Thursday, 20 October 2016

Saving Hay Library - Live on Radio Wales!

At work, I'm often the first person to pick up the phone when it rings - and this morning I got a BBC researcher for the Jason Mohammed programme on Radio Wales, who was looking for a view from one of the bookshops on the threat to Hay Library.
So I agreed to speak, and was connected to the programme, where I could hear Fiona Howard, the Mayor, giving an extremely good defence of the library service, and why the Town Council couldn't step up to fund it. I hope I added something useful to what she said - to be honest, I was too nervous to remember what I said (though I think I sounded calm and fairly articulate at the time)!

Meanwhile, Gareth Ratcliffe has been questioning the County Council, and got a reply, which he put up on his Facebook page. Here it is:

"With regard to Hay Library, the intention is to move the library onto the new primary school site when it is built next year, which will reduce the building related costs, and we continue to work with the Schools Service on this. At the same time, we have been having discussions with town councils and others across the county, with a view to creating local partnership arrangements which would fund at least 50% of the controllable running costs of the local library. Two alternatives which we have been exploring are community delivery (where another organisation takes on the running of the local library with our support and 45% grant funding to them over a 5 year period), or a model where the library service continues to run the service as is, with a 50% contribution from a town council or other sources. We remain open to other proposals as well.
As yet, we have been unable to conclude any agreement in Hay, not least because so many of the library customers are from outside of the town, which understandably, makes the town council reluctant to pay for a service for others.
Powys County Council's Cabinet have given us the deadline of 31st October to conclude our discussions over the 2 alternatives outlined above, after which they will be withdrawn. The only option remaining for us then in Hay will be to reduce opening hours in order to make the running costs fit the remaining 50% of the budget from 1st April next. As I am sure you know, Hay Festival have been very generously fundraising for the library for the last 2 years, preventing the 20% reduction in hours which was introduced across all Powys libraries from April 2015, and we are extremely grateful to them for their support, which was agreed for a 2 year period.
This is a basic outline of the current position, and I am very happy to meet with you to discuss further, if that would help."

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