Neath Port Talbot demonstration ahead of critical council vote

Neath Port Talbot UNISON branch

Staff at Neath Port Talbot sports centres and swimming pools have called an urgent demonstration against proposals to outsource council leisure services for a second time.

Neath Port Talbot councillors will vote on the future of leisure services next week.

UNISON has organised a public demonstration tomorrow (Friday 29 October), at 1.30pm on the steps of Neath Port Talbot Civic Centre to persuade councillors that services should be operated directly and not by another private company.

Leisure staff will be joined at the demo by local Senedd members, MPs and concerned members of the public. The trade union will present councillors with a petition by 3,700 residents and a report by independent experts, the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), which concludes the council risks pursuing a flawed tendering process.

UNISON says a proposal to give Neath’s newly built leisure centre to a private company for the next 25 years flouts Welsh government policy. The trade union says it wants to work with the council and Welsh government to ensure every penny given to leisure is money invested for the good of Neath Port Talbot’s community and not removed as private profit.

UNISON says Covid has shown health and wellbeing should be politicians’ number one priority and the union wants the council to bring the services back in-house and set up a joint task force to examine how leisure services can better serve local people.

Mark Fisher, UNISON Neath Port Talbot branch chair, said,

“We want as many local people as possible to join our friendly demonstration on Friday where staff and service users will send a clear message to councillors: Keep our services in-house; do not give our public services to a private contractor. Council taxpayers’ money must not be removed as private profit.

“Our leisure and cultural services should be run only for the local community’s benefit, for their health and fun. Councillors must do right by the people of Neath Port Talbot and vote against giving our swimming pools, sports centres and Gwyn Hall to the private sector.” 

Notes for editors

  • The councillors are due to vote on Tuesday 2 November 2021
  • UNISON organised a ‘Bring Neath Port Talbot’s leisure and cultural services back in-house’ webinar for councillors on Wednesday this week, where they heard from a local leisure centre worker and an independent expert from the Association for Public Service Excellence, as well as UNISON representatives. A recording of UNISON’s webinar including the APSE presentation can be found here.
  • The UNISON commissioned report from APSE says the council should reconsider all options and pause the procurement process to allow the issues identified to be fully analysed by elected councillors.
  • Neath Port Talbot UNISON branch calls on Neath Port Talbot Council to bring leisure services back in-house, after outsourcing it to Celtic Leisure for 20 years.
  • The current contract with Celtic Leisure, was scheduled to end on 31 September 2021 and the council started looking for another provider for the next 25 years, instead of running leisure services itself.
  • UNISON says taxpayers are funding the development of an exciting leisure centre in Neath town centre and the new facilities for Pontardawe, Aberavon and the Gwyn Hall and it wouldn’t be right for the buildings to then be outsourced to the private sector to claim all the profits
  • UNISON is the largest trade union in NPTCBC and Celtic Leisure


  • Mark Fisher, UNISON Neath Port Talbot branch chair, 07971 255 130
  • Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer, 07816 53 83 97