Members were provided with a report which sought approval for the allocation of funds for emergency works to be carried out at Pontardawe Swimming Pool.
The circulated report highlighted that contractors ARUP were commissioned to carry out a building review of Pontardawe Swimming Pool. Officers were asked if they could provide detail in regards to the costings of the condition survey that was carried out by ARUP. The Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning explained that they didn’t have the information at hand, however would be able to provide the costings to the Committee outside of the meeting.
A discussion took place in regards to the nature of the works that were proposed to be carried out to the swimming pool. It was noted that the works listed within the circulated report were very much temporary in nature and was a short term option in order to keep the facility open; the remedial work carried out will be sufficient for a maximum of a two year period, and after this time there will only be two choices to determine between. The first choice mentioned was substantial refurbishment work, the cost of which was likely to be more than the value of the asset; and the second choice would be to replace the swimming pool.
It was queried whether Officers were seeking funding for a new swimming pool. It was explained that Officers weren’t aware of any grant that would fund a replacement swimming pool at this time; Sport Wales capital fund limit was noted to be around £50k, which wouldn’t cover the full costs of funding a new swimming pool. Officers agreed to make some enquiries into this query, and would inform Members if there was any new funding streams available.
Members asked for reassurances that the swimming pool would re-open as soon as possible for public use. It was highlighted that the remedial work was required to be undertaken in order to re-open the swimming pool and maintain the facility. Officers had received assurances from the contractor that it would take 3 weeks to carry out the remedial work; however, this didn’t include the time needed for the planning and design work, and the Christmas period would also come in between the pool re-opening. It was mentioned that the proposed date for re-opening was the end of January 2023.
Concerns were raised in regards to the extent of deterioration of the structure, and that there were recommendations still outstanding from the 2014 report on Pontardawe Swimming Pool. The Chief Executive explained that the Council had a large infrastructure and insufficient funds to be able to maintain all of those structures to the preferred standard; this had generally been the position for a number of years. It was noted that most often when the Council received grant funding, it was directed towards new infrastructure; there wasn’t enough investment funding available to invest in the existing structures, therefore there was deterioration in a lot of those structures. In terms of the specifics of Pontardawe Swimming Pool, Officers confirmed they would investigate as to why there was a gap between the inspections. A suggestion was made for the Environment, Regeneration and Streetscene Services Scrutiny to add this matter to their Forward Work Programme, as this was an issue across a lot of the Councils existing infrastructure; it would be beneficial for the Members of this Committee to gain a better insight into the current issues and potentially make some recommendations.
It was noted that there were a number of active groups that use Pontardawe Swimming Pool, such as the Celtic Dolphins, who were committed to qualifying and moving forward with their chosen sport. Members asked if there had been any consideration given for arrangements to assist these groups during the time that the swimming pool will be closed. Officers stated that they had emailed the Chief Executive of Celtic Leisure on this matter, who had confirmed that they were looking into accommodating the swimming club in an early morning session at Neath Leisure Centre, by sectioning off 2 or 3 of the swimming lanes from the public. It was mentioned that the swimming pool would have been closing in December due to the Christmas period, however Celtic Leisure were actively looking into how they could accommodate the service users further; Members would be informed accordingly, if any further information was received on this matter.
Officers highlighted the positive feedback they had received in regards to the response from the staff Pontardawe Swimming Pool; the Manager and Duty Team had handled this matter very positively and professionally.
Following scrutiny, the Committee was supportive of the proposal to be considered by the Cabinet.