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Click here for Our Appeal for Support:Appeal to ALL Supporters of Harlech and Adrudwy Leisure
Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure is currently visiting the Community Councils in the area to discuss a financial package of support in order to secure the centre for years to come. We have written a proposal for the Community Councils of Talsaranau, Harlech, Llanfair, Llanbedr, Dyffryn & Tal y Bont and Barmouth which consists of increasing the precept so that local residents contribute an additional amount of money through their yearly council tax bill which would then be passed onto the Community Council and then onto Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure.
The current financial position of Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure is no different to 7 years when the Swimming Pool was taken over by a community and run by volunteers. Initially a large lottery bid was successful which enabled the centre to build a state of the art Climbing Wall and successful community café, there was also a revenue package within the Lottery bid which would help with the ongoing costs of the centre. This allowed some ‘breathing space’ to work on marketing the centre, make significant costs savings and put in place a clear strategic plan for Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure. There is no revenue funding available to help with the ‘running cost’ of a not for profit, social enterprise and we have even spoken to the Welsh Assembly and the Big Lottery about changes that need to happen to support projects such as ourselves.
The only option open to us is to approach our local Community Councils and ask for a contribution through the precept (Council Tax Payment). We have made significant savings over the years and increased our income but there is still a deficit in trading income of £100,000 a year. The Board of Directors are committed to raising £50,000 a year through various events they run through the year such as organising events and applying for small grants and increasing foot-fall but there is still £50,000 to find on a year on year basis and this is what we have asked the Community Councils to help with.
After consultation and extended discussions in 2016, it was eventually agreed that the contributions should be split sharing the cost between all six Ardudwy community councils with Barmouth paying less (50%) and Harlech & Llanfair paying more (x2). We do not propose or seek any changes to this formula for the 2018/19.
We do face some significant cost increases, principally in power and payroll due to inflation and minimum wage legislation. We will be looking to increase admission charges to offset part of this, but need to keep our entry fees affordable so propose to recover cost increases via a combination of efficiencies, admission charge increases and grant increases from the community councils.
We propose to increase the community council grants by the latest inflation figures; this is 3% and very close to the Gwynedd Council increases for the current year, see below for the figures.
We are requesting a 5 year commitment to this proposal from the Community Councils and Council Tax payment to rise with inflation every year.
In return for the support we will continue to offer FREE membership to all community charge payers living in the 6 Community Council areas. Currently membership costs £16 a year for an Adult and £6 for a Child. Membership gives an entry discount to both the swimming pool and climbing wall.
We are offering all members of the community of Talsarnau, Harlech, Llanfair, Llanbedr, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Tal y Bont and Barmouth – FREE MEMBERSHIP to Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure, as long as you live here permanently and not own a holiday home. This means you will save money on the entry price to all activities to include swimming and climbing and access to any offers in our Café.
To get this discount, you need to bring along a copy of your CURRENT Council Tax Bill, fill in a simple membership form and then you will be issued with a membership card which runs from April – March annually.
Please pop into the centre to get your membership.
Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure is a not for profit, Social Enterprise which is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Since taking over the running of the centre in 2010 as it was due to be closed by the Local Authority – the Board have worked hard to try and secure its future. Taking on a failing business was never going to be an easy task but it was seen as an essential service in this coastal area, an area struggling economically anyhow could not afford to loose another business and service, what would be next ? Running a Swimming Pool was always going to be a hard task due to the cost of heating a swimming pool but it was essential that we had a swimming pool in the area to provide swimming lessons to school children but also the health benefits of swimming to residents in the area which has an ageing population.
The business has run for the last 7 years with various pots of funding from the National Lottery and Gwynedd County Council but with no more revenue funding available from funding bodies and the cuts faces by the local authority, it was essential for us to look for an alternative form of funding. We did this by approaching the local Community Councils and presented a precept proposal to raise the £50,000 a year through the contribution that Community Councils from the Council Tax Payment. This would mean that each household would pay more on their council tax each year to raise the £50,000 needed to secure the future of the centre. The most any household would pay on an average Band D category would be £25 a year, 50p a week. All 6 Community Councils that we approached agreed to the proposal which includes Talsarnau, Harlech, Llanfair, Llanbedr, Dyffryn & Tal y Bont, Barmouth.
