Hard work by campaigners looks set to save Cymmer Pool

15 June 2016

An agreement that will pave the way for Cymmer Pool to re-open is expected to be announced by the end of this month.

The pool, which closed at the end of last year due to council spending cuts, has been the focus of a huge community campaign to save it for the people of the Afan Valley.

Campaigners formed a group called Afan Valley Community Leisure (AVCL) and bought the pool from Neath Port Talbot for £1, on the understanding that they would take over the running of the facility.

AVCL appointed local operator Llandarcy Park Ltd, a subsidiary of Neath Port Talbot college, to take on the running of the pool.

It soon became clear though that major works on the pool were needed before they could take it over. A structural survey showed that replacing and repairing worn out machinery and infrastructure would cost £163,000.

Campaigners said they were “shocked and disappointed” and blamed a failure to maintain the pool when it was under council ownership.

Members of AVCL refused to be discouraged, however, and went all out to find partners to help bridge the funding gap and, following a meeting of interested parties, it looks like they have been successful.

A spokesperson for the community group said: “AVCL has been able to secure pledges of support to help bridge the funding gap that is inevitable in the running of any community swimming pool. And we feel this meeting has found a way to address any structural or operational issues that could hold up the pool being re-opening.

“If we can get an agreement signed by the end of June then the next stage will involve the practical steps that need to be taken to actually get the pool up and running once again.

“Once the pool is re-opened the support from the public in the Upper Afan Valley and wider afield will be vital to the success of the project.”

The meeting included representatives from Neath Port Talbot Council, Neath Port Talbot College, Llandarcy Park Ltd, Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Services and Afan Valley Community Leisure, David Rees AM and a representative of Stephen Kinnock MP.

They agreed a timetable with a view to seeing a written agreement in place for the pool transfer to NPT College / Llandarcy Park Ltd by the end of June.

Meanwhile, the hard work of the Cymmer Pool campaigners has been recognised in an award from the Council for Voluntary Services.

Said the AVCL spokesperson: “Getting to this stage has involved a lot of very hard and committed work by local campaigners and our public representatives. We are also grateful for the support we have had from a number of outside partners.”

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