The residents of Pontypridd Town Council area have sent an unequivocal message to the County Council who want to take away their paddling pool. Hands off!
A community poll held on 1st November delivered an overwhelming 'yes' vote of 2077 to 151 in favour of keeping the paddling pool in Ynysangharad Park. Rhondda Cynon Taff's Labour controlled Council plan to remove the much loved Grade 2 listed pool as part of their plans to bring the Lido back into use, but residents campaigning against it say the paddling pool is every bit as much a part of the town's heritage and should stay.
Council leader Anthony Christopher had tried to dismiss the campaign as political mischief making by the local Welsh Liberal Democrats, who were instrumental in bringing the issue to the attention of the public and co-ordinating the campaign efforts.
Trallwn County Councillor Mike Powell says they will find it a bit more difficult to dismiss public opinion now
"The Council say they had consulted widely on their plans, but pointed to only 609 people who had visited the Pontypridd regeneration exhibition over four days and who were not asked any direct questions or indeed had any explanations presented regarding the plans.
Now they have more than 2000 residents telling them in answer to a direct question that they want the pool to stay. The poll is not legally binding, but morally the Council surely have an obligation to the people they purport to represent and should take their opinions on board."
The poll was initiated at a public meeting where a minimum of 150 residents to were required to vote in favour of holding such a poll under the terms of the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011. In a statement issued at the time the leader of the Council said that if they were forced to reconsider the position over the paddling pool then they would lose funding for the Lido. The Council were awarded a grant of £2.3m by the Heritage Lottery Fund earlier this year and are hoping to get further funding form the Wales European Funding Office.
Campaign Manager Karen Roberts says that this statement is not borne out by information received by campaigners from the funding bodies.
"They have told us that there has been no mention of the paddling pool only that the Lido would be renovated. Aside from that the paddling pool, like the lido, is Grade 2 listed and so needs listed building consent before it can be removed. That has not been granted yet, and given the level of public objection then there is every reason to hope it will not be.
This campaign has been a genuine, grass roots, community campaign - it shows that people care about the Park and about the pool. They voted despite the threats of the Council that it could stop the Lido development, and surely now they must reconsider their plans."