Will We Get the Go Ahead!?!
The City and County of Swansea’s External Funding Panel was due to meet on 11th September – this was an important meeting for us, as we were hoping for the final go-ahead to rebuild Pennard Library…
The meeting never took place due to a cabinet reshuffle.
Since then, Friends of Pennard Library has been emailing, phoning and trying to speak with the new leader, Rob Stewart, and the new Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Robert Francis-Davies – in order to obtain this increasingly elusive “go-ahead”.
For us time was running out – as the longer matters were delayed, the greater the threat became that we might lose the £118,000 CyMAL (Welsh Government) grant. This would be a blow for Swansea as a whole as the loss of this grant would jeopardise any future grants from CyMAL. We emailed all cabinet members, making them aware of the urgency of the situation.
On Wednesday 8th October, we received some shocking news from Tracy McNulty, the new head of Swansea Cultural Services. She said: “…the new Cabinet members do not feel able to give us the go ahead for a continued library service in Pennard… the ongoing costs to the Council, for the service/provision of a professional librarian and library functions – tied in for a period of five years due to the CyMAL [Welsh Government] grant criteria – is not able to be supported.” (It is a stipulation of CyMAL grants that a service is retained for 5 years. The City and County of Swansea was well aware of this stipulation before it applied for the grant.)
As you can imagine, we were flabbergasted by this, as we were promised by the former cabinet member, Nick Bradley, that if the library building were to be made good, then the librarian-led service would remain. FoPL has spent hundreds of hours in the last 10 months working with the LA to obtain grant-funding for this to happen – and we have been successful. Indeed, it was felt that with the monies pledged that it would make better economic sense to rebuild the library – and planning permission for the rebuild was obtained on 1st September 2014.
FoPL has now also produced a robust business case, which shows that the library can become self-sustaining in the long term, due to monies raised from a cafe and the hiring out of community space (an IT area and an exhibition room).
Some Good News
We have finally been able to arrange a meeting with Councillor Francis-Davies, and he has promised that he will not reject the CyMAL grant without a full consultation and thorough consideration of our business plan. So all is not lost, and the fight to save our library is by no means over.
In addition, Peter Black, AM, has written to the new leader, demanding that he honours promises made to our community that our library would not close, and the cherished librarian-led service would remain. See his post for more details: http://www.peterblack.net/assembly_member_demands_that_swansea_council_honours_it_promises_on_pennard_library