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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Former surveyor speaks out over Plas Madoc closure


* Plas Madoc Leisure Centre which is proposed for closure.

A FORMER senior surveyor has slammed Wrexham Council for spending almost £52,000 on consultants to advise on the shape of its future leisure provision.
 
Mike Edwards, who served as valuer and estate surveyor to the former Wrexham Maelor Council, recently submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the current Wrexham Council asking how much the authority had spent on commissioning a review of its leisure facilities by the Sports Consultancy.
 
Against a background of budget cuts of nearly £14 million for 2014-15, the review led to a proposal by council chiefs just before Christmas to build a new leisure centre to replace Waterworld in Wrexham town centre by borrowing an estimated £11.9m and closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, which is regularly used by many people from the Llangollen area.

The consultants have stated an estimated £857,000 will be saved by closing Plas Madoc as well as closing gyms at Ysgol Clywedog and Queensway leisure centre, and handing back dual use facilities to schools, with the exception of Ysgol Clywedog’s swimming pool.

The proposals, which are due to before the council's executive board for approval early in the new year, have led to a storm of protest from users of Plas Madoc who have started their own Facebook page to oppose the closure which currently has over 2,500 members.
 
Mr Edwards submitted his FoI request for details of consultancy fees and has received a reply from the council’s Assets & Economic Development department, which says: “The amount paid to consultants as part of the Leisure Review was in two stages. £26,760 was paid in stage 1 of the review and £25,000 in stage 2 giving a total of £51,760.”
 
Mr Edwards said: “As Valuer and Estate Surveyor to the former Wrexham Maelor Council it is depressing to see the County Borough Council considering closing and disposing of facilities and assets.

“The former Groves School and old offices on Grosvenor Road have now stood empty, boarded up and derelict for numerous years as example evidence of the poor asset management practices now pervading. 

“The previous authorities, Wrexham RDC and Maelor, worked very hard to provide all these around the area for the benefit of the residents of the whole area not just the town of Wrexham, so I was even more perplexed to hear that the council had employed external consultants to advise them on the future of leisure services.
 
“Clearly the authority has little, if any, confidence in their qualified, officers who they pay to advise them and manage these facilities.
 
“Or is it just that when unacceptable recommendations are put on the table, it is the consultants who are placed in the firing line not the paid officials or elected representatives?”
 
He added: “Just to make the situation even more depressing for the council tax payers of the county borough I have discovered that the council have spent £52,000 to date on employing these consultants.

“Surely this is a total waste of public money which could have been spent on those very assets or services which the local authority are considering closing and centralising to the detriment of the residents in the villages and peripheral parts of the borough.” 

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