THE SPORTS clubs who are holding a public meeting next week to air their concerns about the Afan Lido plans have said they have tremendous support locally.
The campaigners are expecting “a very busy meeting” next week, at which several local sports clubs and concerned members of the public will discuss the proposals, which, they claim, are “substandard”.
The planned six-lane pool is not big enough, they say. They are also concerned that the lack of spectator facilities will not be adequate and that indoor sports such as karate, badminton and squash will not be well catered for.
“We feel it’s going to be a substandard facility,” said Robbie Phillips, a committee member of the Aberavon Surf Lifesaving Club who has been a leading voice in the campaign.
“When the plans came out, the dry-side sports were gobsmacked at how little there was for them. This should be a sporting facility but now we’ve got enterprise units and a library. The pool is only six-lanes, spectator facilities are lacking, and there is no learner pool.”
The campaign has the support of several local groups, including Afan Lido football club, Aberavon Surf Lifesaving Club, Aberavon Swimming Club and the Canoe Club.
Robbie Phillips said: “We as a club, together with Aberavon Swimming Club and our close links with the Lido, have always created significant opportunities for the ‘drown-proofing’ of children in the whole of the Borough. We have looked at other local authorities like Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, where new pools with superb facilities have virtually doubled their attendances – we want Port Talbot to have facilities like this – why should we settle for any less?”
The council carried out a consultation exercise on the Afan Lido proposals last year, but Robbie Phillips said that none of the key clubs in the area had been consulted.
“We feel the consultation was questionable. We asked the Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council [Steve Phillips] about it and he said they went out to groups. We asked which ones but he said he didn’t have a list in front of him. But we know that they haven’t asked any of the key clubs – they didn’t come to the swimming club, Afan Lido football club, Aberavon Surf Lifesaving Club, the Canoe Club – and these are all clubs that regularly used the Lido.”
The council’s website confirms six local groups were consulted, but does not list them. In all 2,628 local people were asked for their views. Many of the issues cited by the campaigners now were raised during the consultation but dismissed for various reasons, including cost.
The clubs in the current row met with Ali Thomas, leader of the council, last year to air their concerns, but a follow-up meeting was cancelled and they say there has been no further contact.
Along with sports clubs and local people, councillors and key officers of the council have been invited to next week’s meeting, though not many have confirmed their attendance.
“The Independent councillors and Plaid Cymru have been very supportive,” said Robbie Phillips, “but I think quite honestly the other councillors are keeping their heads down.”
The campaigners will meet with the council’s Chief Executive Steve Phillips on Monday to discuss their concerns.
They have appealed to local people to come to the public meeting on Tuesday 28 February at 7.30pm at the Four Winds in Sandfields to have their say about the plans.
Port Talbot MagNet asked Neath Port Talbot Council for a statement yesterday and asked whether council representatives would be attending the meeting, but has so far received no response.