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Cynon-Valley Pals and the Aberdare Splash Pad

Cynon-Valley Pals and the Aberdare Splash Pad

Aberdare Park is in the news again with Cynon-Valley Pals and the Splash Pad, AberdareOnline has been lobbying the Council to fund the Aberdare Park Splash Pad just like they do for Pontypridd Lido, The Lido is a nonprofit making facility funded by the Residents of RCT so why is the council not funding this kids facility in Aberdare and the other pools in RCT?

Volunteers run the remaining Paddling Pools in Cynon Valley just like the Splash Pad, Friends of Aberdare Park say: “Since COVID-19 and the subsequent cost of living crisis, all community groups have experienced a significant drop off from volunteers willing to commit – we are no exception to this and have spent many an hour trying to encourage people to help us – sadly with little success.”

It is a big ask for someone to be a committed volunteer and the volunteers who run Friends of Aberdare Park should be proud of their achievement, but it is clear there is a staffing problem.

Contrast Lee Gardens Pool in Penrhiwceiber the pool is also run by Volunteers, and the system works well. If you follow them on social media you can see the commitment and all the work the volunteers put in for the community and have received the Kings Award for Voluntary Service.

Cynon–Valley Pals is a Play and Leisure Service for children with disabilities awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Cynon Valley Pals works with special needs children and their families to offer respite care. The children they work with range from 3 to 11 years old and participate in organised activities and day trips. The children are taken on trips daily to parks, leisure centres, adventure playgrounds, farms and soft play centres. The children gain confidence as they participate in team games and attempt new activities with the support of volunteers.

For more information please call: 07967 845056 or 07875 701847   

Below is taken from FB from Cynon–Valley Pals

Splash Pad Update from Cynon-Valley Pals

In response to our post from Monday, Friends of Aberdare Park have unfortunately made the decision to cancel the weekly quiet session for children with disabilities. We are deeply disappointed and are seeking an alternative arrangement for our children.

We would like to thank Friends of Aberdare Park for the sessions over the last few years. We are disappointed that we are no longer able to work together to deliver accessible and inclusive sessions for those that need them.

We have been asked by Friends of Aberdare Park not to discuss this on social media so we will not be able to respond to comments about the cancellation of the sessions. This was the decision of Friends of Aberdare Park and they have asked that any queries are submitted directly to them. We have asked them for a face-to-face meeting to discuss a way forward and await their response.

You can read the comments relating to the Splash Pad on Cynon–-Valley Pals’s FB account

Friends of Aberdare Park have two local councillors on the committee the councillors represent  Aberdare West Ward, Ann Crimmings Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure and Councillor Sharon Rees, prominent members of the council should be aware of the council’s Annual Equality Report on Visitor Attractions: The team continue to consult with local groups that provide opportunities for children with disabilities to better understand local needs, for example, quiet sessions in play areas targeting children with autism and the provision of inclusive play equipment.

AQUADARE – ABERDARE PARK

Is the only Splash Pad in South Wales not funded by the council why?

Friends of Aberdare Park: A statement regarding Cynon Valley PALS quiet sessions.

There are several factors affecting the decision to decline a request for a quiet session for Cynon Valley PALS this year which has all been communicated in full to the group.  Not all these reasons can be shared.

We are in no way restricting access to any members of the community and visitors to the park.

Aquadare is open every day to all – irrelevant of any protected characteristic.  We have never restricted access to anyone and have acted positively since the start.  The gates are open – it is a free to use facility with public access to all.

When setting out the plans and proposals to build the Splash pad and subsequent funding requests the focus of our attention was on how we could ensure the facility was sustainable and fully accessible.

To this end and with a significant amount of research, surveys and consultation with the public and with the support of the community we submitted a request for an asset transfer and funding so that the community together could run the facility.  During all this – we were not asked for quiet sessions so were not aware that this would be a need – although – we knew there would be quieter times and busy times that children could benefit from naturally.

We saw ourselves as the instigator of change and one key component was to make the facility fully accessible – especially to those that are disabled or less able to access similar types of facilities.

This is why we built a splashpad rather than reconditioned what existed and improved what was the Paddling Pool. 

We have seen tremendous inclusion – with the disabled, wheelchair bound users, able bodied children and those with learning difficulties all playing together, which was the whole objective of the proposal and subsequent achievement.  This was a key element and passion for members of FOAP as they have disabled children in their family so fully appreciate the need to be as broad a spectrum of accessibility.

Since COVID 19 and the subsequent cost of living crisis, all community groups have experienced a significant drop off from volunteers willing to commit – we are no exception to this and have spent many an hour trying to encourage people to help us – sadly with little success.  We fully understand this though, as we ourselves have other commitments and this is a passion rather than a job. 

There are some members who were there at the outset in 2015 who have been persistent and dogged in ensuring we make the communities dream a reality.  This has not been without its challenges.

