Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething comments on threat to sporting facilities
Welsh Government’s Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething MS today fielded questions at the Senedd and responded to a query made by Ken Skates MS regarding the current threat posed to sporting facilities, and particularly swimming pools.
When asked what assessment the Welsh Government has made of how many swimming pools might close this winter because of rising energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis, Vaughan Gething commented:
“Public swimming pools are an important health and leisure resource, and equally an important part of our nation’s wellbeing. We know that many face unprecedented challenges; we don’t have an exact assessment of the number that may have to close; we will continue to monitor the situation closely and where necessary, if we need to, work with the UK Government to do everything possible to ensure that they remain open in the face of significant rises in energy and running costs.”
Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, in Ken Skates constituency, has been sustained and kept open through thick and thin courtesy of brilliant volunteer work. Vaughan Gething’s response was followed up by Ken Skates, who asked what support from either UK Government or Welsh Government leisure facilities like Plas Madoc can expect to come through the extraordinary challenges presented to them through the winter.
“We have some really big challenges,” stated Vaughan Gething. “I recognise that that activity is really challenged because of energy costs, and it’s one of things that isn’t really talked about, but the cost of chemical imports is a real issue in this and other sectors as well.
“We gave local government a generous settlement at the start of last year – when we announced a 9.4% increase in their budgets – and yet we’ve seen that overtaken by inflation, so local authorities aren’t full of lots of money to help these enterprises continue and succeed, and we know the damage that is done if they close.
“We’re looking forward to not just understanding what’s happening in the UK Government scheme for non-domestic energy users but then understanding how intensive energy users are to be treated as well, because I think swimming pools have a good case to be treated as an energy-intensive enterprise.
“So, we’ll continue to make the case at UK-level as well as trying to work constructively with our partners in local government, because I certainly want to see swimming pools continue for use for people of all ages.”
Vaughan Gething later noted that he’d be making statements over the coming weeks regarding the issue of wider support for businesses to move towards cheaper and greener forms of energy as well as access to shared energy initiatives.
You can view the full Plenary session on the Senedd TV website.
The Welsh Sports Association (WSA) is committed to ensuring the sustainability and future prosperity of the sport and leisure sector and recognises the need for large-scale savings.
This is why we have designed a tailored procurement offering for the industry, consisting of a Procurement Portal – powered by our specialist partners 2buy2 – that will launch imminently! Meanwhile, 2buy2’s services are available on a manual basis – visit our dedicated Procurement Service page for more details!