24th November 2017 by Emma Balch
Statement from HOWLS Chair: 24 November 2017
POWYS CC TO SELL OFF HAY LIBRARY SITE AND CUT THE LIBRARY SERVICE
For over a year Powys County Councill has blocked every attempt by Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS) to meet with Councillors and provide accurate financial information in order to find a way to keep Hay on Wye library/Llyfrgell Y Gelli Gandryll operating from its current, purpose-built site in the centre of town.
As the deadline of December 2017 draws closer for submission of a business plan it is clear that Powys CC has no intention of honouring their previous decision to consider proposals. Likewise, Powys CC is completely ignoring the views of the local community, who want Hay Library to remain where it is and to develop the service.
Powys CC intend to push ahead with their plans to move Hay Library into a smaller space in the new Hay primary school and sell off the current Library building and green space. Once again Powys CC has run roughshod over the wishes of local people and will deprive Hay of yet another well-loved community facility.
Hay Town Council partnership proposals
HOWLS asked Hay Town Council to consider taking over the running of the Library building, particularly as they already have responsibility for the car park, public toilets, and the Town Council building – all of which generate an income. After discussions with senior Powys CC officers, Hay Town Council decided not to pursue this option.
In an attempt to break the deadlock, HOWLS produced a Library Development Plan to present to Powys CC that would have made the building a self-financing community hub with cafe, offices and meeting space. Hay Town Council was asked if they would form a partnership agreement with HOWLS to help realise this vision. They declined.
By the time HOWLS officers finally got to meet Councillor Rachel Powell, the new Portfolio holder for Libraries and Cllr Phil Davis, Portfolio holder for Properties on 15th November (five months after first requesting a meeting), it was clear that decisions about the future of Hay Library had already been taken.
Had a partnership between HOWLS and Hay Town Council been in place, there might have had a sympathetic hearing from Powys CC, particularly as Cllr Davies explained how Llanidloes Town Council in his home town had financially saved their Library by transferring it into the Town Hall.
Powys CC to strip assets and cut service
The plans to move Hay Library into a smaller space in the new primary school – built with Welsh Government funding – are well advanced. No amount of media razzamatazz about opening a new school, with a library area, will disguise the fact that this is a cut to the library service in Hay-on-Wye. The proposed Hay Library space in the school is smaller, and intended for other uses by the school. Powys CC also plans to half the library opening hours to 12 hours per week.
Selling off the current library site is nothing more than Powys CC asset stripping, with complete disregard for a community they serve, in a desperate attempt to sort out its own financial mess.
Anita Wright, Chair of Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS)
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