A single all-gender "Changing Village" is being planned for Penarth Leisure Centre instead of the existing segregated changing rooms

A single all-gender “Changing Village” is being planned for Penarth Leisure Centre instead of the existing segregated changing rooms

The separate wet changing rooms for Men,  for Women,  and for  “Family / Disabled” use in Penarth Leisure Centre are to be scrapped.

Instead, one – all-embracing –  new unisex “Wet-Side Changing Village”  is to be installed for the use of what the politically-correct Vale of Glamorgan Council calls “any sex” .

An internal council report says the existing wet and dry changing facilities Penarth Leisure Centre are in “a poor condition” and haven’t been upgraded since the centre was first opened.

The area of Penarth Leisure Centre pool where toddlers are taught to swim was cleaned up after the disastrous fire of 2014 - but the changing rooms were not refurbished

The area of Penarth Leisure Centre swimming pool area was cleaned up after the disastrous fire of 2014 – but the changing rooms were not refurbished

The council admits the condition of the changing rooms is so bad that its own surveys have revealed they’re the major reason potential customers aren’t using  the centre – or aren’t returning to it after a first visit.

The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan council admits that it is responsible for replacing and upgrading these facilities . The private company – Parkwood Leisure –  manages the centre on behalf of the council, but it’s only responsible for day-to-day maintenance – not major renovation.

The Penarth Leisure Centre "all sexes" Changing Village may be similar to this one in Bracknell

The Penarth Leisure Centre “all sexes” Changing Village may be similar to this one in Bracknell.

The Vale Council has now drawn up “extensive plans” to replace the existing wet changing facilites at  Penarth Leisure Centre with a new so-called “Wet Side Changing Village” which it says will be “fully compliant with current legislation”.

An internal council report says the  changing rooms will still provide some “segregation opportunities for males and females” but “the majority of provision will be single use cubicles that can be used by any sex.

The “Changing Village” can also be be converted to become  “fully one sex”  for activities like “popular women-only sessions”. Quite how the council will cope with “gender-fluid” customers in such circumstances is not addressed.

There is no reference in the Vale council report to any public consultation having taken place about the change. Elsewhere in the UK there’s been strong opposition to such changes.

Mature lady swimmers protested outside a leisure centre in Leamington where a "Changing Village" was proposed

Mature female swimmers protested outside a leisure centre in Leamington where a similar “Changing Village” was proposed

In Leamington earlier this year ,  mature women who regularly swim together on weekday mornings protested outside their leisure centre when Warwick District Council announced it was going introduce a unisex “Changing Village”. The women opposed the mixed-gender changing facilities, including shared showers which had been planned.

The so-called “Changing Village” concept has been already been installed in some other leisure centres where the idea has been criticised by many swimmers – including some posters on  the influential “Mums-Net” website who have found themselves showering next to naked men . Some leisure centres have found themselves having to draw up a revised code of conduct for customers including the banning of iPhones and cameras .

Installing the new “Changing Village” in Penarth Leisure Centre is going to be a big job. The ventilation system , and drainage will have to be replaced and the whole area will need to be re-tiled and new fixtures and fittings installed, but the Leisure Centre will remain open during the installation work.

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  1. Ann Other says:

    What if you don’t like mixed changing areas, however trendy and lefty they may be? A ridiculous and insulting attempt to force real people into the Procrustean bed of political correctness. If your expectations and attitudes don’t fit the preconceptions of your betters, don’t worry, they’ll chop bits off you until you do fit their view of how you ought to feel.

    • Danny Oakentrode says:

      I think you are the one with preconceptions. There’s nothing ‘trendy and lefty’ about this. It will only suit a small minority of people, and has NOTHING to do with politics.
      Most people are male or female, and not unisex, so it doesn’t suit the majority. If you don’t like the idea, and you actually use the changing facilities, then write to them and let them know.

  2. AK says:

    It’s not a ‘mixed changing area’ – changing villages have been around for decades very successfully.

    You will go into a large lockable cubicle (which means that a family can stay together), and then proceed to a common locker and pre swim shower area. There will be private showers for male and female after your swim.

    The fact that the area will be accessible for staff of either sex will be a bonus and mean it should be easier to keep clean (but I wouldn’t hold your breath about that one!)

  3. David Moorcraft says:

    Again , no consultation ? As an older bloke, if they put this in, I will swim elsewhere !
    Damned Vale Council !

  4. Jeremy says:

    How utterly revolting. If the poor condition of the current changing rooms is said to be ‘the major reason customers aren’t using the centre’, then the ‘Wet side Changing Village’ should put the tin hat on it.

  5. Clive says:

    My experience of the changing rooms is that they just need some proper maintenance, major investment is not required or justified.

  6. Monty Zumar says:

    “Changing villages” are commonplace throughout the UK and are generally very popular because they provide private, individual changing and shower facilities. Their introduction owes nothing to political correctness.

  7. AK says:

    iphones banned ?

    I should be fine with my Samsung then.

    Are they going to collect them at reception ?

    No more photographs of the child’s first swim.

