EVEN AFTER a flurry of support from local visitors to the Plascrug Leisure Centre, and the collection of 500 signatures on a petition urging Ceredigion County Council to rethink the decision to close its café, the council have stood by their decision to shut it down, claiming that it is an unavoidable casualty of a tightening budget.
While the petition called on the authority to consider asking for tenders for people to provide the service and reconsider the closure decision, council leader Ellen ap Gwynn insisted that with other areas losing council services, Aberystwyth residents will have to “deal with it”, while Cllr Rhodri Evans said that “losing a café is nothing compared to what is being lost in other parts of the county”.
But local councillor Paul James has hit out at council Cabinet members for refusing to revisit the decision to close the café or look at alternative options to closure, going as far as to accuse them of ignoring his representations as a local councillor.
The petition, started by centre user Andrew Curley, called on the Cabinet to reconsider the café’s future, with Cllr James backing arguments that it could hit the number of visitors to the leisure centre, especially parents booking children’s parties.
Before the announcement, Mr Curley, who visits the centre daily and uses its squash facilities, had this to say:
“I understand the council has got to cut costs but what they are going to end up doing is ripping the heart out of the leisure centre.
“There are children’s parties up there, able and disabled people use it, you have schools going there. I think the way they are going, they are going to close the leisure centre down completely. I wonder how many suits from the council go in there and use the leisure centre’s facilities. I use it every day and I see how many people are in there.”
A council spokesperson referred to a Cabinet report at the time which predicted that cutting the service would generate £37,000 of savings a year. Despite accepting the petition, Cllr Evans, the Cabinet member for lifestyle services, insisted the closure decision had been taken in 2013 with no councillor moving to call that decision in.