Posted: Thu 25th Jan 2024

Caerphilly Council Faces Backlash over Plan to Close Coffi Vista

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

Caerphilly Council has come under further fire over a cost-cutting plan to close down Coffi Vista.
Critics of the proposal argue the council-run premises is “not just a coffee shop” but serves as Caerphilly town’s tourist information centre and a social hub for people who might otherwise be feeling isolated.
The building’s art gallery shop and public toilets could also close down if the budget proposal – currently out for consultation – is approved in February.
At a joint scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday January 23, Plaid Cymru group leader Lindsay Whittle led calls to save Coffi Vista.
He said he was “not just fighting for a coffee shop”, explaining that the site was also home to a gallery “which helps local artists”, as well as “needed” public toilets.
Fellow Plaid councillor Greg Ead, whose petition to save Coffi Vista has so far attracted more than 2,000 signatures, noted the proposed closure was only part of a “massive” budget but said he had “never seen such an upswell of public opinion over the closure of a council facility”.
The petition and a recent demonstration outside Coffi Vista showed the strength of public opinion, Cllr Ead said, adding that it “clearly isn’t a political issue”.
Cllr Whittle urged the local authority’s leadership to “listen to the community”.
Judith Pritchard, also Plaid, said Coffi Vista played an important social role and had once been a “chatting cafe” where people with “loneliness and social isolation” received a “warm welcome”.
Labour councillor Anne Broughton-Pettit also said Coffi Vista was “not just a coffee shop”, and its staff were “more like social workers”.
She suggested the council could offer the business more support to come up with plans to increase its income.
Council leader Sean Morgan, who was attending the committee meeting, told members the council wanted to hear the public’s views, but ruled out a separate consultation on the future of Coffi Vista.
He told councillors to “remember a consultation is not a referendum” on an issue, and said keeping Coffi Vista open would “cost the taxpayer £100,000 a year”.
He explained that he believed the Coffi Vista premises should be rented out to the private sector, to make income for the council.
Cllr Morgan asked Cllr Whittle whether residents in other parts of the county borough would accept him “demanding a subsidy” for a building in Caerphilly town.
The council was facing “an extremely tight budget”, the leader added.
Responding to appeals to “listen to the community”, Cllr Morgan said: “What we will tell residents [is]… the truth about a situation, and not tell them what they want to hear.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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