Summer start on new Afan Lido
WORK on Port Talbot's new Afan Lido should finally get under way this summer.
Although the timetable is sketchy, it's likely the seafront complex will then open either late next year or early 2015.
The task and finish group of councillors set up to examine the rebuild proposals has now finalised its recommendations.
These will go to cabinet members for final decision next Wednesday. Given the in-depth nature of the task and finish group's investigations, chances are cabinet will back those recommendations.
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The group was set up after Neath Port Talbot Council and campaigners failed to reach agreement on crucial elements, including the size of the pool and its location.
Campaigners wanted eight lanes while the council wanted a smaller version. They were also insistent the Lido should be rebuilt on its original location, while the council favoured Hollywood Park.
One of the key recommendations of the task and finish group is an eight-lane pool. The downside for campaigners is that cabinet will be recommending to stick with Hollywood Park.
Aberavon Lifeguard Club spokesman Harry Worth said he was happy with the proposed size of the pool, as eight lanes was something the club had fought particularly hard for.
"We are pleased the pool will have a boom and removable floor, while there will also be a learner pool and a spectator gallery," said Mr Worth.
"We would like to have seen some kind of Jacuzzi or sauna facility for older people, but overall we are extremely satisfied.
"At least the task and finish group has taken the time to examine the various issues necessary to come to a sensible conclusion for the communities of Neath and Port Talbot."
Aberavon Beach has been without its main indoor attraction since the fire of December 2009. The building was subsequently demolished and the site now stands empty.
The estimated cost is £13.6 million. Of this, around £2.1 million will come from the sale of the original Lido site, one of the reasons why the council favours Hollywood Park.
Another is that the new Lido will incorporate the bowling alley that never opened, and allow the council to regenerate Hollywood Park as a whole.
Council chief executive Steve Phillips emphasised the task and finish group could only make recommendations, with the final decision resting with cabinet.
"Assuming the recommendations are approved then we would want to be on site sometime during the summer," he said.
"The idea is to have it built and fitted out by the end of next year, weather permitting, or early in 2015 at the latest.
"It has now been more than three years since the fire and we are anxious to start making progress."