MORE THAN 5,500 people have signed a petition against the potential closure of several leisure centres in Caerphilly county borough.

Facilities in Pontllanfraith, Cefn Fforest, New Tredegar and the Sue Noake Centre in Ystrad Mynach are under threat as Caerphilly council considers introducing its draft sport and recreation strategy.

Plans would see four sites maintained – Caerphilly town, Newbridge, Risca and another in Bargoed or Aberbargoed – with other centres poised to be taken over by schools or closed.

The petition against the closures of Pontllanfraith and Cefn Fforest leisure centres, which had drawn 5,579 signatures, was delivered to a full council meeting by Blackwood councillor Kevin Etheridge.

Cefn Fforest leisure centre, which is one of several facilities facing an uncertain future

The Independent group leader’s calls to keep the centres open has been supported by town and county councillors from all political groups.

READ MORECross party motion calls for Caerphilly leisure service debate

Former Islwyn MPs Lord Kinnock and Lord Touhig, along with the serving MP Chris Evans, also put out a joint statement opposing any leisure centre closures in September.

Upon presenting the petition on Tuesday, Cllr Etheridge invited the Labour cabinet to a protest march planned in Blackwood before cabinet meet to discuss the strategy on November 14.

A motion calling for a full council debate on the strategy is also due to be delivered to a council scrutiny committee later this month.

“I know [cabinet] will be eager to come because they all want to meet Lord Kinnock,” Cllr Etheridge added.

The leader of the council, Councillor Dave Poole, responded: “I hope [Cllr Etheridge] has made the necessary traffic arrangements with our highways department for the protection of motorists, pedestrians and the people that are in his march.”

The meeting heard that the march, which is being organised by Blackwood Town Council, has met with highways officers and has obtained public liability insurance.

Councillor Nigel George, cabinet member for neighbourhood services, had previously said that the council was currently unable to maintain all of its leisure centres “in the current financial climate”