Posted: Thu 7th Dec 2023

Public Consultation on Future of Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre Questioned as Council Leader Calls it “Insanity”

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Dec 7th, 2023

A public consultation on the future of Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre has been called into question, after Caerphilly Council’s leader said it would be “insanity” to keep the site open.
Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Mann said the ongoing consultation would be “no more than a tick box exercise” if the local authority had all but decided to axe the leisure centre.
The council has proposed shutting down the centre for financial reasons.
In a letter to council leader Sean Morgan, following the “insanity” comment, Cllr Mann said he was “undecided whether to congratulate you on being very honest or question you on being very cynical”.
Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre has been closed for sports since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but did serve as one of the health board’s Covid-19 vaccine centres during that time.
Cllr Morgan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the consultation was “not just a simple ballot about whether the centre should be reopened open or not”.
Its results would help the council “mitigate against any negative impact” a permanent closure could have on the community, he added.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer in November, Cllr Morgan said he believed keeping the leisure centre open would be “absolute insanity”.
This is because of a six-figure maintenance backlog – money the leader said would be better spent elsewhere.
Those comments prompted Cllr Mann’s letter to the leader, asking him whether there could be “any valid consultation” with the public “when the leader of the council makes a statement which says keeping the leisure centre open would be ‘absolute insanity’”.
“What validity would any decision by the cabinet have, when it is known that there was no intention to take any notice of the consultation result, regardless of what it says?” Cllr Mann asked.
“Perhaps you can explain where the process goes from here and what, if any, chance there is of you and your cabinet taking a blind bit of notice of the consultation unless it suits you, of course,” he added.
Following Cllr Mann’s letter, Cllr Morgan told the LDRS the consultation was “intended to gather the views of local people about the potential impact of the site remaining closed, as well as gathering other useful information about the use of alternative facilities nearby”.
“Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre is almost 50 years old and has a maintenance backlog of almost half a million pounds,” the council leader added.
“Residents would not thank us for unconsidered spending , and when you look at the huge investment that has been delivered in the nearby area, by adhering to our Sport and Active Recreation Strategy over recent years, it is clear to see that we have plenty of other modern, fit for purpose facilities available, with more planned.”
Cllr Morgan also said the cabinet would give “full and conscientious consideration of the feedback received” from members of the public.
The council’s proposal to shut down Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre has also drawn the ire of local Labour councillor Shane Williams, who told the LDRS previously the move was “disappointing” – and said locals “feel they haven’t been listened to”.
The council said at the time it had made “significant” investment in “modern” leisure services elsewhere in the borough.
Details on the consultation and how to have your say can be found on the council’s website. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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