THERE has been a call for the council to act as Merthyr Tydfil leisure centre’s swimming pool has been closed for almost a year and a half.
Gerald Jones, the MP for Merthyr Tydfil, said it has been closed for nearly 18 months following structural issues and there’s no re-opening in sight.
Local residents have asked Mr Jones to help get their swimming pool re-opened after almost a year and a half.
The pool at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre closed on December 2, 2019, after tiles inside the pool were found to be defective.
Since then, all tiles in all pools have been removed and swimmers have been forced to travel to Aberfan or to other boroughs in order to swim.
Leisure services in Merthyr Tydfil are run by Wellbeing Merthyr, also known as Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, but the ownership of leisure centre remains with the local council, Mr Jones said.
He is calling on the council to take urgent action to ensure swimmer can take a dip this summer.
“Swimming is a wonderful activity and a great way to stay healthy. But for residents here in Merthyr Tydfil, a year and a half without access to their pool has left swimmers high and dry,” Mr Jones said.
“After almost 18 months of the council tinkering with the problems, the pool remains closed to the public – with absolutely no indication as to when it might re-open.
“Even with the difficulties the Covid lockdowns have presented, residents rightly find it astonishing that the council hasn’t been able to fix this problem in 18 months. The council are floundering at the deep end.
“With the summer holidays fast approaching, I’ve asked the leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council to take urgent action to make sure residents can take a dip.”
The Labour opposition leader on Merthyr Tydfil Council, Councillor Darren Roberts, added: “Whilst the swimming pool in Aberfan has been open to residents, Merthyr’s flagship swimming pool has been closed causing disappointment to families across Merthyr Tydfil.
“The council is the landlord and owns the leisure centre so they should be working flat out to get repairs done so that the building can re-open as quickly as possible.
“I ask that the council urgently address this issue or residents will face another summer without their swimming pool.”
Merthyr Tydfil Council said the swimming pool at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre has been closed since December 2019 due to water leaks affecting the concrete and causing tiles to lift off.
Early in 2020, as building owner, the council commissioned a number of
surveys to try to find the root cause of the issue.
Once the council was told what work needed to take place, Wellbeing@Merthyr (Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust) – which leases the centre
from the council – made the council aware of their plans to potentially redevelop the entire leisure centre, including the pools.
In the meantime, the council said the first national lockdown in March severely hampered the work in creating a tools and equipment shortage.
Also, further structural issues which had not previously been known about were discovered at the pools, and much more investigatory work required than originally thought.
What began as removing the tiles from the floor of the main pool became removal of all tiles in all pools and all the surrounding areas.
Industrial ‘dryers’ were brought in, as the concrete sub-base was found to be waterlogged, and there were three to four months of
drying – which is now completed.
There is ongoing work to agree the level of refurbishment that can take place.
The council said it and Wellbeing@Merthyr are working together with a professional leisure facilities developer to focus primarily on redesigning the wet side area.
As soon as those plans are complete, they will be making them available for consultation.
Wellbeing@Merthyr chief executive Jane Sellwood said: “While the pool is closed, we’re encourage residents to use Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre pool, where we have welcomed back Merthyr Swim Club, Merthyr Tri Club, and individual and group swimming lessons, as well as Aqua Aerobics and Aqua Tots sessions.
“We launched the under-16s Free Swim initiative with Active Merthyr on May 31 and have seen over 300 young people access the pool through the scheme since then. We’ll be launching a similar initiative for over-60s soon.
“While we understand how very disappointing it is to have the pool at the leisure centre closed for this extended period, we want nothing more than to get it back up and running in a condition that is safe and accessible to all.”
Council leader Councillor Lisa Mytton said: “We know how frustrated the residents of Merthyr Tydfil are about not being able to use the pool for such a long period.
“But it’s been an incredibly complex problem that both the council and Wellbeing@Merthyr have spent considerable time and effort trying to resolve.
“We ask you to please bear with us because we are doing our best to get the pools open again as soon as we can.”