around £3million according to an independent
consultant reports HANNAH MLATEM.
Independent consultants Knight, Kavanagh and
meeting this week which was attended by action
group Blaenavon Leisure and Swimming
The consultant, jointly appointed with the town
council was engaged to provide estimates for building
and running a new pool in Blaenavon on a community
concluded, "Unmet demand for swimming in Torfaen
was lower than the Welsh average - funding bodies
such as the Sports Council for Wales were therefore
very unlikely to fund a new pool because other areas
of Wales had a greater need. The demographic profile
of Blaenavon was unlikely to attract or support a hotel
or private health and fitness operator with a
"The pool would run at an annual loss of at least
£180,000. This loss did not include the cost of re-
paying any loan to fund the building of the pool.
"Repayments on the cost of building a pool are
estimated at £275,000 based on borrowing over 20
However BLAST, which was set up to fight the
closure of the pool and leisure centre welcomed the
results and said they confirmed a need for such
facilities in the town.
Blaenavon Town Council is now considering the
report's findings and how it might take the initiative
forward with the help of the community and BLAST.
"Although the report says unmet leisure demand
in Torfaen is lower than the Welsh average, it also
highlights the fact that Blaenavon is a more isolated
community with less access than every other town or
village in the county.
"It says that 70 per cent of the population of
Torfaen can walk to a leisure facility within 20 minutes
– but that excludes the whole of the north of the
county," said BLAST Chairman and former Blaenavon
Leisure Centre Manager John Beavan.
"That totally endorses the fact that we should
have a leisure facility in Blaenavon, and then the
whole of the county will be able to walk to a pool or
centre within 20 minutes.
"The report says that the north of the county
borough is considered to be under-provided for in
comparison to the south, and consultation with user
groups suggested that Pontypool Leisure Centre was
becoming over-subscribed and schools and clubs
could not access facilities at the most appropriate
"It adds that the population of Blaenavon is
increasing with a number of new housing
developments planned, targeted at bringing young
families into the area, and school attendance figures
show that annual intake is increasing by 10 pupils.
"Furthermore, consultation suggests that
Blaenavon is developing as a tourist centre, which
impacts upon demand for leisure facilities."
Mr Beavan said the impact of the closure of the
Blaenavon pool has resulted in the community feeling
isolated and that it has had a negative impact on
other services in the town such as shops and the local
He said, "The report says, 'In summary, it is clear
that the resident population within the catchment of a
new Blaenavon swimming pool is more acutely
deprived than the wider population of Torfaen and is
more likely to face ongoing challenges in relation to
access to services, poor health and higher levels of
He said he was happy that the feasibility study
validated a business plan drawn up by BLAST when
the action group had appealed to Torfaen Council to
allow it take over the running of the pool.
"It says that the pool would run at a deficit, we
knew that – as we also know that there are very few
pools that make a profit. Most of them are subsidised.
Torfaen Council funded the consultation merely so
that they could say 'we told you so'. But this has
backfired on them in that it enables BLAST to say: 'No
– we told you so.'"
Blaenavon Programme Manager, Graham Screen
said, "The report is a fair and independent assessment
of the situation. The consultant, jointly appointed with
the town council has over 18 years experience in the
leisure industry and spent time with the community
and BLAST determining their needs and looking at
their business case.
The report contains some cold, hard facts that
support the difficult decision taken by the council last
No council ever wants to remove a popular
community facility, but the pool was very costly to run
and the council has limited resources, which it will
invest in education and a much needed new school for