PLAS Madoc Leisure Centre will close its doors in seven weeks’ time, it was confirmed yesterday.
But plans to demolish the Acrefair centre have been pushed back to give a rescue group longer to beef up a viable bid to run it themselves.
Wrexham Council’s executive board voted to approve a recommendation to give a cross-community working group led by AM Ken Skates until October to take over the running of the facility.
But the centre will close to the public on April 27 and will be demolished if the community group fails in its quest to take it on before October 1.
The group had originally been given a deadline of June 30 to come up with a takeover plan but, after the executive board’s decision was called in by a group of independent councillors, the matter was sent back before the executive board, which debated the issue again yesterday.
Members were asked by a scrutiny committee to also consider keeping the centre open until July 1, with reduced opening hours to offset the extra cost before mothballing the facility.
But Cllr David Griffiths, lead member for health and adult social care, said keeping it open until July as per the scrutiny committee’s recommendation would cost about £50,000 more than the £130,000 needed to close the facility at the “earliest practical date” of April 27 and mothball it until the October deadline.
And the working group’s request to keep the facility running until October would incur an extra £114,000 in costs, he said.
Cllr Griffiths said this would lead to the closure of libraries or other services and the decision to close the centre but delay the demolition “struck the right balance”.
He said a delay could jeopardise plans to build a new £11.9m facility replacing Plas Madoc and Waterworld in Wrexham.
He added: “We are tasked with making sure Wrexham has a leisure service taking it into the next 40 years. We haven’t got the monney to do that and keep Plas Madoc open. It’s a catch-22 situtation.”
But Cllr David Taylor said closing the facility at the end of April would mean even if a deal was struck to transfer the running, “a good percentage” of customers would go elsewhere in the five months the centre was being mothballed.
And calling for the council to use capital reserves to keep it open, Cllr Taylor said the group could be left with a “dormant, stagnant, closed centre which has lost it’s customer base”.
Head of community wellbeing and development Lawrence Isted said closing the Acrefair centre should not affect its ability to re-open if the community group are successful in taking it over.
He said: “Time is money. Each month we keep this centre open will cost money that we have to find somewhere else and that means cutting services.”
He added added discussions had not been held over what to do with the land if the demolition, which could cost £300,000, goes ahead but said it could be used for residential purposes.
Cllr Paul Blackwell questioned why the money to demolish the facility could not be used to keep it open.
But Mr Isted said: “We do not have £300,000 for anything.”
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “I am taking stock of the situation and will be meeting with the experts in the working group to examine the implications of the executive board's decision.”
The way they voted:
WREXHAM Council’s executive board members voted eight to one in favour of approving the recommendation to close Plas Madoc at the end of April.
The recommendation to postpone demolition until after October 1 was also approved as part of the same vote. One member was absent from the meeting.
Councillors who voted for the proposal:
l Cllr Neil Rogers - Labour
l Cllr Malcolm King - Labour
l Cllr Michael Williams - Labour
l Cllr David Griffiths - Labour
l Cllr Mark Pritchard - Democratic Independents
l Cllr Bob Dutton - Democratic Independents
l Cllr Carol O’Toole - Lib Dem
l Cllr Hugh Jones - Conservative
l Cllr Joan Lowe - Wrexham Independents
l Cllr David A Bithell - Wrexham Independents