Rhondda Library closure REVERSED as Rhondda Cynon Taf Council backs down from legal battle

10 June 2014

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has asked campaigners to withdraw its judicial review case to reverse the closure of Rhydyfelin library as it backs down from the legal battle.

Following a hearing at Newport Crown Court last week, where a decision was made to approve the campaign group’s appeal for a judicial review, a full hearing was scheduled to take place on 18th June.

Now in a U-turn decision, RCT council plans to reopen the library on the same basis as it was open before it closed at the end of May.

Sian Perkins, one of hundreds of local residents campaigning to save Rhydyfelin library, said of the victory: “We are truly elated. This victory is down to the power of the people. The whole community was committed to fighting to save this very necessary establishment and we weren’t prepared to back down.

“Rhydyfelin library is a vital component of our community used by everyone from pre-school children to pensioners. We are grateful to our solicitor Michael Imperato of Watkins and Gunn Solicitors for all that he has done on this case and we look forward to the library reopening.”

The Rhydyfelin Library Support Group launched legal proceedings against RCT council after it made a last minute decision to close Rhydyfelin Library, instead of Pontyclun.

Since then, local residents have rallied together to try and save the library forming a support group and seeking legal advice from one of Wales’ leading experts in Administrative & Public law, Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.

On the council’s decision to back down from the case, solicitor Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, said: “I’m very pleased for the campaign group and the people of Rhydyfelin. Their passion and commitment to the cause was really evident last week when a large contingent from the campaign group came to the court hearing. It brought home just how much they value their local library.

“Public libraries provide a vital service to a local community. In the age of the internet, it is easy to assume everyone has access to a wealth of free information.  The reality is that there are millions of people in this country who are not connected to the internet.  For those people, the library is the only resource they have.  For parents of young children, the library plays an important role in supporting their development and improving their literacy skills.  For the elderly it is a vital lifeline to ensure they are not excluded from society.

“I’m delighted to be able to deliver their library back to them.”

Rhydyfelin library was one of 14 libraries closed by the council in a bid to reduce a £70m funding gap over the next four years.

Initially Rhydyfelin library was not one of the 14 earmarked so local residents did not respond to the council’s four-week consultation period. But in a last-minute alteration, the decision was made at a cabinet meeting on the 8th January to save Pontyclun library instead of Rhydyfelin to provide a ‘better geographical spread’.

 

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Celia Murphy says:

Where does this leave Maerdy Library,we have fought to save it but didn’t,t have the luxury of a solicitor to help us.We really need a library,we are a deprived community and the children used the computers to do their homework,if Rhydyfelin can keep their library why not Maerdy .

Sadye Baker says:

Hi Celia,

if you’d like more information on the case you can contact the Newport office of Watkins and Gunn solicitors on 01633 262122 and they can shed a light on how they got involved.

Thanks for taking the time to check out our website, we really appreciate your comments.

Sadye,
Deputy Editor

The residents of Rhydyfelin formed the Rhydyfelin Library Support Group and campaigned by means of sponsored walks, fun days, raffles etc to raise the money we needed to employ a solicitor and seek legal aid. The story is told on the saverhydyfelinlibrary website. If you require any further info RLSG would be happy to advise you.

Kay Warren-Morgan says:

Well done Rhydyfelin. RCT plans to equalise services made no sense of the geographical layout of the area. Shame it may be too late for some libraries. Don’t understand why the Welsh Assembly haven’t stepped in to review the drastic closures!

michael williams says:

Were does this leave tylorstown library then you made a dreadful desicion I think it was used everyday by the public old and young generation better parking facilities and everything I think you need to reconsider

Meurig Parri says:

The Rhydfelen community came together and campaigned hard to save the library. We’ve won the battle but the war is still being fought. RCT Council are still in the process of closing 13 or their 26 public libraries. 50% of the Library Service Budget is being cut.
We will continue to campaign for a higher profile for libraries in Wales. They are not a luxury to be sacrificied if Councils are hard up. They are an essential service just like the rest of local authorities’ essential services.
Through CyMAL, the Welsh Government is doing a study of public library provision in Wales. We are promised that a report with teeth will follow.
We urge everybody with a love of libraries to send evidence to the study. Details are on the CyMAL website, and you have until the 20th June to respond.