UNISON has issued a rallying cry to protect the future of libraries across Neath Port Talbot (NPT) as well as the Cefn Coed museum. Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council is consulting on its 2017/18 budget and the cabinet is thought to be considering where spending can be cut. This Saturday (12 November) at 10am, members of the union will hold a rally outside Baglan Library and it is hoped they will be joined by local MP Stephen Kinnock, Assembly Member David Rees and councillors Peter Richards and Carol Clement Williams.
In January, a UNISON petition signed by over 4,000 residents not to close the Borough’s libraries, was presented to the Council. The trade union’s local branch also assembled a broad coalition of political support of councillors, Assembly Members and MPs from across the parties.
Mark Fisher UNISON Branch Chair said,
“We are sending an SOS to the council to save our libraries and the Cefn Coed museum. We encourage the people of the borough to have their say in the consultation to keep these much needed services open. We know Welsh councils are under severe pressure from savage UK Conservative government funding cuts but our public services are at the heart of community life and must be saved. Our local libraries and the museum are vital assets and provide excellent value for money.
“Libraries engage children of all ages, offering pre-school singing and rhyme sessions, summer reading challenges for older children, and direct support for local schools. Libraries help to combat social exclusion and local residents can access adult education, advice, cultural events and all sorts of other support, including book prescription schemes.
“NPT libraries have already experienced more than their fair share of cuts over the last four years, with funding being cut by over £600,000. Healthy communities need decently funded, professionally run library services and therefore, more library cuts is not a credible option. UNISON’s message to the council is work with us and community groups to maximise use of local libraries and explore how further income could be generated to ensure these much-needed services remain open.”
Photo credit: Natasha Hirst @HirstPhotos