Councillor slams lack of investment in mid Wales leisure centres
Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
A lack of investment in leisure centres across Powys, by the previous Independent/Conservative administration has been slammed by a Cabinet member.
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, October 11 the future of Machynlleth’s Bro Ddyfi leisure centre was discussed after it was dumped from proposals for new build Ysgol Bro Hyddgen.
The proposals that had been agreed in 2020 would include a library and leisure centre at a new campus-style school site.
It had been expected that this option would cost £48 million – but due to cost of living crisis, it is now estimated to cost £66 million.
Fears have been raised which would suck money from other school transformation projects.
At the meeting education portfolio holder Cllr Pete Roberts said that the leisure centre would be refurbished, and the council would “seek funding” for that.
At a scrutiny meeting last month, Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies had argued to continue with the full campus scheme.
At the Cabinet meeting Cllr Davies asked whether the Welsh Government had been approached for more funding.
He explained that this would allow the new campus to be built in phases which could see the leisure centre built there at a later date.
Cllr Roberts said he was “not aware” of any approach to the Welsh Government to ask for more funding.
Cllr Davies said: “I know the council is in financial straits at the moment, and I asked if there were any plans to mothball or downgrade the offer across our 13 leisure centres in Powys.”
Cllr Davies said that he had received assurances that this wouldn’t happen but: “I would like that confirmed.”
Leisure portfolio holder Cllr David Selby said: “On leisure centres as a whole, Cllr Aled would be well aware of the underfunding they have experienced over the last five years.
“Just as we have a backlog of maintenance in other buildings, we have a backlog across the leisure centres portfolio.
“Something I would love to see resolved but it might not be possible immediately.
“I’m aware of the issues in Machynlleth leisure centre and we have a fully costed scheme to resolve those which will be considered alongside other capital programmes.
“Sadly, no money has been spent on these buildings, for many a long year.”
Cllr Davies said: “It’s important to get the design right for a phased approach to try and encourage the Welsh Government to take a long-term view.”
Cllr Davies said that the new school would be “an asset for the next 50 years.”
“There is a danger that the town could end up with no leisure centre if we take the short-term view,” said Cllr Davies.
The updated condition survey for Bro Ddyfi Leisure Centre, carried out in spring 2022, says that £3.5million is required for maintenance of the centre over the next ten years.
Any major refurbishment is estimated to require around £6million.
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