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Council blames trust for delay in securing future of Aberfan community centre

12 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Aberfan Community Centre

Emily Price

The trust that runs a community centre built for residents following the Aberfan disaster has still not provided a response about the continuation of services, the council has said.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council says a number of formal requests have been made to Wellbeing Merthyr in relation to Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre.

The centre was built for the people of Aberfan following the 1966 disaster which killed 144 people – including 116 children – when a coal slip collapsed onto a school.

Residents in Aberfan raised fears about the future of the village leisure centre when notices were put up in the building stating it would close on April 1st.

It sparked protests and a petition to save the centre was launched.

Councillors made pleas for Wellbeing Merthyr – formerly known as Merthyr Leisure Trust – to get round the table and safeguard the future of the leisure centre.

The council have been working with the trust on ending its contract to run leisure services in the county borough.

The original deadline of March 31 has been extended to April 30.

The council has requested to provide a leisure provision from the community centre from May 1.

But to date no response has been received from the trust.


The council said: “As part of any potential legal transfer a due diligence exercise is required.

“This is to ascertain the state of the company and will allow us to understand the legal and financial liabilities, for example understanding existing contract and debts.

“Until a request is made by the trustees to the council in relation to the transfer of trusteeship – and the relevant information is shared with us by the trust – this due diligence exercise cannot begin.”

The council says it is in discussions with an alternative leisure provider to operate Merthyr leisure services from May 1.

This would include reopening the pool at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre which have been closed since December 2019.

The council says it cannot name the “experienced” provider because it has not yet awarded the contract.

Council officers say that if councillors did become trustees they would do so as individual councillors and the building would not be an asset of the council itself.


The leisure centre, which boasts a pool, fitness suites, large hall and a cafe was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

It was built alongside a special memorial garden using donations which poured in from around the world following the disaster.

Between 1988 and 2015, it was managed by the council as trustees for the Aberfan Disaster Fund and Centre – but the council has never owned the building.

Wellbeing Merthyr was created from the council’s former leisure services department and took over services in 2015.

Later that year, the trust became the trustees of The Aberfan Disaster Fund and centre.

The council said: “Council officers will continue to pursue the trust in relation to Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre. We must, however, reiterate that the responsibility of service provision at the centre sits firmly with the trust.

“We will provide a further update as things progress.”

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