£100,000 cash hope to save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

A TRUST looking to reopen Plas Madoc Leisure Centre could receive a “game changing” £100,000 boost from the very council which closed the facility down.

Wrexham Council’s is poised to offer the Splash Community Trust the six-figure lifeline to kick-start their bid to reopen the mothballed Acrefair centre.

The radical plan was hatched at a meeting of the Labour group on Wrexham Council last week. A report suggesting the £100,000 Trust support move is understood to be on the agenda for a meeting of the council’s executive board next week.

Campaigners who fought a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle to persuade the council to ditch its closure plan said if the money 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 lifeline proposal is likely to now go for approval at Tuesday’s executive board meeting at the Guildhall.

The news comes months after the council voted to shut Plas Madoc, which closed its doors to the public at the end of April.

The proposed £100,000 would be split as two £50,000 payments to the Splash Trust over the first two year’s operation. The money would be a “game-changing” move in the battle to reopen Plas Madoc, Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said.

It would enable the Trust to employ staff and create an income stream, which trust chairman Darrell Wright said could pave the way for ‘thousands of pounds worth of grants’ which could be applied for once an income stream is established.

The report will state a cash injection is dependant on council officers agreeing the community trust’s business plan is viable. A plan submitted by the Trust earlier this month is currently under scrutiny.

Both the Labour and Wrexham Independents Group are set to give their support to the cash injection, although the Conservative and Democratic Independent groups are reportedly against providing the trust with a financial boost.

Plas Madoc councillor Paul Blackwell, who attended the meeting of the Labour group, said he was ‘delighted’ for his ward, but said he appreciated there was a long way to go.

“There were positive discussions at the meeting, and there is support from a number of councillors for giving a cash injection to the trust, although not all are happy as their community councils have had to stump up a lot of money to save community facilities.

“The figure being discussed is £100,000, split over a two-year period, although this is dependant on the business plan being accepted by the council.

“I am delighted this is being discussed, although there is still a long way to go in the fight to reopen Plas Madoc.”

A source within the council confirmed there was ‘strong support’ from the Labour group towards helping the community trust reopen Plas Madoc.

Mr Wright, the trust’s chairman, who gave an emotional speech the day Plas Madoc closed, said he would ‘fight to the death’ to reopen the facility, described the latest news as a ‘major shot in the arm’.

“This definitely changes the game in terms of what we can do, if the council agree to the initial £50,000 then we could reopen in a matter of weeks,” he said.

“It will allow us to advertise for management staff, marketing, getting Plas Madoc cleaned up and, with the deadline looming. we are hopeful this money can materialise sooner rather than later.

“The news is a wonderful basis of optimism for us.”

Mr Wright said the council were also discussing the prospect of providing the trust with Welsh Government funding for the Wales Free Swim scheme, which allows under 16s and over 60s to swim for free, and could be worth as much as £40,000 per year to Plas Madoc. There could also be financial support from the Welsh Government, the Leader understands.

Wrexham Council’s executive board will meet on Tuesday at 2pm.

See full story in the Leader

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