THE deferment of the decision on the future of the new Afan Lido has been hailed a victory for people power by campaigners.
At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday – which should have seen a vote taken to decide the future of the Lido – council leader Ali Thomas asked for the matter to be deferred to a “task and finish group” for further consideration.
Charity fundraiser Captain Beany, who is a member of the Port Talbot People Against the Inferior Rebuild of Afan Lido committee, said they were pleased with the decision to defer and that it represented an example of people power.
“It is good to know our committee has made a bit of a difference,” he said.
Captain Beany said he had encouraged local children to do their own version of the campaign petition and added: “It is their future.”
Vice-chairman of the group, Jamie Hornsey, said they had received “massive support” from councillors of all parties.
The plans to decide exactly what facility will replace the Afan Lido Sports Complex after it was badly damaged by fire in December 2009 have sparked an impassioned campaign.
Campaigners had argued that the Council’s originally proposed six-lane pool would not meet local needs, and also asked that a plan to include the Morrison Road Library and enterprise units in the new centre be scrapped in favour of better leisure facilities.
They wanted an eight-lane pool, spectator facilities and a sports hall big enough to accommodate eight badminton courts, as well as a raft of other measures.
They had also asked that the Lido remain on its original site.
The campaign gathered more than 10,600 signatures on their petition and more than 6,000 members joined their Facebook group.
In the report, prepared for Wednesday‘s cabinet meeting, leisure bosses have made several concessions to local demand, including providing an eight-lane swimming pool (without a movable floor and a lengthways boom) and removing the enterprise units from their plans.
But, though the Council acknowledged “community desire” for an eight-lane pool, they said many of the other items on the campaign’s “shopping list” were unaffordable.
The report states that “the net effect of the campaign proposals is to reduce the budget available by £2 million and increase the capital cost of the project by over £2.5 million”.
It has also been recommended in the report that the new Lido is incorporated into the Hollywood Park site stating that “to do otherwise significantly undermines the regeneration of the Aberavon Seafront as a whole”.
Following Wednesday’s cabinet meeting a council spokesman said: “Neath Port Talbot’s Cabinet has deferred a decision on proposals for the new Afan Lido development and Aberavon seafront to a Task and Finish Group of the relevant scrutiny committee. The terms of reference, membership and other arrangements in respect of the Task and Finish Group will be agreed as soon as possible.”