WREXHAM Council’s cash ‘U-turn’ over Plas Madoc Leisure Centre has been welcomed as a step in the right direction.
Yesterday, the Leader broke news of a plan to recommend the council offers the Splash Community Trust, which is fighting to save the Acrefair centre, a cash lifeline to kick-start their bid.
Various political groups moved to welcome the news yesterday, and urged the council’s executive board to take the idea seriously when it is discussed on Tuesday at the Guildhall.
The motion to be put before the executive board by Wrexham Independent councillors David Bithell and Joan Lowe calls for an initial cash injection of £50,000 and the demolition date to be put back until October 31.
It is understood another £50,000 could be given to the Trust a year later.
Campaigners who fought a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle to persuade the council to ditch its closure plan said if the potential £100,000 windfall is forthcoming, Plas Madoc could reopen before the October demolition deadline.
Labour members at last week’s party meeting are understood to have voted the grant plan through by a 13 votes to three majority.
The pledge of cash is dependent on the Trust’s business plan being approved, which will be finalised and submitted this week.
Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru spokesman for Clwyd South, called it a ‘U-turn’.
“The news of a U-turn is a welcome step in the right direction,” he said.
“Along with all the hard-working campaigners, we called for Plas Madoc to be kept open while the centre was transferred to community ownership and, when the council refused to that, we called for tapered funding assistance over next few years - as happened with Gwynedd Council with the Harlech swimming baths.
“As late as April, the ruling group rejected a budget amendment to keep Plas Madoc open.
“It’s hard to know exactly what has prompted this dramatic U-turn but the pressure from opposition councillors has undoubtedly made a difference.
“It’s a shame that the centre wasn’t kept open as we all wanted to take advantage of the summer holiday trade.
“The fundraising efforts of volunteers over the past few months have been huge and, if the £100,000 funding package is approved, it’s only right that Wrexham Council recognises the contribution of the campaigners who wouldn’t let Plas Madoc die.”
Labour AM for Clwyd South, Ken Skates, has helped with the Trust’s battle to rescue the facility, and has told of his delight at Wrexham Council’s proposed donation.
He said: “I’m delighted by these developments. We’re going through the most difficult public sector cuts many of us have ever lived through so it’s great to see every effort is being made to re-open this facility, which is of great benefit to the local community.”
Cllr Bithell took to Twitter, stating: “This looks like a massive U-turn by Wrexham Labour, the submission of our motion looks like it may do the trick.”
Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships and collaboration, said: “We believe Splash Community Trust will submit its business plan this week. When it is received it will go through a due diligence process. We will respond to the Trust following that process.”
Democratic Independents chairman Cllr Paul Pemberton said his group would offer their full support to the Trust.
He said: “At our group meeting, we said we would scrutinise the business plan for Plas Madoc when it is officially submitted and we’ll fully support the motion going before the executive board.”