Monday, 13 June 2016

Too Many Meetings

I'm starting to lose track of them all!
I went to the Library this evening, thinking I was going to a meeting about the new primary school which we're supposed to be getting some day.
However, it was about the future of the Library service itself. I came in about halfway through, straight from work, to find two ladies from Powys Council with one of those boards with sheets of paper to write on - which she was filling up with ideas about how to promote the use of libraries when I came in.
The idea seems to be to have a Friends of Hay Library group, like the one that already exists in Crickhowell. There, they fund extras for the library, such as folding tables that can be used for events, but I think something more would be needed in the way of fund raising to keep the eleven libraries that are under threat in the county to stay open. And it's yet another group for volunteers to run, to prop up Council services. Several people pointed out problems with that - voluntary groups often start off well, but founder in the long term, and what guarantee would a voluntary group have that the County Council weren't going to make further cuts down the line which made it impossible for the Library to stay open - and then blame the community for not rallying round enough?
Another way round the problem, apparently, is some sort of privatisation, such as with the company that now runs some of the leisure facilities in Powys - which I'm not wildly enthusiastic about either.
One of the chaps at the meeting has just moved into the area from Cornwall, and had quite a bit to say about how things are done down there, which was very useful.
The consultation is going on until July 2nd, and the ladies said something about publicising it again so that more people get involved. A decision is due sometime in September, and action would start to be taken next April, in the new financial year. So if Hay residents want a Friends of the Library group - hopefully not with "the usual suspects" on board, but with a cross section of the different sorts of people who use the library - time is quite short to set one up.
Gareth Ratcliffe was there, giving some useful advice, and he said that groups that have varied representatives (like a disabled library user, or someone from the Chamber of Commerce etc) tended to work better. He sits on several committees like that.
Of course, one of the options for the Library is for it to move out of the present building and into the new school - or even into the Council Chambers, which would make it a lot less accessible for disabled users. In those scenarios, the present Library would be sold off - though it's difficult to see what for, as access is so difficult. Another option is to retain the Library where it is now, and add on offices for Dial-a-Ride and other local groups. Or even move the Council there, and get rid of the Council Chambers building. It's all open for negotiation.

I thought there was also a Council meeting tonight, but Gareth told me that wasn't happening. However, he was going straight on to the Bronllys Hospital meeting at the School. He'd already been to the one in Talgarth last week, but wanted to show his support.
I came home, and had a rant to my Young Man about austerity, and cuts, and local people being expected to volunteer to run all sorts of local services for free.

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