- Posted by: Ken Skates MS
- Category: News
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Plas Madoc Leisure Centre was praised in the Senedd this week when local MS Ken Skates highlighted the impact soaring energy costs are having on community swimming pools.
The Member for Clwyd South expressed his fears that pools like Plas Madoc, which is a not-for-profit social enterprise, could face financial ruin if they don’t get more help.
Mr Skates also highlighted the huge increase in the cost of chemicals – and the delays in their delivery – which pools are facing as a consequence of the UK leaving the European Union.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said that the Welsh Government would look at working with the UK Government – which is responsible for regulating the energy industry – to find a resolution.
He told the Senedd: “Public swimming pools are an important health and leisure resource. We know that many face unprecedented challenges. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and, where necessary, work with the UK Government to do everything possible to ensure that they remain open in the face of significant rises in energy and running costs.”
Mr Skates said: “Thank you, Minister. That’s really reassuring to hear, and I know that you’re familiar with the story of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in my constituency and the incredible work done by volunteers to keep it open through thick and thin.
“But they’re really facing the wall this winter, partly as a result of Brexit – with chemical costs rising through the roof, and delivery challenges – but also because of rising energy prices.
“Minister, what exactly do you think could be done by Welsh Government, and by UK Government, to support those vital public swimming pools that do so much good for public health?”
The Minister responded: “You’re right, we have some really big challenges. It’s one of the things that isn’t often talked about, but the costs in chemical imports is a real issue in this and other sectors.
“We gave local government a generous settlement at the start of last year, with an announcement of a 9.4% increase in their budgets. Yet we’ve seen that overtaken by inflation, so local authorities aren’t full of lots of money to help these enterprises continue and succeed. We know the damage that is done if they close, and I in particular pay tribute to all the people around Plas Madoc who have kept it running.”
Mr Gething said he was hopeful swimming pools like Plas Madoc would qualify for support through the UK Government’s scheme for non-domestic energy users.
“I think swimming pools have a good case to be treated as an energy-intensive enterprise,” he said. “We’ll continue to make the case at UK level as well as trying to work constructively with our partners in local government, because I certainly want to see swimming pools continue for use for people of all ages.”
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