A BARRY leisure facility has been labelled “embarrassing” during a discussion about its future.

Proposals to make improvements to leisure facilities at Colcot Sports Centre and nearby Buttrills Playing Fields were discussed at a Vale of Glamorgan Council scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, April 2.

At the meeting, the council’s operational manager for neighbourhood services and healthy living, David Knevett, said the changing facilities at the Colcot site have fallen into disrepair and are in need of replacement.

Proposals put to cabinet members in February include improving changing facilities at the Buttrills and exploring options for the old car park and disused areas of the Colcot centre. These could include housing and a new cycle pump track.

Mr Knevett said: “The current building at the sports centre is beyond its life expectancy and frankly from a women and girls’ perspective… are embarrassing.”

Colcot Sports Centre opened in 1963 and the site is used by women’s football teams.

However, a council report states it can no longer meet the needs of women and girls’ football, which it calls the fastest growing physical activity in the county.

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and wellbeing, Cllr Gwyn John, said the lack of adequate facilities at Colcot and Buttrills has been a “big problem for a long time”.

He added: “Quite honestly, they are fortunate to be allowed in the Alliance League because the standards are not [up to requirement].

“[It is] most embarrassing that the largest town in Wales is left without facilities for ladies.”

Grants of up to £500,000 are being made available by Football Association of Wales (FAW) to support grassroots developments.

Barry And District News: Colcot Sports Centre is at threat of being demolishedColcot Sports Centre is at threat of being demolished (Image: Google Maps)

Vale of Glamorgan Council said it has been in discussion with the FAW about its proposals and a council report states it has been developing a grant application.

Cllr John said: “To throw this opportunity away would be very foolish. Across the Vale of Glamorgan we want better facilities… [to] not have good facilities in your major towns is a crime.”

A number of residents who live near the Colcot and Buttrills sites attended Tuesday’s scrutiny committee meeting and raised concerns about proposals to develop on land at the Colcot deemed “surplus to requirement” by the council.

They said they are worried that existing green space, enjoyed by residents and dog walkers, could be built over.

One resident, Glyn Pooley, said: “How in any way can a proposal to build houses and car parks on green and recreational land… [that] help with peoples’ wellbeing?

“With an ever increasing older population in the Vale… these people need access close to where they live to informal recreation as well as formal.”

The council report on the proposals for the Colcot and Buttrills site states the existing sports centre building could be redesigned for housing to generate money for the leisure improvements. It also states a new car park would also be required.

Residents were assured by council leader Lis Burnett that the proposal is in its early stages and it would need to go through a number of processes, including consultation and planning, before being taken forward.

Barry And District News: The centre, which has sports pitches that could be turned over to housing, was described as embarrassingThe centre, which has sports pitches that could be turned over to housing, was described as embarrassing (Image: Newsquest)

Plaid Cymru councillor, Cllr Ian Johnson, who called the proposal in for scrutiny, said: “I went to the site earlier today for a walk around and I noticed that there wasn’t much change since I first played there in the 1980s.

“I would like to support a number of speakers in saying that it is very sad to see that there was no development of the site and the facilities over the decades, but we have reached the point where the facilities are not acceptable for clubs to be promoted and for the women to be playing there.”

Currently, many football teams are required to use the changing rooms at the Colcot site before crossing Colcot Road to use the Buttrills playing fields.

Labour councillor, Cllr Belinda Loveluck Edwards, said she has spent years as a parent having to navigate between Buttrills and Colcot for twice weekly football sessions.

“It is time I will never get back,” she said. “I have witnessed the chaos of parking, the children refusing to use the facilities… and having to deal with wet bedraggled boys with nowhere warm, safe or accessible in which to change, but my son had that chance unlike girls of his age who were rarely seen on the pitch.

“This is now thankfully changing and this evening we have a critical chance to stand up for those budding Jess Fishlocks or future Barry Town Women team players.”

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet commended the proposals for Colcot Sports Centre and Buttrils Playing Fields, which will go out to consultation.