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Hundreds protest over plans to shut tourist centre

13 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Protestors outside Coffi Vista in Caerphilly

An estimated three hundred people staged a demonstration today (13 January) over plans to shut a tourist information centre.

Proposals drawn up by Caerphilly Council to save around £30 million next year could also see the art gallery Y Galeri and the public conveniences close.

Coffi Vista could be closed down, and the building in Caerphilly town centre leased to the private sector and staff redeployed as part of the council’s planned cost-cutting measures.

Staff were told an informal decision had been made by council bosses during a meeting with council officials last week, with the closure expected to be confirmed at a meeting later this month.

Consultation

Councillor Lindsay Whittle, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly Council told protestors: “No one asked us whether we wanted to close this facility. They are saying they are going out to consultation. Consultation is not after a decision is made.”

He criticised the council and the Labour Cabinet for making an informal decision to shut the visitor centre and coffee without any proper democratic discussion. “Shame on the Cabinet,” he declared.

“This demonstration is telling the council that we want to save this much-needed and vital community facility. For everyone that came here today there are five or six more that were unable to make it.”

He said the protest also showed the support for Coffi Vista manager Martin Cook and staff at the shop.

“We intend to take this fight as far as possible,” he declared.

Local asset

Speaking at the rally, Plaid Cymru Members of Senedd for South Wales East, Delyth Jewell and Peredur Owen Griffiths added: “This is the heart of the community. It’s a local asset that has to be saved – but this is more than being about one building, this is about the wider regeneration of Caerphilly town centre and the haphazard way that the council is going about it.

“It’s clear from the numbers that turned up today on such a cold day in the middle of January that people are fiercely proud of their town. The strength of feeling about this matter shows just how much the council has to change their minds and do so with urgency.”

Town Mayor Councillor Mike Prew said: “The protest is the largest in Caerphilly for almost 50 years since the Sex Pistols played in the town in 1976.”

More than 2,000 people have also signed a petition against the planned closure.

Shortfall

A spokesman for Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “The council is facing a budget shortfall of around £55 million over the next two years, so it is clear that we will need to make a number of difficult decisions in order to meet this significant financial challenge.

“A list of proposed budget savings will be announced over the coming weeks and these will be subject to a period of public consultation before the 2024/25 budget is agreed at the end of February.

“The council has a duty to protect the public purse and will be looking at a range of savings options, particularly services that are subject to high subsidy, are non-statutory or can be delivered in a different way.

“We would encourage the community to have their say at the appropriate time.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

On the other side of the page they can list where monies were wasted/badly invested/or otherwise squandered just for balance…

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

I was there a couple of months ago visiting the castle. Due to works, there were no toilets in the castle so had to use these. The gallery was very good and run by a lovely Welsh speaking lady. The cafe looked like a nice place to sit and watch the world go by. I think the building should be saved

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago

Surely tourists are bringing money in to the area.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

Problem with this protest is, now looks like happy for a big council tax rise. The facility is nice, but clearly not used to its potential.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Devastating tory cuts to our infrastructure, nothing in the UK seems to work anymore, not the NHS, police, housing etc while facilities for young people are almost non existent.
While Sunak is travelling the world splashing the cash on foreign wars councils and our infrastructure are being squeezed beyond recognition

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

“Maybe” they asked some people ON LINE what they thought about the centre or had a closed meeting to discuss the dire financial position the council is in, Obviously due to outside forces ‘somebody else’s responsibility’ so strict measures will be taken to rectify the problem caused by enforceable circumstances that were not the responsibility of the council. To rectify the financial shortfall extreme measures will be taken some sort of rise in a form of tax maybe? Or some sort of nonsense gobbledegook like that to appease some of their loyal supporters. Roll on the sennedd election. Just a… Read more »

Susan Tucker
Susan Tucker
1 month ago

O didn’t know there was a demonstration, Shame really as loads more would have gone if we’d known

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