Made in Llandysul

Made in Llandysul

Today I read an article “Made in Ebbw Vale”, written after the announcement that the Welsh Government would not financially back the Circuit of Wales and the writer is saying that this decision is very bad for the Ebbw Vale economy so maybe Ebbw Vale should make artisan things for themselves.

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Cariad Glass, Llandysul

I like this idea and maybe we should be looking at this in Llandysul.  We already have some amazing artisan makers in our community for example artisan glass work, harps, waffles and cheese.

But the basic things such as clothes, shoes, tools, cooking pots, cutlery, they are made elsewhere, mostly the other side of the world.

I believe that it is unsustainable to ship the most basic thing such as a cooking pot from the other side of the planet.  We need to start manufacturing again, even on the most small, basic, local level so that at best we keep our current lifestyles and, at worst, we survive as climate changes and not in our favour.

we need to learn practical skills, how to make things and how to fix things

To do this, we need to learn practical skills, how to make things and how to fix things.  Not everyone is a practical person but some of us will be very good at making and fixing and they will be the ones who will become the manufacturers of our community and we need them.  As a community will need to be able to look after ourselves.  There will always be a need to buy in some goods but we should be able to manufacture the most basic of things.  It’s pathetic that we can’t and that we don’t try.

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Llandysul Library – Where are we?

****UPDATE on 20/01/16*****

There’s a special meeting of the Special Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny
Committee
 at 9.30am on Friday the 22/1/16.

Come along to support Llandysul library and listen to the discussion in the Council chamber at Ceredigion County Offices, Penmorfa, Aberaeron, SA46 0PA.

Links to:
Agenda
Report

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Here is where I think that we are in the fight to keep Llandysul Library open.

This is all my own opinion. There is no committee running this campaign, just the good will of the community.  Other people will have different views.

Petition

On Tuesday 12 January at the protest before the Council meeting at the Penmorfa Offices a group of us handed in a petition of over 600 names to the Council Leader  Ellen ap Gwynn .  The petition had been signed by people from near and far on the internet via Change.org and in the shops in and around Llandysul.  It was a valiant turn out as the weather was atrocious. This was reported the next day in the Cambrian News.

Image from the Cambiran News

http://cambrian-news.co.uk/article.cfm?id=101602&headline=Petition%20handed%20over%20in%20last-ditch%20bid%20to%20save%20library&sectionIs=news&searchyear=current

Consultation

The Council’s consultation closed  on Monday 4th January.  Just to remind you, these are the option which Ceredigion County Council gave the residents of Ceredigion.

  1. the closure of Llandysul library and reduction of the mobile library fleet by axeing one large and one small vehicle;
  2. the closure of Llandysul and one of either Aberaeron, Cardigan or Lampeter libraries;

Although they have not had time to collate the consultation yet, the Tivyside has reported that in the meeting on the 12th January Councillor Dafydd Edwards mentioned some of the early results.

“Out of just over 400 responses, just 42 favoured option 1 and 90 favoured option 2 while 319 disagreed with the options.”

It will be interesting to see the full results of the Consultation and will it be ignored or will they listen to the residents of Ceredigion?

Meeting

I’ve also been to a meeting arranged by Councillor Peter Evans which involved Mr Arwyn Morgan Head of of ICT and Customer  and Mr Gareth Griffiths the Library Service Manager.  This was a small meeting. Mr Morgan and Mr Griffiths are employees of the Council not elected officials.  I wanted to listen to them and see if I could understand their figures. But they failed to bring the exact figures to run the building with them, they said that they would send them on – still waiting. I still only know what we were been told at the beginning that it costs £25,398 to run the building including the rates which are £5,543 and that excludes the wages. No breakdown.

Mr Morgan was determined that the building would be closing even telling us that Dysgu Bro would be leaving at the end of March even though the decision to close the library has not been taken.

He was not willing to consider cutting hours. He was not willing to move librarians around the county to facilitate this. His only concern was to close the library and the cash office then the costs of running those services would no longer show on his department’s accounts. The building would be ‘empty’ and it would then be handled by the Estates department.

What does that mean?  Will the building be empty?

Well, as we know the Council leases the building from the Church and the council have to keep the building in good repair. The Church has a hall there which they use regularly and that is included in the lease. The Police rent a section of the building for £1,800 which includes heating and electricity. So, Estates will still have to pay oil, electricity, insurance, interior and exterior maintenance costs and rates.

So what will the overall savings to the Council be by closing the library and cash office?
Answers on a postcard please, addressed to the head of Estates, who is about to get a new set of bills on their 2016-2017 ledger.

It all sounds a bit like juggling to me.

Mr Morgan said that a group of volunteers could run the library. He charges the volunteer run library at New Quay £1,280 per annum for using the Council library service, including the software licence and the broadband.  He said that we could keep the computers in the library and the shelves.  He also said that the library does not have to be in that building. Anyone got space for the library in their building in Llandysul – hopefully at zero rent?

Another option which he offered was that if the Community pays the service costs the library service pays 50% of the staffing costs. I wasn’t sure that I understood this option very well. But it sounds very expensive to me. Probably looking at an annual cost of £30,000 to £40,000 for the status quo. Any philanthropic millionaires out there?

Mr Morgan said that the timetable now is that the Council will discuss the Consultation and Llandysul Library in February.  If they vote in favour of closing the library Councillor Peter Evans could ‘call it in’ (which I think means that the department involved have to review their recommendation). Mr Morgan said that he expected Councillor Evans to call in the decision and then went on to say that he expected/hoped that in March the vote to go in favour of closing the library. At which point he has to give staff 90 days notice and then he can close the library – probably mid-June.

I’m just going to repeat part of that:

Mr Morgan said that he expected Councillor Evans to call in the decision and then went on to say that he expected  / hoped that in March the vote to go in favour of closing the library.

