What’s happening with Pennard Library?

Many thanks to everyone for their continued support in the battle to maintain a library service in Pennard.

The current situation is that Pennard is now on a level footing with all other libraries in Swansea. The Local Authority has now stated:

“we have not decided to close Pennard library, nor to keep it open post March 2015, as we wish to make decisions through the process of reviewing the whole of our library service across the City and County of Swansea.”

The review is expected to be completed at some point in the New Year.

The above statement is an ‘about-turn’ in that the previous cabinet had promised to maintain the librarian service if the library were to be refurbished. Friends of Pennard Library (FoPL) had worked with the Local Authority to secure: £300k in grants and planning permission for a rebuild. A robust business case has also been produced which clearly shows that there is a footfall of c. 3000 visits per week on the library campus (which includes the school, Squiggles, the Community Hall, Doctors’ Surgery and Pharmacy). The new building will house not only the library, but a café, IT space, large exhibition room and a Vernon Watkins archive. These additional facilities will generate enough income to make the library self-sustaining in the long-term. The previous cabinet was about to give its approval for building work to commence – but this approval was never obtained due to the formation of a new cabinet with a different view. This has meant a loss of c. £196k of grant money.

At the Public Meeting held in the Golf Club on 10th November, around 100 community members voted to hold the Local Authority to keep its promises by legal means. In the meantime, FoPL is negotiating with the authority in order to obtain a 125-year peppercorn lease on the library site and seeking to raise grants to rebuild the library independently. So far FoPL has raised c. £2k from subscriptions and donations and gained a £2k grant from the Church Trust Fund. There are also agreements in principle for grants worth £105k from the Pennard Community Charity and the Sustainable Development Fund. We are well on our way to reaching the estimated £350k for the rebuild.

In short, we are confident that there will continue to be a librarian service in Pennard – it’s just taking longer (much longer!) than anticipated for us to achieve this goal!

I would like to thank the Pennard Community Council for its support and the FoPL Committee who have been working tirelessly to save the library. Namely: Carolyn Davies, Jude Davies, Rhian Ferguson, Lynda James, Keith Marsh, Roger Nettleton, Keith Roberts, Arthur Rogers and Will Smith.  Thank you also to our librarians, Joanna Fee and Kate Hemmingway, for the excellent service that they provide for our community.

Sarah Joiner (Chair, FoPL) 25.11.2014

Advertisements

Membership Application

If you haven’t done so already, please become a Friend of FoPL!

FoPL welcomes everyone as we embark on this new venture to sustain the current library service and develop it in exciting new ways.

Becoming a Friend assists us by:

  • Supporting the development of the FoPL Community Hub by contributing a small annual fee which will go towards essential costs such as applying for planning permission, grant applications, administration and advertising costs etc;
  • Demonstrating support from the local community when applying for grants.

Application forms are available from Continue reading

First AGM of “Friends of Pennard Library” will be held on 26 April 2014

Image

FoPL Flyer

Advance notice about the first Annual General Meeting of the “Friends of Pennard Library”, which is being held at Pennard Community Hall on Saturday, 26 April 2014, at 7.30pm.

 

Community Libraries

Libraries throughout the UK have, for the last couple of years, been the main target for Local Councils to attack when seeking ways to save £s from their annual budgets  –  or so it appears to communities up and down the length of the country.

In late 2013, the Gower (South Wales) community of Pennard became very much aware of the above situation when, from completely out of the blue, they heard (via the local newspaper) that our Local Authority (Swansea) had stated that amongst their ‘proposals’ for the 2014/15 financial year, it was their intention to close the much-loved and much-used Pennard Library facility at the end of the 2013/14 financial year; or at least, that was to be the situation, unless………….!

The ‘unless’ part of the Local Authority’s ‘leak’ to the local newspaper, was revealed in the former’s statement that “No decisions have been made.  The proposal for Pennard Library is to transfer it to a community-led volunteer service which would mean the majority of library services currently offered there would continue to be available.” [Source: South Wales Evening Post, 12 December 2013;  Comment made by Councillor Nick Bradley, Swansea City Council’s cabinet member for regeneration)

The main word in the Council’s statement, is the word ‘volunteer‘, and as the community of Pennard has since discovered (from the reading of far too many online webpages devoted to the same subject  –  i.e. local Councils’ closing Libraries  –  all appear to have the same theme) the community will be expected to run their library at their own cost, and with their own (volunteer) staff, otherwise the local Council will shut down the facility!

Although the Pennard community has fought since mid-December 2013 (and as at March 2014, is continuing to fight) against the Local Authority’s proposal re the closure of Pennard Library, and although the initial “Pennard Library Working Group” has, in recent months, evolved into a group under the heading of “Friends of Pennard Library”, the main premise of both the Working Group and the Friends has always been that Pennard Library is not only to be kept open, but to be kept open with its existing staff and with all of its CCoS facilities and arrangement(s) in place, and nothing less than that.

The situation as it currently stands (as at 06 March 2014) is that despite;-

  • Councillor Nick Bradley (see above) having verbally promised on more than one occasion both to individuals and to reporters that Pennard Library will remain open and providing all services with its present staff until the end of 2014, the same Councillor  –  despite his having made a verbal statement that he would put his promise into writing  –  has so far completely failed to keep that promise, and
  • Despite the “Pennard Library Working Group” having requested (in January 2014) Steve Hardman (Head Librarian) of/at City and County of Swansea to make Grant Applications to both CyMAL (in respect of £120,000) and to the Rural Development Fund (in respect of £40,000)  –  both being for the refurbishment of Pennard Library  –  to date, and despite several requests to him,  both the “Pennard Library Working Group” and the “Friends of Pennard Library”have been denied access to all documentation, and thus to what CCoS actually wrote in the said grant applications.
    • N.B.  In respect of the last bullet point, the “Friends of Pennard Library” have recently (03Mar14) received an email from Steve Hardman in which amongst other items, he wrote: “Obviously at this stage we have no idea if the Authority will be successful in relation to the CyMAL bid so maybe it would also be useful to touch on what the Friends thoughts are if we were not successful in obtaining the grants.”  Such comment(s) unfortunately fail to provide much confidence in either the  City and County of Swansea themselves, nor in how they promoted the Grant Applications to CyMAL and the RDF.