Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Plas Madoc: A drop in the ocean could save our leisure centre

Let's see a tidal wave of protest against this council

Wrexham's Labour-run council used to lose £450,000 a year on Plas Madoc Leisure Centre so, back in March 2014, they voted to close it.

This was in the face of a huge local campaign to save this popular service. As a result, the local community came together and eventually re-opened it as a cooperative on a shoestring in December 2014.

The cooperative is now asking for £50,000 a year from the same council to keep it going. Sounds like a good deal for the council you'd think... the same service at a fraction of the price.

And remember that this is a council that spends:

• £2.1m on consultants who tell them how to save money (I'm not making this up)
• £1.6m on new paving and lighting for King Street, where the disruption led to many shops closing
• £138,000 each year on the mayor
• £100,000 each year in extra payments to councillors
• £31,000 on replacing councillors' old iPads

That gives you an idea of how £50,000 is just a drop in the ocean for a council with a £200m annual budget.

Yet they are willing to risk closing a much-loved leisure centre that attracts 400,000 each year and plays an important part in promoting health and well-being in the county.

After months of delay, a final decision will be made at the council's Executive Board on 13th December. If the Executive Board fails to provide funding for Plas Madoc, it will close in January. Jobs will be lost, leisure services will be lost... all for the cost of keeping a mayor.

A refusal to fund the leisure centre will also mean a £500,000 grant from the Welsh Government to make essential repairs and maintenance will be lost. Again, only an idiot would turn their backs on such funding for such a small outlay. But it seems we are being run by a committee of idiots.

One final thought: Labour politicians have been vocal in their condemnation of the council's refusal to fund Plas Madoc Leisure Centre. These same politicians were silent when their fellow Labour councillors were voting to close the centre. The excuse then was "we've got to make cuts, we've got no options". The excuses are still the same now - so what's changed? Apart from the fact that half the Labour group has jumped ship and become independent... Nothing has changed.

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