*Pictured above the meeting which took place on Monday 4th February in the Town Library
FYI Talgarth joined more than 25 people from Talgarth, Bronllys and the wider community to meet with executives from Powys County Council to discuss the current round of proposed cuts to Libraries in Powys as well as the threat to the Mobile Library service.
The 'drop-in' session came as PCC launched a three-month consultation on library provision across ten of the county's smallest branch libraries, including Talgarth and Hay on Wye. Listening intently was long-standing Talgarth Librarian Jan Shivel, who has worked tirelessly to promote the love of books and to raise the profile of the library service in our area.
The Library has survived earlier threats in 2005 and 2006 and has seen a significant upsurge in its use locally since the co-location with Ysgol y Mynydd Du, which opened in February 2018. PCC Cabinet Member for Culture & Libraries, Cllr Rachel Powell, was joined by PCC Head of Leisure and Recreation Stuart Mackintosh and Head Librarian, Kay Thomas in fielding community concerns. Sue Ling of PCC Communications carried out a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats) of the views expressed at the meeting, seen in the image below. This will feed into the consultation process.
As reported last week, Cllr Rachel Powell explained that the Libraries department was required to identify savings of £200, 000 in the coming financial year. The budget situation of PCC has been widely trailed ahead of setting the Council Tax levels for 2019/20 - and everyone is aware of the climate of uncertainty in politics both locally and nationally.
Numerous speakers, including former Talgarth Mayor & veteran campaigner, Cllr Malcolm Dodds, expressed dismay at the renewed threat to the library when costs had been stripped out by co-locating the service with Ysgol y Mynydd Du.
Gwernyfed High School Headteacher, John Williams, also emphasised the importance of having regard to the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) in any decision made by PCC. The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. The provision of a local library, he stressed, was key to meeting these requirements as a "safe place for both young and older people to meet, source reading material and information".
Speaking to FYI Talgarth, Town and County Councillor William Powell, who currently chairs Talgarth Town Council, acknowledged the dire financial climate but said:
'My Group, the Welsh Liberal Democrats & Greens, are currently working up an alternative budget proposal, that would serve to safeguard the library service. Unfortunately, we do not have the numbers to be sure of carrying the day, in the face of the ruling Conservative and Independent administration.
'What is certain, however, is how valued the library service is here in Talgarth. We, as members of the local community, will be doing our utmost to safeguard the library, & the vital community hub it provides, in the time to come.
'I am encouraged by the turnout today - and by the readiness of local people to come forward with commitment and energy to help with the challenges we face.'
The delegation from PCC asked for feedback from those attending, and several exciting and possible solutions to sustain the Library financially and practically were proposed to the panel. What was encouraging was a number of participants showed a keen interest to form a Library Friends Steering Group which could bring together interested parties, who could help secure the future of our Town Library.
Anyone wishing to join the Action Group working alongside the consultation process can contact FYI for more details. Those who were unable to attend the meeting can give feedback via the 3-month consultation process on the Powys County Council Website link below:
Pictured below Cllr Malcolm Dodds raising concerns
Pictured below the SWOT analysis captured at the meeting