Conservative County Councillors in Abergavenny have spent the past few weeks intensively lobbying for major improvements to the town’s leisure centre, which is in need of modernisation.
Cllr Sheila Woodhouse (Grofield ward), Cllr Maureen Powell (Castle ward) and Cllr Paul Jordan (Cantref ward) have been pressing Monmouthshire’s administration to give the green light to proposals to completely upgrade the upstairs of the leisure centre, with a new gym and new fitness equipment.
It was announced earlier this year that a refurbishment could cost around £1.2million, but there have been concerns over affordability because MCC has suffered millions of pounds worth of losses due to lost leisure centre income during the pandemic.
Cllr Sheila Woodhouse said: “We’re really grateful to the council’s cabinet member for the opportunity to champion investment in Abergavenny, which would be of enormous benefit to residents in the town. I know money is tight, but an upgrade to the leisure centre would be valuable for so many residents of all ages to socialise and keep fit.”
Cllr Paul Jordan said: “Abergavenny Leisure Centre is in real need of some serious investment for a modern gym with state of the art equipment, better changing areas and flexible spaces for activities like dance and spin.
‘‘A renovation would be costly but it would be such a worthwhile investment in the wellbeing of the local community and something our town desperately needs.
‘‘The council’s administration really needs to back these plans.”
Cllr Maureen Powell added: “This pandemic has been a dreadful time for so many residents in Abergavenny. It would be fantastic if our town had a modern and better equipped leisure centre, which would be so beneficial for both mental and physical health. We have been lobbying hard behind the scenes and feel quietly confident that this investment will now be forthcoming.”
Next week Monmouthshire Council’s cabinet will decide whether to recommend that £1.7 million is released by the council to fund the refurbishment.
If they approve this, then full council will have the final say on whether the revamp goes ahead. It the revamp does go ahead the leisure centre could close for several months.
A council report says the construction would take around 20 weeks and would likely start in autumn this year.
The full proposal is to upgrade the whole leisure centre, but this cannot take place until the new school, which will be on the site of King Henry VIII School, is complete in 2024.
Instead, the work that could take place later this year would be redevelopment of the first floor fitness hub to include a fitness suite, spin studio, fitness studio, changing rooms and a viewing area to the ground floor pool.
The second phase of the project, which will take place after the new school building has been completed, would see the sports hall, ground floor reception area and entrance all repurposed.
Membership at Abergavenny Leisure Centre has fallen dramatically in the last year – predominantly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In February 2020 the leisure centre had 1,862 members, but in May this year it only had 1,240 members with many continuing to freeze their memberships. This is a 33 per cent decrease.
The report says: “There continues to be a risk that the increase in memberships would not occur for a significant period of time however there is a general confidence in the industry and peoples appetite to return.”
The closure of the upstairs of the leisure centre for 20 weeks could result in a £105,000 income loss.
A report on the plan says there are “health and safety issues” that need to be taken into account.
It says: “A compound would need to be installed on site and access to the rest of the site would have to be carefully managed.”
Alternative provision could be made, but it would impact on school usage so would need to be carefully managed. Discussions with the school are on-going.