CONTENTIOUS plans to close Pontllanfraith leisure centre are set to be considered once again, after a previous decision to shut the facility was blocked by a judge.

A Caerphilly council cabinet decision to close the leisure centre was quashed in the High Court in the summer, on the grounds the authority failed in its equality duty when making the decision.

In the High Court judgement, it was said that the council needed to consider the impact of the closure on vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and disabled.


But a draft report set to be considered by councillors next week, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, once again recommends the closure of the leisure centre.

A new equalities impact assessment carried out by the council says the closure of the leisure centre “will have a negative impact upon older people who may have limited mobility and upon people with disabilities.”

“This is because it will result in longer travel times and distances to alternative facilities depending on point of origin and the extent to which they currently use Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre,” the report says.

“There will also be a negative impact on younger people who do not drive, or have no access to travel by private vehicle.”

However the report says a decision can be “justified and lawful where there is a detrimental consequence for those with protected characteristics that cannot be entirely mitigated.”

It also says the “negative impact” is mitigated by other leisure centres in the borough being “fully accessible.”

The council says closing Pontllanfraith leisure centre would allow it to offer improved facilities at its four other sites, identified in a 10-year strategy for sport and recreation.

The leisure centre costs around £125,000 per year to run, and has become more expensive since the closure of Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School.

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

“There is so much opposition throughout the whole of the community,” Mr Williams said.

Protests are being planned against the proposed closure, with the first to take place outside Caerphilly council offices next Wednesday, October 16, when the report is due to be discussed by councillors.

Pontllanfraith ward councillor Gez Kirby said he will urge the council’s environment and sustainability scrutiny committee to reject the proposed closure.

“We need a fresh start,” councillor Kirby added.

“It’s time Caerphilly council’s leadership started listening to the communities it represents.”

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.  

"We appreciate that there is local opposition to this proposal, but we have a 10-year strategic vision for the delivery of sport and active recreation in the future and we need to start doing things differently.

“A lot of money has been invested in modern, state-of-the-art facilities in the surrounding area to ensure there is adequate alternative provision for users affected by the proposed closure.”

The scrutiny committee will consider the recommended closure next week before cabinet make a final decision which is expected later this month.