A PUBLIC meeting is taking place next week as part of the continuing fight to save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.
The meeting will be held at Air Products Social Club in Acrefair on Thursday, March 13, starting at 7pm.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, one of the driving forces behind a cross-community working group trying to keep the facility in Acrefair open, said the loyalty shown to the centre during the campaign against Wrexham Council’s plan to bulldoze it must endure if there is any hope for its future.
Mr Skates said good progress is being made in the battle and the public meeting would give more details about how a community-owned leisure facility could be run.
“We are approaching the potential of Plas Madoc with broad minds and ambition,” said Mr Skates.
“Our vision is to secure its future and ensure it rediscovers its place at the heart of the Clwyd South community.
“I have been humbled by the support offered by experts and residents and I would like to thank the working group’s members for stepping up to help, without hesitation or fear.
“We want to succeed in saving Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, we need people to keep using it and to stay loyal to the centre.”
Mr Skates stressed it was important to have a united campaign to give Plas Madoc a strong future.
“The fight for its survival has at times been divisive and heated, which is not unexpected as people care passionately about the facility.
“But we must now all come together and work for something that unites us – a lasting future for Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.”
Mr Skates added the working group’s rescue plans would involve Plas Madoc Leisure Centre transferring to community ownership, with a new governance structure and minimal impact on staffing or services.
He said similar structures for operating leisure centres already exist across the UK, one of the best known being Greenwich Leisure Limited which was established in 1993 and runs many of London’s leisure centres.
Such ownership of leisure services would enable savings to be made where councils cannot make them, as well as opening up capital funding opportunities, Mr Skates said.
On February 26, members of Wrexham Council’s scrutiny committee voted to refer the decision to close, decommission and demolish the centre back to the local authority’s executive board after it was called in by a group of independent councillors.
Councillors asked the executive board to consider pushing back the planned demolition until October 1 to give the community group a realistic chance of coming up with a viable takeover bid.
Later in the same day a full council revenue budget for next year – containing the plan to close and demolish the centre – was approved in a full meeting of Wrexham Council.
Darrell Wright, of the Save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre campaign, said the executive board will meet on March 11 and the vote it takes will be crucial.
“We will do anything and talk to anyone if it means saving Plas Madoc,” said Mr Wright.
“One of the options we’re looking at is a community trust to run the centre and we met with others to discuss that further on Friday last week.
“There was some progress in terms of examining the finances and feasibility.
“But the over-riding feeling of the meeting was that the council has to keep the centre open and fully functioning until at least October or until the trust is ready to take over.
“Without that, a community takeover would be a non-starter. So it’s absolutely crucial the council’s executive board votes on March 11 to keep the doors open until October to enable a trust to carry out due diligence, set up a democratic structure, find the funding streams and get expert legal, financial and technical advice.
“Without that guarantee, the council would be condemning the trust to failure and washing its hands of a great community facility.
“We urge everyone to keep the pressure up on the executive board to change its mind ahead of March 11.”