Posted: Fri 1st Mar 2024

Caerphilly Council Votes to Close Coffi Vista Despite Public Outcry /

Coffi Vista in Caerphilly town centre will shut down after a last-ditch attempt to save it failed.
The cafe was earmarked for closure in Caerphilly Council’s budget proposals for the coming financial year.
The council argued it was effectively subsidising the premises to the tune of £100,000 annually and could not reconcile that spending with the wider need to save millions of pounds.
But critics said Coffi Vista was more than a coffee shop, and provided the community with a much-loved meeting place that helped people struggling with loneliness and social isolation.
Public toilets on the premises will also close, but the art shop Y Galeri in the same building is unaffected by the council’s budget plans, which were voted through at a meeting on Tuesday (February 27).
The issue has proved arguably the most controversial of the budget process, sparking a large protest outside Coffi Vista in January and a petition signed by nearly 3,000 people.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Plaid Cymru councillors criticised the local authority’s leadership for pressing ahead with the controversial closure plan.
Gary Enright, a Plaid representative, attempted an eleventh-hour amendment to the budget which would have diverted £78,000 of funding over to Coffi Vista.
This, he argued, would “reprieve” the business and give its managers another year to come up with a plan for a “viable” future.
Plaid colleague Colin Mann told councillors £78,000 was “quite a small amount” for the local authority to part with and would offer the business “a chance” to survive.
Judith Pritchard, also Plaid, warned that closing public toilets in the town centre was “a silly thing to do”.
But Sean Morgan, the council leader, said the authority had already committed more than £11 million of its reserves to make sure the new budget was balanced, adding that it was more “sustainable” to stop subsidising Coffi Vista and to bring in a private tenant for the premises.
Consultation documents showed a roughly 50/50 split between respondents who backed closing Coffi Vista and those who wanted it to remain open.
The debate over the site came as Plaid criticised the council for its wider investment in Caerphilly town centre, including a new market and the redevelopment of the railway station.
Plaid councillor Greg Ead claimed “the money can be found when there’s the political will for it”.
But Jamie Pritchard, the cabinet member for regeneration, defended the investment and said it had earned public support during consultation events.
Speaking after the meeting, he accused critics of “vociferously” campaigning “against any new development” in the town.
Cllr Enright’s amendment was ultimately unsuccessful, and councillors went on to vote through the original budget measures, including the plan to close Coffi Vista. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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