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Keep your hands off our libraries, say groups angered by cuts

By Jonny Drury | Welshpool | News | Published:

After Welshpool saw 500 protesters take to the streets on Saturday a number of other councils in Powys are trying to save their library facilities from budget cuts.

The library protest march in Welshpool

The protest march was a last ditch attempt for protestors to save their library from moving in with the museum, as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Now Knighton and Llanidloes have both come out warning Powys County Council to keep their hands off.

On Monday evening over 40 members of the community gathered to brainstorm ideas about how Knighton Community Library can be made safe from any future Powys County Council budget cuts.

Although the proposed cut to funding of 10 rural libraries in Powys has been deferred for this year, it is more than likely that the 2020 budget proposals will include similar, if not greater, cuts to funding.

Annie England, chair of Knighton Library Friends, said: “Our library does so much more than simply lend books and it is essential that we retain paid library staff who have the skills to help local people who need access to community services such as looking for a job, form filling, IT training, welfare applications.

“We would like the library to open for more hours, not fewer so that people who work all day can visit in the evenings. The library is a meeting place for young people and for the elderly.

"It contributes to the wellbeing of the whole community and cannot simply be run by volunteers.”

Councillors in Llanidloes have sent out a similar message.

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Mayor Janet Crisp said: “Leave the little ones alone and have a go at the big ones for a change."

A public meeting last month saw a big turnout and county councillor Gareth Morgan adding: "I think we can’t do nothing then suddenly find it’s under threat again. They’re not promising to keep it open any longer.

“I would like to thank former mayor Phyl Davies for all the efforts and commitment that he put into saving the library; it wasn’t easy, but we achieved it and we’ve got to try and continue to do it.”

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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