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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Call goes out to support next Plas Madoc demo

The campaign fighting Wrexham Council's plan to close Plas Madoc Leisure Centre has expressed its disappointment at the announcement that the centre will close within 60 days unless the community take it on.

Alison Roberts, speaking on behalf of the Save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre campaign, said: "This proposal only came to light in November. It went out to consultation in December and January and now they're talking of closing it in March. This is based on a flawed consultants' report that has underestimated usage, overestimated maintenance and repair costs and only has a superficial understanding of the importance of this facility for the wellbeing of the entire south of the county and beyond.

"We have attempted, as a campaign, to engage with the council by requesting meetings but been rejected. We have tried to get an independent surveyor into Plas Madoc to assess the true costs of the centre - again that has not been forthcoming.

"The idea of the community running the centre would have more merit if the council had involved the community in this consultation. Instead it has disregarded the community's views completely and appears willing to ride roughshod over our wishes. 

"Let's be clear. We do not believe that the council is serious is wanting the community to successfully run Plas Madoc - the timescale makes it all but impossible to organise an orderly and effective transfer. There are huge issues to discuss in terms of organising financing, employment rights, a business plan and other major matters that would take many months to organise for a large company let alone a community that would need to set up a social enterprise from scratch.

"The community has made it clear that what it favours is for the council to find the £96,000 annual savings it expects to see from closing Plas Madoc from another source. That could be from reserves, it could be by cutting non-frontline services or it could be through community councils stepping up to the plate. This is what's happened with other council services, such as libraries, community centres and lollipop ladies. All these were offered to community councils - why didn't they offer Plas Madoc to local community councils to bridge the gap?

"Cllr David Griffiths described leisure as a discretionary service but it has huge uncosted benefits for the community in terms of health and well-being. We could name some other council costs that are also discretionary that this council is not cutting - why? It appears we have council leaders who know the price of everything but the value of nothing."

Ms Roberts added: "The council leaders and officers' attitude throughout has been to railroad this closure plan through with the minimum of time to assess the options. The legacy of such a blinkered approach, if we allow them to succeed, will be hugely damaging for the surrounding area. 

"We do not accept that Plas Madoc has to close. We believe there are plenty of good people who want to see Plas Madoc survive and thrive. We believe that many councillors across the political spectrum feel the same way. It is now time for those councillors to have their say and ensure that the Executive Board on Tuesday votes down this proposal.
"With that in mind, we're urging everyone who wants Plas Madoc to survive to get down to the Guildhall for 1pm on Tuesday, 11th February, to make sure this proposal doesn't go through. We will be entitled to watch the Executive Board make their decision and will be carefully monitoring who votes for and against."

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