We have thoroughly taken into consideration the needs of ALL and this decision has not been taken lightly. 

For two years we have struggled to gather enough volunteer support to put on the PALS sessions where only certain people can attend.  This is because we must literally tell people to leave and get out of the splashpad because we have a quiet session taking place.  The PALS have supported this effort, but we have had a tremendous amount of complaints to deal with from other members of the community – including other disability support groups.  It has led people to complain and state – why can the Cynon Valley PALS have it but our group cannot?

We are at risk of discriminating towards other groups as a result – which doesn’t sit well with our objectives at all.  To say ‘we cannot please everyone’ sounds very flippant – but it is the truth.

We have gone back to our original agreement, looked at what the community asked us to get for them and are just reverting to that nothing more or less.

We have attempted to provide a solution for quiet sessions – sadly it has been, over the years, met with a high amount of aggression towards our members.  We find it very shocking that people are choosing to attack rather than question why.

The reasons for reverting back to the original business case (which led to the funding) is as described.  In addition, as follows:

• We had up until Monday one remaining volunteer who was available to support with the quiet sessions.  They were met with a massive amount of abuse both online and to their person.  They – understandably so – are no longer able to help.  The conversation with PALS was about how people were being asked to leave and it started the debate.

• We have received a high volume of complaints about the quiet sessions, everything from being spoken to rudely, stating how unfair it is that PALS are allowed while others are not etc. 

• Members of the community – from all backgrounds and abilities have commented and complained about the splashpad being closed for other groups when they show up – despite it being reported on Facebook.

FOAP is a very small group of people from different backgrounds with different circumstances.  We are people that have fought hard, raised money, handled abuse, threats and aggression to provide this facility to everyone for as long as we can and for the maximum amount of people we can. 

The reactions on social media are of great cause for concern considering the above, as the group has worked tirelessly to help the community – and at no point has not considered everyone, from every background and all walks of life. 

We are not able – based on advice – going to be responding to any posts regarding this further on Facebook. or any other social media platform.

Finally and most importantly – The Splashpad is open to everyone, there are quiet times on the pad and busy ones.  It is open, it is free and it is accessible.  We truly hope everyone gets to enjoy this community facility, including the children in Cynon Valley PALS. 

We appreciate that some people on the autistic spectrum find busy or loud environments challenging and overwhelming – it goes without saying.  We want to help everyone and we hope that the facility still does that and provides the whole community an opportunity to enjoy waterplay.

Thank you

Trustees of Friends of Aberdare Park (FOAP)

Image visit Rhondda Cynon Taf

We refer to your Freedom of Information Request in respect of the National Lido of Wales.

The Council’s response is set out below:

1       The National Lido of Wales within Rhondda Cynon Taf has three swimming pools; please can you provide the amount of funding RCTC provides to heat the three pools for the year 2021?

£120,302

2       What was the total cost of funding provided by RCTC for The National Lido of Wales for the year 2021?

£379,499

3       Has The National Lido of Wales received additional funding from sources other than from RCTC for the year 2021 if The National Lido of Wales has received funding from other resources please can you supply a list of who subscribes?

No additional funding sources.

4       The following events held at The National Lido of Wales were publicised on your website, please can you provide the individual cost of heating the three pools for (A) the Boxing Day Swimming section and (B) the New Year Day section? And the total cost of opening The National Lido of Wales for each individual day?

Heating Costs – It is impossible to provide exact figures as there are many variable factors such as the external air temperatures specifically during period of heating the pool for the events and likewise the actual costs of utilities at that time etc, however costs are projected on 8 days in total of heating required for the Christmas events to enable the pool to achieve the operational temperatures required, and on that basis utility costs are projected at £1242.31 per event

Total cost per event £178 =  (£3225 staffing + £1242 Utilities + £211 Other/Chemicals/cleaning – less £4500 income)    

5       The 2021 season was an incredible success for the Lido, with over 98,500 visitors. What profit was made from The National Lido of Wales for the RCT Council for the year 2021?

The National Lido is a subsidised facility which does not make a profit. In 2022 it has catered for over 112,000 users, including providing free access to 31,545 children under 16yrs.

6       With rising costs in inflation and the escalating cost of energy the predicted shortfall of funding by the leader of the council, what will the authority do to cut down the cost of running The National Lido of Wales will there be (A) Boxing Day Swimming section (B) New Year Day section this year or keep open The National Lido of Wales with unheated pools?

The Council are committed to providing the Christmas and New year’s day swims for 2022 as previously advertised and as indicated above, the subsidy for these specific special events amount to circa £178 per day.

However, in light of the global costs effecting utilities, all aspects of the future operation are currently being reviewed in respect of the 2023 operations, and proposals will be made in due course and considered by the Council’s Senior Management Team, following which the outcomes will be published.

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Team @ AberdareOnline

Team @ AberdareOnline

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