MORE than 5,000 people have called on Powys County Council to reverse its decision to close a “valuable” leisure facility.
Staylittle Outdoor Centre has been earmarked for closure in order to save Powys County Council (PCC) £130,000 a year.
The centre is situated next to Llyn Clywedog and is the council’s only outdoor recreation facility. It has been run by not-for-profit Freedom Leisure since 2015.
A petition to PCC to reverse the decision was immediately launched by Llanidloes resident Maggie Fitzpatrick-Reeves and has now surpassed more than 5,000 signatures.
Maggie said: “I am amazed, it’s getting bigger and bigger.
“We are hoping to deliver the petition to County Hall soon and it is on the agenda for next week’s Llanidloes Town Council meeting which I will be going to.
“Local people and local councils are well behind us.
“They’ve said it will save £130,000, but they need to consider the cost of closing it.
“What are they going to have to pay out to get out of the contract with Freedom Leisure? And what about all the equipment that will now go to waste?” she asked.
When the decision to close the centre was announced, Cllr Rachel Powell, Cabinet Member for Leisure, said there were no “viable” takeover bids put forward following a marketing exercise.
But Ms Fitzpatrick-Reeves hopes the council will back down to the mounting pressure and find the saving elsewhere.
She added: “I know that the council received a bid to buy it and yet they said none was viable.
“It is such a valuable resource.”
Cllr Gareth Morgan, who was involved in the opening of the centre in 1993, is determined to see it saved.
He said: “To hit 5,000 signatures is absolutely fantastic.
“That place is vital, it’s so important. There is nowhere like it.
“If they close it they are going to be taking an opportunity from a lot of people’s lives. All the local children go there with school.
“Compare that saving of £130,000 to the combined salaries of the cabinet members.”
Many of those who have backed the petition online have shared their memories of trips to Staylittle and how the loss of the facility would affect future generations.
Lyn Lewis wrote: “Don’t lose a fantastic facility in a beautiful part of Mid Wales.
“It gives children the opportunity to be children and experience a wide range of activities.
“I was fortunate enough to use the centre when I was at high school, please don’t prevent future generations from doing the same.”
Meanwhile Andrea Spiers commented: “It’s a centre of education and personal development.
“Outdoor experience and practical education are crucial for people of all ages to guide and build skills and confidence. Places like this are too important to remove.”
n To sign the petition, find ‘Save Staylittle Outdoor Centre’ on www.change.org