The community council precept funding is the corner stone of the long-term plan for HAL; this will help make this key community facility financially secure for the future.
The recent proposal by Gwynedd Council to transfer its leisure centres into a separate entity seems to be proceeding. We had applied to be included in this but were refused. We have been assured that we can apply again once the new company is set up; this is expected to be Autumn 2018 but there is no guarantee that we will be accepted as Gwynedd Council have stated very clearly that they have a budget in place for the new trust and there is no money allocated to add another leisure centre to the group. We feel strongly that Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure should be included but we have no control over Gwynedd Council budgets. This leaves us in a very difficult position with Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure as we are aware of local opinion about paying an additional amount of money on the council tax to maintain a leisure centre when other areas in Gwynedd have local access to a leisure centre. Gwynedd Council are of the opinion that having an alternative Leisure centre (Porthmadog) within 10 miles of Harlech is acceptable for the Ardudwy area. The reality of this, along with poor public transport is that many families without transport would struggle to get to Porthmadog Leisure Centre and children would miss out on learning to swim.
We have always been clear that the main reason we have fought so hard to keep Harlech & Ardudwy Hamdden open is so that local children can learn to swim in their local facility. We also know that if Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure was to close – our children will suffer. Local schools in Talsarnau, Harlech, Llanbedr, Dyffryn Ardudwy and Barmuth would struggle to transport children to Porthmadog for swimming lessons due to the cost but more importantly the time element. The primary school curriculum is very tight and schools could not afford the time for children to be out of the classroom to travel to Porthmadog. This could have a devastating effect on how well our children in the area will be able to swim. Did you know, the Physical Education Curriculum does NOT state that all children should be able to swim but offers swimming as a way of achieving some of the elements in the curriculum but there are alternatives to achieving those curriculum elements which does not involve swimming! The Sport Council for Wales have offered a minimum standard for swimming but this is not statutory and it is set at being able to swim 25 meters (1 Length of the Pool) in clothing and being able to tread water for 30 seconds – this is no real standard of swimming and we should be very concerned as we live in a coastal area. Currently all schools in the area use Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure for swimming lessons and we can safely say that our children have good access to swimming lessons but if Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure was to close then this could not be guaranteed and children may only have access to swimming lessons until they can swim the required 25 meters (1 length) and then no further swimming lessons would need to be offered. This would put tremendous pressure on families to pay for private lessons in another centre which again would have a time and cost element with further travel needed.
We also live in an area where we have an ageing population and we all know the benefits of swimming on health – would it be realistic for the older generation to travel further afield in order to go swimming !
The Ardudwy area is very poor for services as it is – can we really let something else in the area close, what hope do we offer young people to stay in the area and what do we offer those living in the area along with those visiting the area. There has been substantial investment in Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure since 2010 with over £1 million spent on a state of the art climbing wall (the only one in the Snowdonia National Park), a community café and substantial work on the basin of the swimming pool which extends its life for up to 50 years. There is still more investment needed in the centre to bring it up to modern times and this can be achieved if it has a secure future and there might be a lot more if can offer the community at large. We hear locally of residents telling us that they do not use the centre and have no intention of using the centre in the future but should that be a reason for closure as there are a lot of residents who do use it and as stated earlier – can we take the risk of local children not being able to swim. The cheapest day out for local families is a day on the beach and what wonderful beaches we have in the area, if we save 1 child’s life then its reason enough for us to continue the fight and keep going. The Volunteer Board of Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure give 1,000’s of hours to keep the centre going and it is no easy task, please – please think about coming along and helping us as we are also struggling due to the amount of work it takes to run a Leisure Facility in the community. We desperately need more help on the Volunteer Board so please consider this request for support.
We are proposing a 5 year commitment to the Council Tax Precept figures from the Community Councils as this will allows us to move the business forward and plan ahead. If there are any changes to the running of Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure then the local Community Councils can change the precept figures on a yearly basis.
It is not right that we need to pay an additional amount of money on our Council Tax to keep services which we should have access to anyhow but can we really allow Harlech & Ardudwy Leisure to close as the implications could have a detrimental effect on the children and families living in the area along with others living and visiting the area !
You can contact the Volunteer Board on: firstname.lastname@example.org