The reason why I’ve typed expected  /  hoped in bold is that I cannot remember exactly what he said.  But, what I think he meant was and I’m sorry if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick is that to him there is only one outcome and that is to close the library and cash office and get them off his accounts so that he can show that his department has made the required savings.  As much as Councillor Evans and many other Councillors will object to the closing of the library they are at the mercy of their accountants and the savage cuts which are being made.

To me, it also shows that whatever the calling in procedure is, it is not going to be an independent assessment of the situation. It will look at the numbers and that’s it. It will not consider the impact on communities who use the services.  Will there be an Equality Impact Assessment?

Democracy is dead, long live the accountants and bankers!

People are asking me where are we with the library? I think we’re up the Teifi in our coracle without a paddle. I am at loss as to where we go from here but…

Ymlaen â ni! 

National Libraries day 2016

On the up side and I have to think that there is something which we can do, even if it’s being a mosquito which keeps biting:

it’s National Libraries Day on Saturday 6th February.

We should celebrate our library and the building it’s in – whilst we can.

www.nationallibrariesday.org.uk

What can we do?

Story telling corner? Poetry reading?

The idea of National Libraries Day is to get more people to join the library and use it.  It’s never too late and it would help show that people do want Llandysul Library to remain open.

Can you help me do this? 

Please contact me via email hanesllandysul@gmail.com.

 

Closing Llandysul Library building

Last night, Monday 30th November 2015, there was a public meeting at Tysul Hall about the proposed closure of Llandysul Library. Present  from Ceredigion County Councill were the Llandysul Councillor Peter Evans and Councillor Dafydd Edwards who is a member of the Cabinet and responsible for Financial Services, Information Technology and Customer Services, Housing and Planning.

Over 100 people attended the meeting, with members of Llandysul Community Council and the AM Elin Jones in the audience.  We thought that we were there to discuss the closure of the library but, it turns out that we were discussing the closure of the whole building which includes the adult eduction room Dysgu Bro where computer and Welsh classes are held, the closure of the Local History Society’s display area the closure of the council payment office and of course the closure of the Library.

These are my notes from the evening, not minutes. So they may not be completely accurate but it will give you a taste of what was discussed.

IMAG0978IMAG0972The building is owned by the Church who have leased it to Ceredigion County Council for 125 years.

The County Council:

  • pay a ‘peppercorn’ rent, that is zero – on the condition that they maintain the building.
  • The Church has its own hall at the back of the building.
  • The lease does not allow any commercial activity in the building only community activity.
  • There is a small extension to the building which is rented by the Police. This is also under scrutiny by the Police Commissioner but not a part of this discussion.

We were not given exact figures but the cost of running the whole building was said to be about £40,000 – consisting of £15,000 wages and miscellaneous costs, and £25,000 business rates – the business rates being 167% of the actual costs of running the service which is a ludicrous situation.

Questions and comments from the floor:

Q: Why not use the new school library?

A: If it were possible it would only be in the evening.  We have to consider the security of the children.

Q: In Cardigan the owner of the building where the library is situated has said he would not charge rent for 5 years. Will that help Llandysul?

A: It’s made the situation worse.  The Library in Cardigan needs to go to a smaller space in a council owned property so that there is less business rates to pay and not rent.

Q: Have the council considered cutting hours in all the libraries?

Q: Why is Llandysul consistently being singled out for cuts?

No clear answers here.  Every town is having cuts. The council have to cut 20% from all services and this was being applied evenly over all services. So why not cut every library evenly by 20% rather than singling some out to be removed? This would mean Llandysul would have to find £8,000 savings. If the business rates can’t be changed, the only costs that can be cut are the £15,000 wages and miscellaneous i.e. 53% of these costs.

Q: Has the Council negotiated to reduce the Business Rates for the library?

No. Why not? There would be no rates payable if it was run as a charity by volunteers on the same basis at it is being run now, so why does the Council have to pay more than annual running costs (£15,000) in rates (£24,000)? Elin Jones, AM was there and she was asked to raise the matter with Welsh Government to change the law so that libraries do not have to pay business rates.

Q: Could the university libraries and private libraries in Aberystwyth and Lampeter be used by the public instead?

A: The university in Lampeter was approached but the talks came to nothing.  We were then able to get a grant to do the necessary work on the existing library in Lampeter.

Comment from the floor: So now that library has to stay open for at least 5 years or else you would have to pay back the grant.

A: Correct.

The meeting continued like this for about 1.5 hours.

The bottom line was that the Council would help the community to form a group to run the building.  The group would have to become a charity then they would not have to pay business rates. The same group, or maybe another group could become volunteer librarians and run the library using the Ceredigion Library Services, as has happened in New Quay.

Comment from the floor:  The Church would need to be consulted and the lease should remain with the Council, meaning they would still need to maintain the building.

IMAG0971

What can we do?

Fill in the Council Consultation available online and copies in the library.  The closing date for feedback is 5pm on the 4th of January 2016.
Please note, the Consultation really does give two options both of which say Close Llandysul Library. We need to show them that there is a third option.

Sign the Petition – in the shops in Llandysul and online.

Write to your Representatives – Community Council; Ceredigion County Councillors, Carmarthenshire County Councillors and  your AM and your MP. Write to your representative even if you live outside of Llandysul or indeed Ceredigion.

Finally, we, as a community need to prepare ourselves for the closure of the library building and all its services. However there is an opportunity for volunteers to step in and take on the challenge. 

Would you help form a charity and run a community building?

Would you help in the library?  Be a librarian?

Are you good with finances?  Could you be the Treasurer?

Can you fundraise?

IF so, contact Councillor Peter Evans:
peter.evans3@ceredigion.gov.uk