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Councillors Consider a New Chapter for Skewen’s Library Service

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Skewen Library could be switched from its current premises in New Road to a bigger location at the community’s Carnegie Hall – allowing Neath Port Talbot Council to continue delivering a library service for the area.

A report to Neath Port Talbot Council’s Education, Skills and Culture Cabinet Board on Thursday (July 4th) says the existing library at New Road is no longer fit for purpose because it is too small to provide the full range of services for a Tier 2 library (ones which are well used in well populated places but not close to a bigger, Tier 1 library).

Also, the report adds, the existing building, which has operated as a library since the mid ‘60s, would need “substantial” financial investment to overcome long term maintenance problems which would impact on its ability to continue as a public library.

At Thursday’s meeting, Cabinet Members are being recommended to authorise the start of negotiations with Coedffranc Town Council over a plan for Neath Port Talbot Council to take an initial five year lease on part of Carnegie Hall for use as a public library for Skewen.

They will also be recommended, if the re-location goes ahead, to declare the New Road library building as “surplus to requirements” so it could be sold or rented out.

A grant of £106,000 has been offered to the Council’s library service from the Welsh Government via its Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD) which would cover the cost of relocating the library and any additional building works.

Match funding of 10% from the Council has already been placed in the library service’s existing 2019/20 IT budget so it could be used to provide improved IT services at the new Carnegie Hall based library.

The Cabinet Board will be told in the report if a formal lease cannot be negotiated, this could impact on the long sustainability of providing a library service for Skewen.

As part of the Council’s budget consultations over the past two years, Skewen Library has been subject to consultation. Public meetings, online surveys and letters from the public have shown people to be in favour of maintaining a library service in the community but there has also been a recognition of the limitations of the existing building.

Councillor Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning said:

“If we can come to an agreement with Coedffranc Town Council over a lease for part of Carnegie Hall it will allow us to continue offering a sustainable library service for the community of Skewen.

“The community has made it clear it very much wants the service and there is an acceptance the current library building, because of its age, size and condition, is limiting the service which can be provided.”