Within weeks of Cardiff’s libraries being apparently ‘reprieved’ we’re concerned to see reports today on WalesOnline that Roath Library is under threat of closure.
While the building has been closed for maintenance for several months, it was always understood that it would be reopened. The council is now proposing closure of the library and a possible sale of the Grade II listed building with a reinvestment of £40,000 in unspecified alternative provision.
Concerned local residents are already mobilising to lobby and protest against the loss of the library from an area of the city which has already lost many of its community facilities.
We asked our local councillors, AMs and MP for their reactions (we’ll add to this as more responses come in):
Jenny Rathbone AM (Labour): “Libraries are an important part of the fabric of local communities. I am working closely with Cardiff Council to find an alternative location for the library service in Adamsdown. Negotiations are at an advanced stage and I hope will be resolved shortly as the Adamsdown community badly needs their library back. I understand that Plasnewydd Community Hall will be hosting library services as well which is great news for people in that area.”
Eluned Parrott AM (Lib Dem): “The proposed closure of Roath Library, only two months after Cardiff’s Labour council announced that our libraries would be safe, is nothing short of a disgrace.
“The fact that Roath Library needs refurbishment was well known when the original voter-friendly announcement was made, yet lo and behold as soon as the votes are counted the decision has been changed.
“Roath Library serves some of the most deprived communities in Cardiff – exactly those communities where our libraries can make a difference and change people’s lives.
“Instead of a saved library, we have a vague promise to spend some money in the community in the future. This is absolutely unacceptable. The council must think again, and deliver a plan to save the library as they promised to the people of Roath and Adamsdown.”
Jo Stevens MP (Labour): “I have spoken to the cabinet member to make it clear that the council must keep its promise of providing a library service for Roath and Adamsdown. I would like to see an immediate provision of a mobile library service to help in the short term due to the library building being closed for health and safety reasons.”
Cllr Nigel Howells (Adamsdown, Lib Dem): “This decision is outrageous and is a massive slap in the face, not only to local residents who campaigned to save their library, but to councillors who accepted the amendment in good faith.
“Adamsdown is one of the most deprived areas of Cardiff and our library is so much more than a place to borrow books. It is used by people seeking work, it is used by the elderly as a place to meet and it is used by parents encouraging their children to read more.
“Our area has been treated really badly by the council over the last few years – we’ve lost our street sweepers, seen council funding withdrawn from the Adamsdown Day Centre and we will soon be losing the STAR Leisure Centre. To lose our library as well will be a devastating blow to our community.”
Cllr Manzoor Ahmed (Adamsdown, Labour): “I am shocked and very disappointed. Adamsdown is one of the most deprived areas in Cardiff. There’s nothing here whatsoever but this library. I think the council is totally wrong and it’s appalling.
“I have fought for the last couple of years that they have planned to close this library. The bottom line is the building was insured, but there has been a lack of maintenance.
“The building was not in a good state of repair and needed some work but that should not be the reason it closes. If the council can give money to the cricket club, why can’t they give funding to this crucial service for the local community?”
A protest has been set up through Facebook to stage a mass read-in on 20 May. They’re calling on supporters to:
1. Please urgently contact Cllr Peter Bradbury, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries to
– Demand an immediate halt to any plan to close Roath Library
– A commitment that Roath Library will be re-opened and stay opened
– Stay open as a council-mangaged and funded library with trained paid staff
Email – Peter.Bradbury@Cardiff.gov.uk
Tweet – @pebradbury
Please let us know of any replies on firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Urgently contact your own local councillor to demand an immediate end to all attacks on our city’s library service. Find their contact here.
3. Send a letter to the South Wales Echo in support of our city’s libraries. Letters should be 250 words and include name, address and phone number (address and phone number will not be published)
4. Invite people to this protest!
You can also download this poster (right click on the image to save) created by Roath business I Loves the ‘Diff to spread the word.