Anglesey Council to spend £3m to improve island leisure facilities
Anglesey Council is planning a rolling programme of investment in order to keep its four leisure centres open and viable, members have been told.
Acknowledging the “unrealistic” £21m cost of fully refurbishing or £37m price tag for three brand new leisure centres, councillors approved continuing the current programme which has identified a need to invest over £3m into new fitness rooms, changing facilities and 3G pitches.
As a non-statutory service, leisure on the island has faced cuts of more than 60% over recent years which has meant the closure of some facilities including Llangefni golf course.
A report presented to the Partnership and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday noted that 530,000 visitors used the four centres during 2018/19- namely Holyhead, Plas Arthur in Llangefni, Amlwch and Canolfan David Hughes in Menai Bridge.
But it also acknowledged challenges due to the age of the buildings, having been up and running for over 40 years and described as “increasingly inefficient assets.”
Funded at least partially thanks to external grants, work has already taken place to upgrade the fitness room at Holyhead and a new 7-a-side football pitch at Canolfan David Hughes.
But among the projects earmarked over the coming years are:
- New 3G sports pitches in Holyhead and Amlwch
- Refurbishing the fitness rooms at Llangefni’s Plas Arthur (ongoing), David Hughes and Amlwch (circa £100,000 each)
- New changing facilities at Holyhead (£400,000)
Relocation of Plas Arthur’s café, a new soft play area, improved reception area and new changing facilities (£1.5m-£2m).
The report went on to confirm that the authority will look to exploit all available funding sources including the centres’ own income, external funding, community benefits from major developments on the island and potential borrowing.
Members were also told that the authority’s spend in order to subsidise the service had also reduced significantly over recent years due to increased use at the centres, down from approximately £700,000 in 2015/16 to £200,000 in 2018/19.
But despite the four centres being safe for now, it was only thanks to the efforts of the local community that Canolfan Beaumaris was saved from closure after the local friends group negotiated a takeover with the then-commissioner controlled council, including a transfer of staff.
Now largely self sustaining, it attracts 42,000 visitors a year with plans in the pipeline for a £1m investment into the facilities.
“The new leisure plan represents an affordable and realistic solution to maintain the existing centres over the short to medium term (until the current financial climate improves),” the report concluded.
“Customers recognise that the leisure centres are in need of investment – and their needs are continuously changing which requires the centres to provide increasingly flexible facilities that can accommodate a range of activities.
“It is the council’s intention to retain the four current leisure centres. The current demand for swimming, coupled with the identification of unmet demand levels for fitness provision justifies the ongoing provision of four leisure centres on the Island.”
Welcoming the report, council leader Llinos Medi said: “When there are so many service that have and are being cut due to austerity, what we have here is a strategy to protect what we already have.
“Despite being told over the years that there were too many centres on Anglesey and so forth, access to services is vital and the effect leisure has on general health and quality of life for many means it is vital that this continues.”
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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