Afan Lido sell-off denied as chief speaks out to halt rumours
RUMOURS that the site of the old Afan Lido has already been sold off to developers have been denied by Neath Port Talbot Council's top officer.
Chief executive Steve Phillips also spoke out to scotch rumours that the building was not covered by insurance when it was destroyed by fire two and a half years ago.
Neath Port Talbot Council's proposals for a £13.6 million replacement have encountered fierce opposition.
Residents have condemned plans for a six-lane swimming pool, arguing that only an eight-lane pool would provide the flexibility needed for schools, clubs and the general public to use at the same time.
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Rather than rebuild the Lido in its original location, Neath Port Talbot wants to shift it to neighbouring Hollywood Park to link it to existing buildings including the never-opened bowling alley.
During an often heated public meeting at the Princess Royal Theatre, Mr Phillips explained the council didn't want to do "half a job" with its regeneration ambitions for the seafront.
"That is why we have looked at the future of the bowling alley and Water Margin and other buildings in coming up with the design," he said. "We don't want to do half a job. It's important to take this opportunity to complete the job.
Residents wanted to know what was happening with the old site, amid rumours it had already been sold off for development.
Mr Phillips said: "No decisions have been made on the future use of that land. We're not ruling anything in or out.
"We are trying to go for the regeneration of the whole seafront. We will probably take that land to the market at some point."
When challenged over where the money from the land sale would go, he repeated: "No decisions have been taken."
Mr Phillips said he also wanted to scotch the rumour that the Lido was not insured.
"We were insured. Those negotiations have been complicated and have secured £5.7 million of insurance money."
Residents also challenged the council's proposals to incorporate a library — arguing the nearby Morrison Road library had only just been refurbished — and enterprise starter units into the new Afan Lido complex.
One Sandfields resident, who did not give his name, said: "We don't want a leisure facility with a library and all these other things. We want a pool where we can produce wonderful swimmers.
"I don't think you realise the passion this is causing, and the real upset."
Head of partnerships and community development Russell Ward said the council wanted as much flexibility as possible within the available budget.
Mr Ward said the days of single-purpose buildings were over, adding: "We need to take a long-term view about what we can provide in the future."