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Library shocker for Welshpool

 
Created on 15/09/2018 @ 09:10
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MyWelshpool can reveal that there are plans to move the town’s library in with the museum to allow Powys County Council staff to relocate from Neuadd Maldwyn.

An anonymous reader, calling themselves a whistleblower, asked us to investigate after discovering plans to relocate the library, and in doing so reducing its stock by three-quarters, despite Welshpool being the second busiest library in Powys.

The whistleblower claimed: “This is in order to relocate staff from Neuadd Maldwyn, even though Powys owns Ladywell House, a purpose built office block in Newtown.

“And all this by April next year? So much for public consultation! This library provides so much for the community, you will be surprised and dismayed by what will be lost for the community.”

We took the claims to Powys County Council who admitted that drastic changes are coming but insisted they are “committed to providing sustainable library and museum services in the face of challenging financial times”.

Cllr Rachel Powell, Cabinet Members for Culture, said: “One of the models that we have adopted successfully is to co-locate our libraries into other buildings and with other services. We have done this with great success in a number of towns across the county including Builth Wells, Knighton, Llandrindod Wells and Llanidloes.

“Supplemented by the online library catalogue, which enables our residents to order books from anywhere in the county, and the e-books and other e-resources that are available 24/7 from home, this is transforming how people use libraries and the range of services that they are able to access in one location.

“However, we must continue to review all services and look at ways of making them cost-effective and sustainable. One option that we are currently exploring is co-locating Welshpool Library in Powysland Museum in the town. We will be engaging service users later this autumn about our proposal.”

Cllr Phyl Davies, Cabinet Member for Assets, said: “We have been carrying out a review of county council accommodation across the county. This review has been looking at buildings and office accommodation to assess their suitability for future service delivery.

“The review is also determining if the buildings are fit-for-purpose for both front office and back office functions and whether they support the council’s move towards an ‘agile’ working model.

“Cabinet has agreed to close Neuadd Maldwyn at the earliest opportunity subject to establishing a cost-effective alternative front line location in Welshpool. If an alternative is found, there would be an opportunity for somebody to develop Neuadd Maldwyn, which would benefit the council, the town and the county.”

But it won’t go down well. The library is a popular hub with children’s activities and other community groups regularly using the facility. Powysland Museum has also become established as a vibrant part of the town.

Graham Breeze, County Councillor for the Llanerchyddol Ward, said it was very disappointing that a decision had been made to downgrade the library and museum services in Welshpool.

“I have protested loudly at the proposed downgrading of any services in Welshpool but Powys County Council's cabinet is going ahead with the decision.

“Like nearly all other local authorities, Powys is facing a financial nightmare and struggling to keep essential services running so cuts are inevitable.

“Consultations have been taking place with Welshpool Town Council in a bid to preserve library and museum services in an acceptable format.”

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