Leisure buildings across Conwy face £2.36m maintenance gap

CONWY county council is doing away with almost £100,000 of community grant money to help fill a £2.36m repair backlog for its leisure buildings.

Councillors discussed the plans as part of Monday’s finance and resources scrutiny committee meeting.

The Community Enterprise Development Grant Scheme (CEDS) had been running since 2002 but a report presented by principal leisure manager Mally Tidswell said it was now rarely used and there had only been two applications to secure any of the money during 2019/20.

Mr Tidswell said more than £57,000 of the annual £99,500 grant money would be used to fund repayments in capital financing for the first £739,600 of work, which is considered most vital.

He said the remaining money would be kept as a reserve and used in later years to pay off more capital financing as needed.

Colwyn Bay leisure centre needs £1.68m spent on it alone, Abergele swimming pool another £282,000 and Llanrwst swimming pool £254,000 – for immediate, short and long-term repairs.

Llandudno Junction leisure centre needs more than £200,000 of work to get it up to scratch and Eirias tennis centre more than £94,000.

The report to councillors said: “Visual condition surveys of all our leisure facilities have recently been undertaken, and concluded that many of the facilities require significant investment to bring them up to a fit-for-purpose standard.”

Eirias leisure centre, which needs the most money spending on it, has immediate problems with its roof which needs a programme of replacement costing £220,000 in total.

Engineers have also recommended removing water storage tanks from the roof area because of concerns about supporting steelwork.

New windows for the building will cost £135,000, a new sports hall floor will need £180,000 and new changing rooms, deemed “dated and less functional in terms of operation and staff ability to keep clean”, will set the council back a further £165,000 overall.

Sorting out the pool will cost £185,000, while new emergency lighting and fire alarm systems will cost £140,000 initially and almost £80,000 to maintain over the longer term.

It said the lack of demand for the CEDS grant was because of duplication with the Social Business Wales grant fund and grants from Gwynt y Mor wind farm had also provided “further funding provision in the county” for third sector initiatives.

Committee member Cllr Anne McCaffrey (Capelulo ward) remained unconvinced about losing a grant scheme for the voluntary sector, remarking that normally a scrutiny committee would expect to “see evidence” of the lack of take-up, how the scheme had been marketed and to hear from those affected, about their views on the change.

She was backed up by Cllr Chris Hughes (Glyn ward) who proposed the money be used this year to help finance some work but the remainder should be returned back to council coffers to help with other shortfalls. That proposal was thrown out by 14 votes to three.

Proposals to capitalise the CEDS grant to use as finance repayments to get the work completed were approved by 14 votes to three and the authority’s cabinet will have the final say on the matter at its next meeting.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno