Campaigners remain hopeful that Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre can be saved from closure, despite a legal challenge being rejected by the Supreme Court.
Caerphilly County Borough Council had previously been forced to halt plans to close the centre after a High Court judge ruled it had failed to consider the impact of the closure on vulnerable people.
But a bid to have the council’s entire sport and leisure strategy – which included the proposed closure – as unlawful was dismissed. The council can now resurrect plans to shut the leisure centre.
The legal challenge was led by campaigner Shane Williams, from Blackwood, who attempted to get the council’s sport and leisure strategy heard in the Supreme Court – this was refused “because the application does not raise an arguable point of law”.
However, Mr Williams believes all is not lost and hopes the role the £125,000-a-year leisure centre has played during the coronavirus pandemic might be enough to keep it going.
Mr Williams said: “They denied us permission to have it heard by the Supreme Court.
“We saved the leisure centre from closure when we won at the high court.
“We felt there were grounds for further challenge of the strategy. Our legal action has kept Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre open.
“We have always said how vital the leisure centre is for the community and I think that is proven from its use as a hub during the pandemic.”
During the school summer holidays, the leisure centre hosted “sports hwbs” for children of key workers, while the Welsh Blood Service used it as a blood donation hub earlier this month.
Mr Williams said that if the legal action hadn’t taken place then the leisure centre could have closed before the pandemic and none of this would have happened.
“The pandemic has shown us how useful and important Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre has been,” he said.
“We are hopeful the council will see how valued and important the leisure centre is to the village and the community and look to keep it open going forward.”
Council leader Philippa Marsden, welcomed the judgement and said the decision “validates the council’s approach to deliver an ambitious sport and active recreation strategy”.
Cllr Marsden said: “Whilst we welcome the decision, we also regret the amount of money it has cost the council to defend this case.
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“Our key priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of residents, set against a backdrop of difficult financial constraints and the need to provide modern, fit for purpose leisure facilities to meet our customers’ expectations.
“We currently own and operate ten leisure centres – more than any other local authority in Wales.”
She added: “We also have a fantastic recreation offer in our parks and country parks the length and breadth of the county borough, as well as many grass and 3G pitches that complement our offer and aligns to our strategy – which was recently given the green light by the high court.”
The leisure centre’s 3G football pitch reopened this week, while indoor facilities are expected to open at the end of October or start of November.
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