Pontllanfraith leisure centre faces new closure bid

Campaigners outside the court Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Opponents won a High Court challenge in June to block the planned closure

A fresh attempt to close a leisure centre will be made, despite a judge previously blocking the move.

The High Court quashed Caerphilly council's controversial decision to close Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre.

It said council bosses had failed to consider the impact on elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people.

A new report admits there will be a negative impact, but says other leisure centres in the borough are "fully accessible".

The Labour-led authority said the money saved by closing Pontllanfraith - which costs £125,000 a year to run - would allow investment in four other sites.

A draft report to be considered by councillors next week, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, once again recommends closing the leisure centre.

An equalities impact assessment said the closure of the leisure centre "will have a negative impact upon older people who may have limited mobility and upon people with disabilities" by forcing them to travel further to other sites.

Young people would suffer too if they cannot drive or have no car, it added.

Image copyright Caerphilly County Borough Council
Image caption The leisure centre costs £125,000 a year to run

However, the report said a closure decision could be "justified and lawful" even if any "detrimental consequence for those with protected characteristics ... cannot be entirely mitigated".

It also said the "negative impact" was mitigated by other leisure centres in the borough being "fully accessible".

Campaigner Shane Williams, who took the case to the High Court, said closure would result in thousands of people being "denied access to sport and fitness".

"There is so much opposition throughout the whole of the community," he said.

Opponents plan to protest at the council's offices on 16 October when a scrutiny committee will discuss the report.

Gez Kirby, a Labour councillor representing Pontllanfraith, called on his colleagues to reject the closure.

"It's time Caerphilly council's leadership started listening to the communities it represents," he said.

A spokesman for Caerphilly council said: "The recent High Court judgement focused on the need for a detailed Equalities Impact Assessment and we have now taken steps to address this issue."

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