A group of Labour councillors will oppose any cuts linked with covering legal costs incurred during the court challenge against closing Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre.
Caerphilly Council leader Dave Poole told Labour colleagues that “high impact” services cuts would be needed to offset legal fees and ongoing site running costs.
But the warning has been met with dismay among some members, with ten councillors writing to the leader expressing concerns that it will cause “further pain” to residents.
The email, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, expresses “huge regret” that the administration has chosen to ‘run up’ solicitors’ fees in their pursuit to close the leisure centre.
“There’s no definitive cost or end date to the legal challenge, so even on economic grounds, this would not seem a viable course of action,” says the email.
“The direction of finance to solicitors fighting to close this leisure centre has not been taken by the Labour group.
“Instead this has been a delegated decision. Signatories of this letter do not agree with further spending cuts to cover the cost of legal action.
“This will mean further pain for our residents.”
Closing Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre is one of several actions being pursued by the cabinet after members approved a controversial sports and active recreation strategy last year.
In June, following a judicial review hearing brought by resident Shane Williams, a High Court judge quashed the closure decision, ruling that the council had not properly considered the effect it would have on disadvantaged people using the facility.
Caerphilly Council is expected to pay half towards the claimant’s court fees, though the total cost to the authority has not been confirmed.
A list of service cuts to cover the funding shortfall is being drawn up by officers, but such proposals will not win the vote of the rebelling Labour councillors.
They said: “We give notice that we cannot vote for further cuts to services later this year to specifically cover the cost of continued legal action in respect of the potential closure of Pontllanfraith leisure centre.
“We ask for your intervention to stop some of our most vulnerable residents being even further affected by austerity measures by agreeing that there will be no additional cuts to services to pay for what we consider to be unwarranted legal fees.”
If the ten councillors were to abstain from any vote, and were supported in their abstention by Plaid Cymru and Independent councillors, the Labour group would be able to narrowly pass a vote through with 39 votes to 34.
Cllr Gez Kirby, chairman of the Labour group, said he was unable to comment on internal party matters but confirmed that Cllr Poole had received the email.