PL AS MADOC leisure centre closed in April but, while the move may save the county council funds, parents say it’s their children who are counting the cost.
A wet late May bank holiday weekend and a soggy half-term last week have, ironically, left families who used the Wrexham pool and facilities high and dry.
Public protests surrounding the closure of the centre, with its indoor beach, wave machine and play pool, subsided at the end of April after staff shut up shop for the last time.
But a dismal school holiday break has seen frustrations boil over.
Jenny Miller, of Penley, one of the founders of the Splash Community Trust, used to take her children to Plas Madoc every week.
Speaking at the end of half-term, she said: “The plan was to take the little ones to Waterworld in Wrexham but I’m apprehensive about it.
“For one thing, I think that, after all the rain and after the children have been cooped up inside, lots of parents are going to have the same idea. I’ve heard it’s been so busy that people have been turned away.
“For another, the facilities just don’t match what we had at Plas Madoc.”
Jenny has two children – Charlotte, four, and Izzy, two, who she says are too young to understand why their regular visits to the leisure centre were stopped abruptly.
She said: “They’re very active kids.
“Over half-term the weather has been awful. They’ve been stuck inside so there’s been arguing, fighting. We’ve got cats so the kitten’s been poked.
“The alternatives are privately owned indoor play areas, travelling to somewhere like Waterworld or going out of the area.
“Although these places offer a chance to work off some steam, they just don’t offer what Plas Madoc did in terms of fitness and the children don’t enjoy them as much.
“The other places are not as sociable either. Plas Madoc had a free children’s soft play area. You’d meet other mums there and buy a coffee from the centre cafe and have a chat.”
Jenny is working with other members of the Splash Community Trust, set up after the closure was announced, to run the centre as a community concern.
They are working to gather funds before the centre is demolished in October and this weekend there will be a fun day at Wrexham’s Queens Square to raise funds.
“It’s hard work,” said Jenny. “You wouldn’t believe how much work goes into it.”
Motivation is not hard to find.
She said: “The children have been crying over this. They keep asking why they can't go to ‘Plas Magic’ any more.
"They say ‘We want to go mum. Can we open it?’ – and I have to say we can't go yet.
“They don't understand the politics behind the closure. It’s just somewhere they liked and now it’s been taken away from them.
“They’re upset, I’m upset. It’s put a lot of stress on families.”
Other parents have also vented their frustration.
Carol Gale Evans, 57, of Wrexham, is a grandmother-of-five.
She said: “It was terrible closing it down. There’s nothing around here for kids to do. God help us over the summer when they are off school for six weeks. My grandsons used to love going there. A lot of people miss it.
“It’s a shame it has closed on the gym side as well. There are a lot of obese people who want to lose weight and get healthy but can’t go to the gym any more as nearest is Wrexham. Lots of kids won’t have anywhere to go in their school holidays.”
Helen Barratt, of Wrexham, was equally displeased.
She said: “My five-year-old son wanted to go to the pool with the crocodile and cool slides.
“He was really upset when I said we couldn’t because it had closed – to which he said: ‘That’s just ridiculous, where am I supposed to go swimming now?’
Sarah Davies, 40, of Wrexham, said: “We went as a group every Friday after school and at half-term.
“The kids have lessons and it was nice to take them to Plas Madoc for some fun.”
Collette Dempsey, 27, had a similar problem.
She said: “We miss it. We could have done with the place over the wet half-term breaks.
“I’ve a two-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. Both had their first swim at Plas Madoc. The gradual slope is brilliant for beginners and toddlers.”
Amanda Scott, 35, of Wrexham, added: “My kids loved Plas Madoc baths with the waves. Wrexham town baths are boring and no fun.
“I’ve got four children from ages three to 16. They are all gutted.”
Donna Taylor, 37, of Ruabon said: “It’s the worst thing the council could have done.
“What are families supposed to do? Plas Madoc offered a wide range of activities for all ages.
“Also, for disabled people and young children the walk in pool was excellent. My family and I miss the place very much.
“We were turned away from Waterworld as it was too busy, leaving my children upset. Gym classes are full too.”
Jayne Hughes, 42, of Acrefair, has three young girls, all under the age of 10.
She said: “They used to have swimming lessons there but we have to go elsewhere now.
“Chirk was all booked up so we ended up going to a different pool. It was filthy and they wouldn’t allow you to watch – so I had to sit in the changing rooms and wait.
“It’s hard to explain to a five-year-old why they can’t go. They just don’t understand. I don’t think the council realises the impact it’s had on so many people. We’re talking hundreds, maybe even thousands.
“I used to spend whole holidays swimming there. Now we can’t do that. It’s very, very sad to see it all boarded up.”
To join the Splash Community Trust email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jenny on 07921 6590990.