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Fight to save Llanfyllin Library

Created on 09/02/2019 @ 14:38
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While the nail will be firmly hammered into Welshpool Library’s coffin this week, another town has started its fight to tell the County Council to keep their hands off their service.

Powys County Council will rubber stamp a decision this week to close Welshpool Library later this year and operate a satellite service inside Powysland Museum.

The move has infuriated the town which has already lost vital playing fields over the last 12 months to make way for a multi-million-pound primary school. Thousands signed a petition but campaigners’ fears that it was a done deal were realised last week when the decision was announced, without so much as a public meeting.

And now Llanfyllin has launched a fight of their own with a packed public meeting not holding back. 

According to The Mayor of Llanfyllin, Cllr Simon Baynes, half of the costs of the Library are paid for by 10 Community Councils in the north of the county and by Llanfyllin Town Council. The Community Councils are Meifod, Penybontfawr, Llanfechain, Llanfihangel, Llangedwyn, Llangyniew, Llangynog, Llanrhaeadr, Llansantffraid and Llanwddyn.

These Councils are part of the North Montgomeryshire Cluster Community Interest Company (CIC) which signed an agreement with Powys County Council on June 4, 2018, to pay for half the Llanfyllin Library costs for five years.

“The Welsh Government and Powys County Council have all praised our local community councils for coming together in a CIC to help provide local services – the first time this has ever happened in Wales,” said Cllr Baynes.

The meeting, and a previous one connected with the library closure issue, were also attended by local County Councillors Peter Lewis, Gwynfor Thomas, Emyr Jones, Jonathan Wilkinson and Bryn Davies, all of whom are campaigning hard to maintain services in the community library.

“This meeting showed how much the library means to all of North Montgomeryshire, not just Llanfyllin, particularly young people, many of whom spoke at the Drop-in session. The Library is used extensively by Llanfyllin High School which adds yet another reason for its protection,” added the Mayor.

Emma Wilde-Hale, solicitor and director of the North Montgomeryshire Cluster CIC, said: 

“In June 2018, the CIC signed a five-year legal agreement with the County Council. Under that agreement any changes must be by mutual agreement and after consultation. It is unfortunate that the Council have chosen not to consult with their partners in the CIC prior to this process being commenced.

“The CIC are committed to ensuring that the County Council fulfils not only its promises but also its legal obligations to the library and the community. If necessary, we will take legal action to ensure the terms of the agreement are fulfilled by Powys County Council.”

County Cllr Peter Lewis said: “Everyone in the north of the county is contributing half the costs of the Library through their community council precept. Llanfyllin Community Library is not just about books but also plays an important part in helping people in the community, such as helping with housing applications, universal credit and other official forms and paperwork. It also has computers which members of the public can use. It is vital we maintain the library service here - it is a Community Library for everyone.”

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