Wrexham leisure centre closure vote was 'tough' choice

Published date: 20 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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UNDER-FIRE councillors who voted to close Plas Madoc Leisure Centre have said it was one of the hardest political decisions they have ever faced.

At a meeting of Wrexham Council’s executive board last week, members voted in favour of closing the Acrefair centre by a seven to two majority.

The closure plan is one of the most contentious decisions taken by the authority in recent years and was met with opposition from more than 2,000 consultation respondents, according to a report to last week’s meeting.

Now several of the members who supported the move have spoken out for the first time about the difficulty they found in doing so.

Cllr Malcolm King said: “I love Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.

“I am gutted to find myself in the position where I feel I have no choice but to support its closure, based on the evidence in front of us. The last few months have been very difficult to choose between cuts that no right-minded person would want to support.

“Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option and of course it is only going to get worse over the next few years, with much more painful decisions to come.

“As a Wrexham councillor for 25 years I have tried to help improve Wrexham for all of us.

“Destroying and dismantling things we have built together is a horrible, deeply upsetting process.

“Other people, far away from Wrexham are responsible for this mess but we have to pick up the pieces.”

Wrexham’s budget plans for the next financial year includes savings targets of more than £13 million, with £45 million of cuts projected for the next five years.

Cllr Hugh Jones, who voted for the closure, said the need to make savings had left the council with “very hard choices to make”:

He added: “None of us went into politics to close things like leisure centres and libraries, but we are having to do both. In relation to Plas Madoc, nobody has actually come forward with a viable scheme to help pay for it year on year.

“These are hard choices and difficult decisions, I think it must be one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make since I entered politics. This round of cuts as a whole has meant we have had to make difficult decisions, the worst I have seen.”

Cllr Bob Dutton said saving Plas Madoc would have meant cuts affecting vulnerable people: “We have to find £45m of savings from somewhere.

“If we didn’t find the money from leisure we would have had to find them from adult or social services and that could have a serious effect on the care of vulnerable people.

“It was a tough decision. I am very concerned that this particular centre is having to close unless we can find a way around it.

“We are interested in any proposal that will help find a way around the closure but the opposition have not come forward with any proposals that offer a solution to the problem.”

The 40-year-old centre will close in March but could be saved if a community social enterprise agrees to take over the running of the facility by June 30.

Councillors from the Wrexham Independent Group who disagree with the result of the executive board vote have called in the decision to close the centre.

The decision will go before a scrutiny committee within seven days and then go back before the executive board for the decision to be taken again.

The executive board’s decision had been due to go before the full council for approval next week.

Cllr Mark Pritchard declined to comment and the other councillors who voted to close the centre were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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  1. Posted by: Welsh Witch at 08:51 on 20 February 2014 Report

    Perhaps councillors would like to forgo their free parking, increase in 'salary', get rid of the Mayor's office, even take a cut in the money they take from the public purse? maybe then services such as leisure and libraries could remain open - they need to remember that they choose to go into politics to do 'good' in the community, not to line their own pockets

  2. Posted by: a cahill at 09:21 on 20 February 2014 Report

    An insult to the good folk of Wrexham from a man who is not only a councillor but a well paid chief officer of the children's playground the Venture.. tough decisions is just another excuse for lazy uncaring and remoteness from the real needs of communities in Wrexham

  3. Posted by: a cahill at 09:39 on 20 February 2014 Report

    And what of the great supporter of Democracy Mark Pritchard...couldn't get enough of it during the City Status despite a higher number of objectors he declines to comment...hiding behind consultants and in fear of losing his £33,000+ pa.....Democracy comes at a price I for Bob Dutton and Hugh Jones your Tory boss Carwyn Jones must be well proud of your attempts to tear the very heart out of our communities

  4. Posted by: toolio at 14:10 on 20 February 2014 Report

    Two years ago several councillors conducted a 5 hour survey in town as to what the public's view was on city status, 94% voted a resounding NO, so what do they do next, apply for city status. Question, What was the point in the survey in the first place ?

  5. Posted by: cynical at 15:25 on 20 February 2014 Report

    How Much is it going to cost to de-commission and demolish the Plas Madoc Lesiure Centre? Who will be awarded the contracts to do this? Is anything going to be built onto that particular bit of land?What,I wonder will it be?

  6. Posted by: maelor casual at 15:28 on 20 February 2014 Report

    Pritchard how do you sleep at night? Dutton you're past it. Rememeber these people at the next election. 13 years of Labour shame.

  7. Posted by: worldsgonemad at 16:45 on 20 February 2014 Report

    One laughable lame excuse after another...At least they had the balls to comment I suppose. This one tickled me though...Cllr Malcolm King said: “I love Plas Madoc Leisure Centre". Not as much as the Venture obviously...

  8. Posted by: 1massey at 01:05 on 21 February 2014 Report

    no comment, and councillors unavailable as leader went to press,thats what they say when they know their in the wrong,thats a civil servant,they havnt got a clue,remember when they want your vote,

  9. Posted by: logic at 07:36 on 21 February 2014 Report

    COUNCILLORS who needs them ? wrexham is big enough to be run by a 9 member committee, we dont need all these councillors, thay cost a lot of money whitch wrexham cant afford, so lets start cut backs on non essential personnel, no one in the council should be earning over £25.000 ayear so start the cut backs at the top greedy councillors

  10. Posted by: Mr.Gobbi at 08:48 on 21 February 2014 Report

    Savings/Cuts whatever you want to call them have to be made we are told therefore you look internally first so how come the free parking for councillors and certain other staff is still in place. Come on THE LEADER ask this question to WCBC as any free 'perks' given out should now be removed or is this freebie exempt from what this well run council is doing. (I say well run in jest by the way.)

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