Taxpayers will not be asked to cover the legal cost of Caerphilly Council’s legal dispute involving the closure of Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre.
Council leader Dave Poole has rowed back on making high-impact cuts to public services to offset solicitors’ fees and the cost of keeping the leisure centre open.
An email to the council’s Labour group warning of the proposals caused concern within its ranks, with ten members prepared to vote against proposals.
The group told the leader that asking members of the public to pay for the council’s “unwarranted” legal fees would cause them “further pain” as the council implements its controversial sport and active recreation strategy.
The email was signed by Alan Collis (Aberbargoed), Christine Forehead (St James), Elaine Forehead (St James), Adrian Hussey (Newbridge), Leeroy Jeremiah (Newbridge), Gary Johnston (Newbridge), Ariana Leonard (Risca East), Phillipa Leonard (Risca East), Jamie Pritchard (Morgan Jones) and Carl Thomas (Crumlin).
Their stance brought praise from the opposition Plaid Cymru group, with leader Cllr Colin Mann saying the Labour councillors had “seen the light”.
And after receiving the letter from his colleagues, Cllr Poole announced that he would not be pursuing his original proposals.
Cllr Poole said: “This is a complex case certainly, but I can confirm that, due to financial underspends in other areas, there will be no further service cuts that are directly linked to the costs associated with the legal situation with Pontllanfraith leisure centre.
“The last thing anyone wants, including myself, is to face any more service cuts than are absolutely necessary.
“Despite our very challenging financial situation, I appreciate and understand the views of those who were so concerned at the prospect.
He added: “That isn’t to say that the financial situation isn’t severe – it is, for councils right across the country and beyond, but I’ve listened and responded, and hope this allays those concerns.”
The group of Labour councillors says it welcomes Cllr Poole’s decision, but would not comment further.