COMMUNITY leader Molly Conway has expressed her fear that a housing development would replace the leisure centre which serves one of Wales’s most deprived areas.

The Gibbonsdown Residents Board, chairwoman said the Holm View Leisure Centre, in Skomer Road, Barry, should be used as a facility catering for all generations at all times of the day.

Her call came as the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet met, on Monday, February 24, and declared it was seeking proposals for the future use of Holm View Leisure Centre.

The facility is currently operated by a management company, Legacy Leisure, but that arrangement is due to end on January 1, 2021.

Now the council is offering the building on a long-term lease, with a priority for use by the local and wider community.

Vale council cabinet member for leisure, arts and culture, Cllr Kathryn McCaffer said: "The current operator’s contract for Holm View expires in January 2021 and it is not financially viable for the council.

“That means we are making the building available for long-term lease.

“We are conscious of the important role Holm View Leisure Centre plays within the local area and are looking forward to receiving proposals for how it could be used for the benefit of the community in the future.”

Mrs Conway said she remembered attending the event at the centre in which Neil Kinnock MP “cut the first sod”.

“I’d like to see it used for all ages especially for the kids.

“It’s the only facility they have got for indoors and they need something undercover.

“The police were running a free football scheme for the kids and the kids need something like that to put their trust in them.

“It should also be used for the elderly.

“It is essential that building is kept open.

“The parties in power are going to say we are going to get rid of it for more houses.

“Gibbonsdown is a deprived area.

“We need facilities.”

Vale council Plaid Cymru leader, Cllr Ian Johnson said the building should be for the community.

He said: “Holm View was originally built during the 1980s as a leisure and community hub for the north-east of Barry.

“Sadly, it seems that the Vale council is on a mission to get rid of any public service that isn’t nailed down.

“This was a building for the community, and it is the community that should be making decisions on its future.

“There should be a wide community-led consultation about the future of Holm View, not just a sales brochure.”

Barry Town Council Court ward councillor, Dennis Clarke added: “It is not acceptable that services are taken away from the parts of town furthest from the centre.

“We are supposed to be promoting public health and community, not closing down council leisure centres because they don’t turn a profit.

“The Vale should take this opportunity to audit the needs of the town and support uses that are relevant for all members of our community.”

Tory Dyfan ward councillor, Leighton Rowlands said: “I’m deeply disappointment that Legacy Leisure have decided to pull out of running the Holm View Leisure Centre.

“This is an iconic building for the people of Barry.

“I see the cabinet will be looking to put it on the open market for interest.

“My concern and my concerns of Barry residents is if there is no uptake from voluntary or charitable organisations the council will dispose of for housing.

“The council needs to make every effort to ensure this facility is kept for the local residents.”

Vale MP, Alun Cairns said: “The Vale council should engage constructively with community groups, rather than see this an opportunity to build more houses.

“This is a very important facility in a key part of Barry.

“They need to offer flexible terms to potential tenants rather than take the opportunist approach they are following.”

Legacy Leisure and Vale AM Jane Hutt have been asked to comment.

Gibbonsdown Labour councillor and cabinet member, Margaret Wilkinson said the centre should be for the community.

Labour Gibbonsdown councillor, Julie Aviet said she did not wish to comment at this time.