A £1m loan deal to upgrade two leisure centres in Wrexham has been described as a ‘spiteful snub’ against the community-run Splash Magic.
Last week Wrexham.com reported that a £1m Welsh Government Sports Facilities Capital Loan Scheme. had been secured to upgrade facilities at Waterworld and Chirk Leisure Centre.
However Wrexham Council’s decision to not include Splash Magic in their successful bid has been questioned since the announcement was made last week.
Splash Magic (formerly known as Plas Madoc) was taken over by a team of volunteers after the centre was closed in April 2014 as part of Wrexham Council’s ongoing budget cuts. The leisure centre later reopened at the end of 2014 as Splash Magic.
Chair of Splash Magic, Darrell Wright said: “The view of Splash is that any investment in Wrexham area leisure facilities is to be welcomed but we had hoped that Wrexham Council would have included us in their investment plans.
“It’s a kick in the teeth to find that Wrexham Council are going to invest £1million pounds in facilities which will be run by an outside entity and not consider giving Splash a small portion of that money to assist in their community venture.
“A sizeable amount of the £50k that Wrexham gave Splash to start up has been spent on repairs that the Council had allowed to accrue and in truth a more realistic figure was in the region of £12k.
“Considering that in addition to the £1 million, Freedom Leisure are going to receive in excess of £300k per annum in management fees alone. When Splash asked for a management fee we were refused. Again I would say to Wrexham, please give some our way.”
The concerns about the spending of the capital loan have been echoed by Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales’ candidate for Clwyd South, who said: “This is good news for Chirk and Wrexham and I welcome the proposed investment in both sites. We had argued strongly against the council’s original plans, put forward three years ago, to close Waterworld, a proposal based on an external report which cost the council tens of thousands and has proved to be flawed.
“But the £1m investment is a real kick in the teeth for the communities served by Splash Magic and those volunteers who continue to work so hard to make the place work. It’s a spiteful snub and demonstrates a lack of strategic thinking.
“The Council failed to invest in Plas Madoc and ran the place down, even though it was much loved, widely used and much needed. Splash is run by a not-for profit community trust made up of committed local volunteers. It’s ironic therefore that the Council have agreed to go into partnership with a Sussex-based not-for-profit organisation to run Waterworld while they have a committed and effective not-for-profit organisation running a successful leisure centre right on their doorstep. By ignoring Splash and going for Freedom leisure it shows that the Council have no trust in the people they’re meant to serve, which is disrespectful and insulting.
“We have faith in our people here, and I am calling on Wrexham Council to reconsider their decision and go into partnership with Splash by allowing them to access some of this loan”.
He also challenged the Welsh Government minister, who is also the local AM, to insist that the loan was conditional on including Plas Madoc in the refurbishment scheme: “The minister who announced this scheme must have been aware of the need for investment in Plas Madoc and I would urge him to make the loan conditional on including Splash Magic in the package.”