  8. Daviesgirl3 says:

    The current state of the changing rooms is the reason I don’t swim at this leisure centre. Dirty, broken lockers, very run down. I imagine this “village” will be similar to the one in Cardiff Bay. No problem with that. The sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

  9. Mark Foster says:

    The bastards are at it again with their “fully compliant with current legislation” and “popular women-only sessions”, in the best traditions of George Orwell Doublespeak. What they really mean is that women will be banned from swimming in the main pool on Friday night and only allowed into the kids pool if they cover up from head to toe in a burkini, as has happened already in Luton. This is of course contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act but the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner ignores that.

    What are the odds of Alun Michael policing the Sex Discrimination Act here fully compliant with current legislation? Zero.

    Get rid of them once and for all.


    • Monty Zumar says:

      You are a very funny fellow Mr Foster but you should have more concern for your blood pressure. Giving up reading the Daily Mail would be a good start.

    • Peter Church says:

      Yes, these Women and Men only session are just what Mark Foster says, they are segregation based upon a 13th century religious belief forced amongst all of us.
      In northern and central Europe they have either mixed changing rooms or male/female ones where attendants just walk in regardless of sex. Communal showers where people undress and wash correctly and the water doesn’t stink!
      The UK is going back to Victorian times where any form of nudity is considered abhorrent. Get a life people, your bits are all the same as everyone else and no one really cares, except in your only small minds.

      • Woowoo Wizzywoo says:

        Which 13th century religious belief is that, then, Mr. Church?

      • Monty Zumar says:

        Your comment is interesting Mr Church, even though a little confusing. Do I conclude that you are in favour of the proposed changes at the leisure centre or opposed to them?

  10. Dave says:

    That picture of those swimmers in Leamington is the best argument I’ve seen for segregated changing rooms.

  11. Anne Greagsby says:

    The reason for the popularity of mixed changing rooms is simply that they require less staff than separate make/female facilities. AThere has been no consultation and I for one am against this.

  12. Frank Evans says:

    For popular women only sessions, read Muslim only sessions.
    As for changing villages, it’s like changing in a television box.

  13. Steve says:

    Get over yourselves. As pointed out above this makes it easier to keep clean with fewer staff. It also means that when there are sessions with a strong showing of either men or women, rather than one changing area being full and the other with plenty of space, the space can be used more effectively.

    I might have missed something but why does this need consultation? You will still have a place to discretely change, what does it need consultation for?

    I look forward to this coming into force as it appears it’ll be nice and quiet with plenty of people choosing to “swim elsewhere”

  14. ColaniXL says:

    This is no different than what has already been implemented successfully at the Cardiff International Pool, several years ago. Private changing cubicles for individuals and families. I don’t see the issue.

  15. 249ers says:

    As a ‘mature female swimmer’, I am at a loss to understand why this proposal is a problem. Surely this is the system used at the Olympic Pool, where there are rows of cubicles that can be used by men or women, with or without their children. The showers are pool side and people use them in their swimming costumes. No one, male or female is seen walking around naked, all changing is done behind closed doors.
    At present there is a lack of family changing facilities at Cogan Leisure Centre this means when I take my young grandsons swimming with me I change in the ladies area where they are in an open room surrounded by naked women. I do not wish them to go into the male changing room and they are not old enough to change on their own but I still get looks and comments from thtese ladies.
    At the Olympic Pool all we have to remove, in public, is our shoes and there are cubicles of different sizes to suit individuals, families and disabled visitors.

  16. Sarah says:

    I wish there would be a bit of consultation about proposed measures with local people who actually use the leisure centre. When Penarth pool was closed after the fire, I used the facilities at the pool in the bay (also run by Parkwood). I could not bear the ‘all in together’ style of changing rooms and was delighted when Penarth re-opened, even thought the facilities were a lot older, shabbier and in desperate need to an face lift. If this goes ahead, I’ll be disappointed, although appreciate that others may take a different view. Penarth Leisure centre used to have proper family changing rooms complete with showers. Couldn’t these be re-instated for families wishing to change together? I’m not sure raising issues about race or equality law is helpful or relevant. I really don’t believe that this is the motive at all. Far from being a left wing plot, I would guess it is more about right wing profits over people. I think Steve probably has a point when he observes that it can be kept clean ‘with fewer staff’. Steve – I think it needs consultation because a lot of local tax payers money is supporting private enterprise with little public involvement and I’m guessing little public oversight from the Vale. Since Parkwood took over, I have noticed a slow but steady creeping reduction in service – (eg the children’s holiday swimming has been cut from the former 10-3 to a meagre two hours per day, the bare minimum to get WG funding, membership holders now have to pay for squash courts where they didn’t before etc).

    • Colin Davies says:

      This was always going to happen as Parkwood seek to maximise profits, any compromise in service should be reported to the Council who still apparently will hold Parkwood to account.

  17. Concerned Citizen says:

    I too will welcome the change. It is the same as the International Pool and at Ely Pool. It makes more effective use of space and can cater for individuals, couples, families etc without the need for any areas to be overcrowded whilst others are under utilised. And those changing rooms are currently disgusting … improving and modernising is definitely a plus for me. And yes, I do use it … 3 times a week and I am not politically correct.

  18. Chris Shamb says:

    Utter madness!!!!

  19. Paul says:

    They got unisex toilets in St Cyres, so its nothing new, boys on one side, girls on the other. Tho where the undecided go, is anyones guess….

Comments are closed.