I have been a regular user of Plas Madoc in excess of 18 years. I use it as an individual and with my family over 3 times per week. I wish to register my absolute objection to the proposal to consider closure of this essential facility. I have spoken with many users and the strength of feeling and frustration is quite remarkable, both with reference to the proposal itself and with the covert process the council has adopted. I have structured below an overview of my key objections in the interests of digestion, I hope this helps.
Timing, Covert, Non- Consultative Approach
The timing of this is most unfortunate, just before Christmas whilst people are busy preparing for festivities, the short time frame from initial press coverage to an unpublicised meeting, to the executive meeting in January gives us very little time to prepare a counter case. Most concerning is the fact that despite several requests we have been denied the opportunity to meet with officials to voice our concerns and ask fundamental questions. How can the council consider it acceptable to deny our democratic right to speak and consult over a decision with such tremendous ramifications for our local community?
The user questionnaires are in the progress of being completed, which is a valuable exercise. There is a considerable number already completed, I ask how these paper forms are going to be collated and entered into a meaningful report and distributed in time for the Executive meeting with due time for the members to read and digest before the 14th January? The centre is actually closed over the Christmas period, so who, when and how will this be done?
The Sports Consultancy Report
I have so many questions and considerations which have simply not been addressed in the minutes and reports I have read. I appreciate the financial picture looks bleak but I have many questions relating to the conclusions drawn by the Sports Consultancy, the cost projections for repair and maintence were arrived at by a visual assessment, what exactly does this entail? Are these costs supported by an independent structural survey? It seems very convenient that a council who refuses to consult, places such emphasis on figures which give a very clear and overwhelming reason to close Plas Madoc. I question the figures quoted and want the opportunity drill down into the detail. What are the pool/non pool cost breakdowns? The user numbers and travel information quoted by the consultants are completely inaccurate. I am a regular gym and class member, I know that the gym at peak hour has far more than 9 users, in addition the circuits class has an average of 50 in addition to the gym & other classes on a Monday and Wednesday. As a loyal user of these facilities I know that this user peak average of 9 is entirely incorrect.
Also page 22 of the report details projected operating savings. I have serious concerns. If we ignore Water World, Plas Madoc and the re-build cost (which Plas Madoc users would not attend as too far away). Excluding items 1-3, the total saving is £302k. You are now looking to close two facilities for the sake of £97k- surely this could be saved elsewhere or by looking at alternatives, which maybe revealed if we understood the known cost structure along with better marketing/facility utilisation etc. A 10% negative variance on the build, finance and operation of the new centre forecast will wipe out the benefit case of closing these two facilities.
Lack of Alternative Proposals
It seems ludicrous that no alternatives are being considered than absolute closure, as a business woman I have to ask why no-one is exploring other opportunities, it makes no sense whatsoever and leaves our community with no adequate health and fitness resource which goes against everything someone employed to care for the health and well-being is employed to do.
Alternative Facilities/Capacity and Choice
I strongly feel that uses will not be absorbed by other facilities. I will not consider traveling to Wrexham and so many will not as Plas Madoc is convenient and local to the communities of Ruabon, Trevor, Acrefair, Pentre, Plas Madoc, Pen y cae, Rhos and Cefn Mawr. I know of many that travel from Chirk due to the small and congested fitness suite. Chirk simply does not have the capacity to satisfy demand from Plas Madoc users. Many would not travel due to cost, time, affordability and logistics issues. The user profile requires more consideration and understanding as the report claims it is not used by local people, as a regular user I do not know of one person asked any questions by the Sports Consultancy, how many people did they ask?
Wrexham residents already have more choice from council and private gyms. We do not and the Head of Community and Wellbeing will only be making Wrexham a better place to live work, learn and play in showing no regard for our outlying village communities, it is a disgrace.
Health and Well Being
Wrexham and surrounding communities have high obesity levels, how can you justify a total closure of a place promoting health and fitness? The Olympics inspired a generation to get involved with sport and Plas Madoc draws in so many ages, from small children who enjoy the fun pool to those playing 5 a side with their fathers, trampolining or roller skating. I know generations of families that play sport together at Plas Madoc. This legacy and opportunity will be shattered if it closes completely.
Chirk simply does not offer the breadth of sporting activities afforded by Plas Madoc. By closing Plas Madoc you will destroy opportunities to trial new activities and get involved with sport and the important life lessons it furnishes us e.g. achievement, team-work, self-worth, determination etc.
Plas Madoc offers much needed leisure time for disadvantaged and disabled groups, who rely on the facility. The pool is accessible for the disabled due to it’s gentle gradient promoting equality and accessibility for all.
Location is a key factor; it is located in the heart of a deprived area. If you close Plas Madoc you are removing our only option for fitness and well –being, should I become unfit and obese and add to the already over stretched health service? Many users only use it because it is on our doorstep and will not travel.
I ask that you give my objections due consideration and ask that as a collective the users of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre are given the opportunity to consult on such a severe matter. I also ask that the closure of Plas Madoc is deferred from the 14th January Executive agenda to allow sufficient time for us to develop a counter proposal. Either way you and the councillors need to listen and talk to us.