on the 11th to show their support.
“We will also be lobbying the meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday, January 14.”
In response to Mrs Roberts’ comments, a Wrexham Council spokesman said: “The proposal to close Plas Madoc is one of a range of cuts in excess of £13 million which the council has to make in order to present a balanced budget for 2014-15.
The leisure proposals will be discussed by executive board on January 14 before a recommendation is made to full council to be held in February.”