First Minister quizzed over support for tourist centre threatened with closure
Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter
The First Minister faced questions in the Senedd about the future of Caerphilly’s under-threat Coffi Vista tourist centre, following one of the biggest protests in the town for almost 50 years earlier this month.
Delyth Jewell quizzed Mark Drakeford on Caerphilly County Borough Council’s proposal to close the former tourism information centre to help balance its books.
The Plaid Cymru MS, who represents South Wales East, called for support from the Welsh Government to keep the community asset open.
Ms Jewell said: “There’s a very popular centre in the middle of Caerphilly that houses a coffee shop, a gallery and public toilets.
“Coffi Vista is used as a hub by vulnerable groups.
“The man who runs it, Martin, has a special table set aside for people who are lonely so they’ve got somewhere that’s warm and welcoming to sit.
“The future of the centre is under threat because of cuts to local authority budgets.
“Now, I realise that councils are facing difficult circumstances and I wonder what support the Welsh Government can give to councils to ensure that community assets remain open.”
Plaid Cymru’s deputy leader said hundreds of people braced the cold to show how important the centre is to them at a rally held on Saturday January 13.
She told the Senedd: “The town mayor, Mike Prew, said it was the largest demonstration in Caerphilly for almost 50 years, since the Sex Pistols played to the town in 1976.
“So, I’d ask what support could be given to help keep centres like this open and available for the people who rely on them so much.”
During first minister’s questions on Tuesday January 23, Mark Drakeford replied: “I thank Delyth Jewell for that small part of Caerphilly history.”
Prof Drakeford stressed that the Welsh Government has protected the revenue support grant, which funds councils, as part of its 2024-25 budget process.
“On top of that, there are a series of grants that local authorities will receive, and Caerphilly will be a beneficiary of those as well,” said Wales’ first minister.
“Just as we are going through the process here in the Senedd of having our budget scrutinised by different committees, so local authorities have published their budgets.
“They can gauge the reaction of their local populations and see whether the decisions they have made need to be fine-tuned to respond to that local concern.
“In the difficult circumstances Caerphilly council faces – and that’s true of all local authorities – I’m sure it will be listening carefully to the views of its local population.”
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