ABOUT 500 people opposed to the shutdown of a much-loved Wrexham leisure centre created a human chain around the facility.
The protest against plans by Wrexham Council to close Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in Acrefair took place on Saturday.
The council, which needs to make budget saving targets of at least £45 million over the next five years, has proposed closing the leisure centre.
Consultants believe 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 the Ysgol Clywedog swimming pool.
But there has been widespread criticism of the plans from councillors, sports stars and users of Plas Madoc, many of whom gathered at the protest.
Father-of-three Dean Shone, from Brymbo, takes his three children to the leisure centre for swimming lessons.
He said: “These proposals are a disgrace. It’s not my kids and others of their generation who have created a crisis and making them pay through austerity is disgusting.”
Placards reading ‘We use it, don’t want to lose it’ could be seen and chants of “Save Plas Madoc” could be heard, along with plenty of whistle blowing as part of the noisy protest.
Cllr David A. Bithell, of the Wrexham Independents group on Wrexham Council, said: “If Plas Madoc closes this would leave no proper leisure services in the south of the borough and those who have health issues will be isolated and face even more travelling.”
Support for Plas Madoc has come from former Wales international footballer Robbie Savage, who used the centre when he was younger, and from Wrexham FC manager Andy Morrell.
There was also a smaller protest outside Waterworld in Wrexham on Sunday afternoon when about 30 people turned out to show their anger at plans to build a leisure centre to replace the facility by borrowing an estimated £11.9 million.
Paul Lindsey, from Wrexham, who has used the facility for 34 years, said: “The Waterworld building is one that is iconic in Wrexham. If it were to go, then it would be a disaster for the town.
“As far as I can see any consultation has been about Plas Madoc and loosely about other leisure services, but not about Waterworld.
“As a long term user, I just hope that someone asks us what we think.”
The future of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre had been due to be decided at a meeting of Wrexham Council’s executive board tomorrow, but after campaigners voiced their anger at the lack of time given to respond to the initial public consultation period, the deadline for replies has been extended to January 31.
Proposals will now before going to the executive board for a final decision on February 11.
Proposals up for debate
l 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.
l 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.
l 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.