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Critics say spending on Ffos Caerffili market ‘went way above budget’

Ffos Caerffili market in Caerphilly, pictured on its opening day, April 5, 2024 (Pic: LDRS)

OPPOSITION councillors have launched fresh criticism of the Ffos Caerffili market amid reports the project ran over budget.

The new attraction, in Caerphilly town centre, opened in early April after some delays and has been hailed as a success by the Labour-run council.

But Plaid Cymru said figures it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request found the overall cost of the project “was almost £800,000 more than the original estimate”.

Lindsay Whittle, who leads Caerphilly’s Plaid opposition group, said the amount of money spent on the market was “very significant and went way above budget”.

Fellow Plaid councillor Steve Skivens renewed his party’s criticism of the council for its decision to close down the nearby Coffi Vista cafe and invest in the new market, which uses shipping-style containers for its trading units.

“The cost of this scheme still seems a ridiculous amount of money on what could be classified as temporary structures,” Cllr Skivens said.

Both councillors said they hoped Ffos Caerffili would be successful, but Cllr Skivens branded the closure of Coffi Vista a “short-sighted decision”, and said the cafe and market “could have run complementary to each other”.

“Now it seems it is Ffos Caerfilli or bust,” he added.

Cllr Whittle, meanwhile, doubled down on his criticism of the market’s design, a fortnight after Caerphilly Council leader Sean Morgan suggested the Plaid councillor eat “humble pie” following the market’s launch.

“Personally, I would have preferred a permanent market hall building rather than a load of shipping containers out of place next to one of Wales’ most iconic structures,” Cllr Whittle said.

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The figures Plaid obtained also showed the council had spent around £48,000 on marketing and promoting the new market, and another £56,000 on compensation payouts to traders in light of the delayed opening.

Caerphilly Council did not offer a response to the Plaid councillors’ latest claims, but Cllr Morgan said previously Ffos Caerffili had created 50 jobs and the “success of the opening weekend suggests it was appropriate to wait” to open the market.

The council also announced prior to the launch it had effectively recouped £1 million from the project after securing a European grant, which reduced the local authority’s outgoings to £150,000.

Caerphilly Council will be expected to put that £1m towards other parts of the Caerphilly 2035 regeneration project.

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