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 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 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.
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.