NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 15th NOVEMBER 7PM IN HAY LIBRARY
POWYS RIDES ROUGH-SHOD OVER DEMOCRACY AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY – WHAT NEXT FOR HAY LIBRARY?
After a huge campaign last year to halt the closure of Hay Library, Powys County Council reluctantly agreed to give the local community until 31st December 2017 to come up with “a clear and viable proposal [involving] complete community delivery” if Hay Library is to remain In its current building.
For the past year Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS) have repeatedly requested a meeting with the Councillor responsible for Libraries and asked for accurate financial information about the running costs of the current Library building. Powys Councillors have ignored these requests, making it impossible for HOWLS to develop a fully costed business plan.
It has become increasingly clear that the leadership of Powys Council has no intention of honouring their previous decision or respecting the majority view of the local community, who want the Library to remain where it is and develop the service.
POWYS WANT TO DOWNSIZE HAY LIBRARY AND REDUCE OPENING HOURS
Behind the scenes Powys have been pushing ahead with plans to move Hay Library into a smaller space in the new primary school, funded through the Welsh Assembly, and halve the Library opening hours to 12 hours per week. It’s likely they will sell off the current site, depriving Hay of another community asset in an attempt to help sort out their financial mess. No amount of media razzamatazz about Powys opening a new library in Hay will disguise the fact that this is a cut to the library service.
LAST BID TO SECURE FUNDING
HOWLS doesn’t have enough money to pay the running costs of the current Library building, estimated at £15,000pa so, in a last bid attempt to keep the Library where it is, HOWLS Officers met Hay Town Council last month to see if they would be willing to join HOWLS in a partnership agreement where costs and risks could be shared.
Unfortunately, Hay Town Council (HTC) felt they could not agree to this proposal. They had approached Powys last year to acquire the library building through an asset transfer agreement. Powys rejected this proposal and HTC is concerned that the financial future is even more precarious given Powys’ budget deficit. Although the current Hay Council Offices require significant maintenance, rent from the existing tenants does cover the running costs of the building. Town Councillors doubted this would be the case if they moved into the Library, even if in time the building was extended to provide additional accommodation.
Without another partner, sponsor or benefactor it is impossible for HOWLS to go it alone, and even if one stepped forward Powys is likely to reject the proposal in order to carry on with their money-saving plan.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIBRARY?
It seems more and more likely that HOWLS may be forced to accept the move to the school. It’s not ideal, but it does mean Hay will still have a library service – something that looked in doubt a year ago.
But we shouldn’t accept a smaller Library and reduced opening hours, a view that Hay Town Council shares which is why they said they would support HOWLS in arguing for the area on the school plans presently shown as library (97sqm) and community (53sqm) be designated for sole use as the Library. This would make the Library the same size as the current building (145sqm).
It would also help put pressure on Powys to provide a proper community centre in Hay, something they promised when they pulled down the old one and sold off the site in Oxford Road.
The second issue which HOWLS would need to deal with if the move to the school goes ahead, is Powys’ intention to cut the opening hours to 12hrs per week.
Hay Library is particularly lucky to have the support of Peter Florence and The Hay Festival, who for the last four years have made up the shortfall in funding after the last round of Powys budget cuts, ensuring that the staffing levels have remained the same. Although not able to put money into maintaining the current Library building, Hay Festival has indicated it would continue to contribute to staffing costs if Powys reduces the opening hours after a move to the school.
Powys also seems to think that volunteers will fill this staffing gap. Volunteers can make a valuable contribution to the service and several people regularly help out in the Library, but they are not a substitute for trained and experienced library professionals.
Hay has a growing population and there has been a sharp increase in Library usage so HOWLS will need to fight for the same level of professional staffing .
WEDNESDAY 15th NOVEMBER 7PM IN HAY LIBRARY TO DISCUSS THE NEXT STEPS FOR THE CAMPAIGN
Our mailing address is:
HOWLS – Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters
Hay-on-Wye, POWYS HR3 5BG
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Join the fight to save our library
Hundreds of local residents attended a Public Meeting in Hay-on-Wye on Monday 30th January to show their support for Hay Library.
The library is used extensively not only by the residents of Hay, but also by people living and working in the surrounding villages, including the communities of Gwernyfed, and it’s loss would be heavy to bear for the whole area. HOWLS is seeking support from anyone with an interest in supporting the campaign.
Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS) was officially formalised as a unincorporated association at an open meeting at Hay Library on 6th March 2017 – World Book Day. It now has a constitution, members and a management committee.
The purpose of HOWLS is to defend, support and encourage the delivery and development of a fully-funded, professionally-staffed library service within the local community of Hay-on-Wye, and aims to to promote, encourage and suppport new activities and events to complement and develop the existing library service. It will work in partnership with other community groups and businesses and in consultation with Hay Town Council, Powys Library Service and Powys County Council.
HOWLS will seek to Associate local authorities,voluntary organisations and residents of Hay on Wye and the surrounding area in a common effort to carry out these aims.
Anyone who signs up and agrees to abide by the Constution can be a voting member, and play their part in shaping the future of libary provision in our area. Click here for more information.
More information can be found on the HOWLs website www.savehaylibrary.org