Future may be bleak for Rhyl and Prestatyn's top tourist attractions

Published date: 18 December 2013 |
Published by: Matt Jones 
Read more articles by Matt Jones  Email reporter


THE fate of four of the region's top tourist attractions are hanging in the balance after a funding row.

Rhyl Sun Centre may have closed its doors for the final time after operator Clwyd Leisure said it has no funds to carry on.

Clwyd Leisure has also said the Nova Centre and the North Wales Indoor Bowls Centre in Prestatyn may have to close as of March 31, with reduced hours at the bowls centre from January.

Up to 70 permanent and 55 seasonal jobs are at risk across the three attractions.
In a separate development, Denbighshire Council has been accused of putting the Prestatyn Scala Cinema and Arts Centre at risk with a 25 per cent cut to its funding.
The future of Rhyl’s flagship Sun Centre attraction is hanging in the balance after a funding row.

As the Journal went to press it was unclear if the dispute between operator Clwyd Leisure and Denbighshire Council, which also affects the Nova Centre and North Wales Indoor Bowls Centre in Prestatyn, would allow the facilities to open from April next year.

The Sun Centre, which opened in the 1980s, could have closed its doors for the final time with the loss of more than 70 jobs while the Nova and the Bowls Centre could close as of March 31.

Bosses at Clwyd Leisure said cash balances will be exhausted beyond what is needed for an orderly close down of the business after a reduction in funding from the council.

A Clwyd Leisure spokesman said: “It is with regret that Clwyd Leisure has started consultation with its staff regarding potential redundancy of the workforce of 70 and the further loss of 55 seasonal posts. The company made Denbighshire Council aware it could not continue with the proposed reduced funding level.

“We have offered to continue working with the authority on the transfer back of the facilities and staff into their control. The important issue now is for the council to gain political approval as soon as possible on transferring back the facilities and staff. When this is agreed Clwyd Leisure could direct effort to work with the council to ensure the Sun Centre opens in April and the other facilities continue to operate.”

Denbighshire Council’s corporate director for communities Hywyn Williams, said:

“We have a desire to see the Sun Centre re-open. We would work with an administrator to try and protect jobs. At this stage, it is not possible to say what will happen to the facilities as we have not been notified by the board of their current position. I have written to them and asked for a response by yesterday (Tuesday).

“Denbighshire has very ambitious plans to improve the facilities at the Nova and Sun Centre which also links to improvements to the Pavilion Theatre.

“There is a real commitment by this council to make sure the leisure offer in Denbighshire is second to none, no matter who runs the facilities.”

Denbighshire Council announced in January that in 2016 the Sun Centre was to be replaced by an ambitious £10 million aquatic centre with development partners Alliance Leisure, saying the Sun Centre would stay open until that time.

Rhyl mayor, councillor Andy Rutherford, said: “The Sun Centre is a massive part of Rhyl. It is nearing being past its shelf-life. I would like to see it stay open until the new aquatic centre is built.”

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane said: “A number of people have already contacted me expressing their concerns over the news as they regularly use the facilities. There are plans in the pipeline to improve or enhance leisure facilities in Rhyl and Prestatyn which is good news. We need all year round attractions not just for local people but also for visitors to the area.”

Clwyd Leisure and Denbighshire Council are embroiled in a row over funding for the three attractions.

Bosses at the independent company which runs the three sites say reduced funding from the council has triggered the crisis.

They say when the company was created in 2001, Denbighshire Council signed a funding agreement protected by contract and that funding could not be reduced without the agreement of both parties.

The authority has reduced funding from £391,000 to £195,000 per year.

A spokesman said: “In 2013, the council imposed a reduction of a further £50,000, and propose to make further year on year funding reductions of £50,000 per year.”
Denbighshire Council said Clwyd Leisure had been aware of the reduction for the past three years.

Corporate director for Communities, Hywyn Williams, said: “Times have changed. We have had to re-set our priorities. We do have the ability to vary and negotiate.
Clwyd Leisure has received more direct support than other arms length organisation to deal with this reduction.

“During the first year of the funding reduction, we supported the company, by not actioning the saving. It was used instead to pay for the repairs to the Sun Centre roof.

“Denbighshire runs seven leisure centres throughout the year (50 weeks) with a current subsidy of £500,000 while the Clwyd Leisure subsidy has been £295,000 per annum to run three facilities, the Sun Centre only being open for 15 weeks a year. We are clearly sad that Clwyd Leisure has got to this point, and if it does go into administration, we would want the company to deal fairly and effectively with its workforce and this process.

“We don’t want to see people lose their jobs.”

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