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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 November 2018

Hundreds march to save Blackwood leisure centres

Hundreds march through Blackwood High Street against the closure of local leisure centres, photo Dave Reid

Hundreds march through Blackwood High Street against the closure of local leisure centres, photo Dave Reid   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

The council has underestimated working-class determination.

Hundreds of people from Blackwood and Pontllanfraith marched to keep open their local leisure centre and swimming pool. Labour-controlled Caerphilly Council wants to close Pontllanfraith leisure centre and Cefn Fforest swimming pool to 'rationalise' leisure facilities.

Twice attempts to close the centre have been beaten off by a determined campaign. But now the council has come back with new proposals to close the centres and build houses on the land.

This is about more than stopping cuts - it's about preventing developers moving into bulldoze community facilities on what they see as prime land. Campaigners knew they'd need to raise the stakes and called a march which the council tried to block by requiring public liability insurance.

Campaigners refused to back down. They worked hard to publicise the march.

Despite short notice - and the fact that few had yet heard about the council's plans - over 200 local people turned out.

Home-made placards rode high behind the Pengam youth football club carrying the banner. Marchers ignored threats from the council and flowed onto Blackwood High Street, chanting and blowing whistles.

Significantly, Corbyn supporters had been to the fore in forcing the Labour council to back down before. This time they won the backing of Islwyn Constituency Labour Party for the march.

Contingents from Caerphilly Trades Council and the Unite Wales Young Members Executive also took part.

The determination of campaigners was shown by a succession of fighting speeches. Socialist Party member Mariam Kamish, secretary of Caerphilly Trades Council, got the biggest round of applause when she said: "This campaign is here to help councillors out - before they find themselves down the job centre."

"We're here to give them one of their own-style 'performance reviews'" she said to applause.

A surprising cameo appearance was made by former Labour leader and anti-Corbyn politician Neil Kinnock, in a rare visit to his old constituency. The crowd heard him politely but he received a mixed reception and remained incognito for most of the event.

As one campaigner put it: "Kinnock, Touhig and a few other undesirables rolled up, but my goodness, Kinnock left with several fleas in his ear".

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In The Socialist 7 November 2018:


International socialist news and analysis

Worldwide walkout at Google against sexual harassment

Pittsburgh Synagogue shootings: Unite to fight anti-Semitism and far right

Mexico: The movement of 68 and the massacre of Tlatelolco

CWI news in brief


Opinion

Nae Pasaran: a film about working-class solidarity

The Socialist inbox


What we think

Tories out - we need socialism!


News

Labour councils should use 14bn reserves to fight all cuts

University bankruptcy threat - kick the market out of education

Stand up against abuse - justice not racism

Care crisis cashing in


Workplace news

PCS Left Unity: Back Chris Baugh and Marion Lloyd for a fighting, democratic, lay-led union

Arriva Rail North strike hits 34 days of action

Cable workers' Halloween picket line attempts to 'scare' management into talks

Royal Bolton Hospital: Another victory against NHS privatisation

Occupy and demand nationalisation to save Devon shipyard

Unison HE ballot: Anti-union rules block action

Bradford uni strike


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Hundreds march to save Blackwood leisure centres

Crowds turn out for Corbyn in Rugby

Thousands march against overnight closure of Shropshire A&E

Protesters drive far right out of Liverpool

Unions and campaigners challenge Southampton cuts inside Labour and out

Support the Socialist alternative, subscribe to the Socialist

East London public square threat halted


 

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