Anger over proposal to close pool
PEOPLE in the Rhondda are angry a community swimming pool used tens of thousands of times each year could soon be closed.
It comes as Rhondda Cynon Taf council is set to consider “major improvements” for Rhondda Fach Sports Centre in Tylorstown, which will mean a new 3G surface for five-a-side football and a new fitness facility. But if the proposals are passed, it will also mean closing the centre’s swimming pool.
The council said this is down to “low usage”, and pointed to statistics that show just under 27,000 uses of the pool in the 2016/17 year – the lowest of RCT’s seven leisure centres.
Independent councillor for Ferndale, Phil Howe, is against the plans, and said: “In the Rhondda Fach, we don’t have a great deal. People don’t want it to close because a lot of people still use it.
“Looking at the footfall figures, those for ‘casual’ swimming – 14,775, are up there with all of the other centres, and even higher than Tonyrefail and Abercynon. It’s a fun pool, schools can’t use it because it’s not got enough lanes, which is why it scored low in that category.”
He also said the opening hours were impractical for people to use the gym.
“In Aberdare, you can go to the gym or pool any time between 6am and 10pm, but at Tylorstown it’s very difficult unless you’re working flexible hours – it doesn’t open until after 8am,” he said.
He added: “If the opening hours were extended, I’m sure lots more people would use it. I totally understand the drop in budget and that the council has cutbacks, but we want them to rethink this decision and maybe give us a year whereby we can have another look at it.”
The report will be considered by the council’s cabinet today, and the proposal is to invest more than £500,000 to “modernise” the centre. It will include a new fitness suite and the conversion of part of the building into an indoor 3G surface.
It comes after the pool’s total usage figure of 26,885 was bettered by every other pool in the county borough, with Llantrisant Leisure Centre the most used at 111,073 users for the 2016/17 year.
Ann Crimmings, RCT council’s cabinet member for environment and leisure, said there was “potential” to increase the swimming capacity at other centres to accommodate the closure, but the space currently used by the activity pool will be developed into a two-tier fitness area.
“These plans propose a radical re-configuration of the facility to ensure it is not only fit-for-purpose but has a sustainable position in our wider leisure offer moving forward,” she added.
The report will propose a four-week consultation users, before full consideration is determined.
Rhondda AM Leanne Wood said many in the Fach felt “let down and rightly so” by the proposal. She added: “Just like they did in Treherbert, a Labour council is taking away yet another swimming pool. This will only make it harder for people to access leisure facilities and be active.”
Andrew Morgan, leader of the council, said: “Usage of the pool has declined significantly in recent years and we need to look at proposals which would create capacity for gyms and sporting clubs – for which demand is increasing.
“The investment being proposed will ensure the centre has sustainable and secure future alongside the three other leisure facilities which serve the Rhondda.”