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What does the future hold for Pontardawe swimming pool?

Pontardawe Swimming Pool (Pic: Google Maps)

RESIDENTS in Pontardawe say they fear losing their town’s swimming pool for good in the coming year unless something is done by the local council.

Pontardawe swimming pool was closed in November 2022, after the discovery of serious defects relating to a void around the training pool and columns under spectator seating, as well as the deterioration of  structural concrete in pool tank walls and external walls.

It was re-opened in January of 2023 after temporary repair work estimated to be worth around £141,000 was carried out, however it was noted by council bosses that this is not a permanent fix and would only last for a maximum of two years.

With that period set to come to an end in January 2025, and no plans yet announced for the development of a new pool in the area, locals say they are starting to fear the worst, with the possibility that the facility could be totally lost.

It has even led to an online petition being started by residents, calling on members of Neath Port Talbot Council to secure a new swimming pool for Pontardawe, which currently has almost 2,000 signatures.

The petition read: “Pontardawe swimming pool has been an integral part of our community. It’s not just a place to swim, but a hub for local clubs, schools and activities. The Pontardawe swimming pool is more than just an amenity – it’s part of our identity in the Swansea Valley.

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“Unfortunately, our beloved swimming pool is nearing its end. In less than two years’ time, it will close as it is economically unrepairable.

This leaves us with an urgent need to ensure that Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council replaces the existing facility once it closes.

“The loss of this facility would be devastating for our community. It serves as a vital resource for local schools and activities and is well-utilised by various swimming clubs and residents alike.”

There had previously been a solution to the Pontardawe pool issue, though it was one that few people were happy with, first put forward by the previously Labour-run council.  It included plans to close three primary schools at Alltwen, Llangiwg and Godre’rgraig, replacing them with a new facility for 630 full-time pupils and 140 part-time nursery pupils, on land at Parc Ynysderw.

As part of those plans a new public swimming pool would also have been included on the site with the purpose of replacing the current pool in Pontardawe.

This was later ruled out when the new rainbow coalition in charge of the council following the most recent local government elections decided to scrap those proposals in 2023, following what was described as an “overwhelming” backlash from teachers, parents and residents.

Jill Lord is a local town councillor in Pontardawe and said it was a worrying time with the closure of the pool looming. She said: “We’re very concerned about this because its a thriving pool with swimming clubs and lots of schools using it, so it would be a big blow if it wasn’t replaced.

“It’s a terrible situation and it would have a catastrophic effect on the health of people in the Swansea Valley, not just in terms of physical health but mental health as well. Its a really big asset to the area, and there’s a lot of public support being shown now in the hopes that we can get a new pool.”

Aaron Billing, 34, added: “It’s another popular local facility within Pontardawe that could soon shut. If a new pool isn’t developed the nearest pool will be in Neath, and both children and older residents will have to travel get there. With the reduction in access to public transport, it makes swimming much less accessible.”

Another resident who did not wish to be named said: “People come from miles round to use the facility in Pontardawe, particularly the hydro-pool so it will be greatly missed. There’s a swimming club with around 800 members there, as well as school use, so its vital that we replace it.”

A spokesperson for Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Council officers are working through the options and a report will be brought before members later this year.”

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