FoPL met, earlier this evening (16th October, 14), with Councillor Robert Francis-Davies, Councillor Mark Child and Local Authority officers regarding the new cabinet members’ decision to withdraw the library service from Pennard in April 2015. The CyMAL grant of £118k, which would have contributed to the rebuilding of the library, comes with the stipulation that the Local Authority must provide the current librarian service for five years. Despite knowing of this stipulation when the grant was applied for, the new cabinet – in the face of further cuts – does not feel able to support the service financially for a further five years.
At the meeting we made the following points:
1. It is unlawful to close Pennard Library due to the statutory WPLS (Welsh Public Library Service) stipulations that we must be in 10 minutes travel time on public transport to the next static library;
2. Closing the library will also be in breach of Section 149 of The Equality Act 2010 which states that the council must have “due regard” to eliminate discrimination and advance the equality of opportunity of various groups;
3. The new cabinet should honour the promises made by the former cabinet, in writing, to the people of Gower;
4. Proper procedure appears not to have been followed in this decision to withdraw the library service: a) the decision appears not to have been agreed by Cabinet – or full council; b) there has not been the necessary public consultation re. the new decision to close the library etc.
5. If the library is closed, the matter will go to a judicial review.
The outcome of the meeting was that Councillor Francis Davies and Steve Hardman (Head of library Services) will contact CyMAL tomorrow to see if either a) they would be prepared to lift the five year stipulation or b) they would be prepared to allow another group to underwrite the costs of the librarians wages.
We will have an answer on these points by Monday. We then plan to call a public meeting to discuss how the community wants to move forward on this.
In the meantime, does anyone know a good barrister or judge who would voluntarily give us some legal advice?
Diolch i chi gyd am eich cefnogaeth barhaus,
A weary – but not despairing – FoPL