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Badger knows best

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IT’S NICE TO HAVE A HOBBY!

Like all keen collectors there is nothing that beats the sensation of having a complete set of something. Philatelists will tell you that they can’t stand having a gap where they know a purple sixpenny one with an inverted watermark should be.

And so it is with Pembrokeshire County Council.

It’s not enough having Morrison’s, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, and M&S. What the town of Haverfordwest needs – at least as far as the Council is concerned – is a Sainsbury’s. So, like all completitists with a gap in their album, they have invested a great deal of time and effort in acquiring one.

Now, Badger is not necessarily opposed to having a Sainsbury’s near his sett. At least he will get more opportunities to push a trolley around a big prefabricated shed and roll his eyes at the price of such delicacies as tinned pilchards, UHT milk and pork luncheon meat. And everyone knows just how much fun that is.

LIBRARY TO BE OVERDUE

Cllr Elwyn Morse is possessed of remarkable powers of foresight. In April, Mystic Morse said “Improving the site and making it work better will improve the whole service for the people of Pembrokeshire and its visitors,” he said.

At the same time the Cabinet member for Culture hailed the successful bid for a £300,000 grant to help with Council’s ambitious plans that the library be, according to Head of Cultural Services Mike Cavanagh, a “cultural and learning hub at the heart of the community of Haverfordwest and beyond.”

Oh dear.

The Council’s plans have now been re-assessed. Far from the site of the library being the type of glistening beacon of learning and culture of which Elwyn Morse dreamed, it now appears to be more of an albino pachyderm.

The ambitious and worthy plans have been shelved. It happens that the County Council’s estimates of the cost of redevelopment were, shall we say, ‘optimistic’.

But how quick the reassessment of the site’s viability was!

It was July that Mystic Morse revealed that his crystal ball had been subject to unexpected interference:  “Unfortunately we are unable to go forward with the original proposals because the tender prices were well over the approved budget.

“In short, it is not feasible to proceed with the project in these straitened times.

“We are however actively considering other options to provide a 21st Century library in Haverfordwest and that could include re-locating to the town centre.

“Such a move would certainly provide a much needed boost for that area of Haverfordwest.”

One would have imagined that before closing a community facility, the Council would have done more than guess at the likely tender value of its replacement. The Council’s budget is less than the price of carrying out the works.

The whole process appears to have been less an exercise in replacing a tired facility than one in wishful thinking.

How can it be the case that it was okay to close the library in November 2012 or to receive a grant toward the replacement in April 2013 when the process of getting tenders for a replacement had not then been completed?

A closure intended to improve the service and the building now looks less part of a grand plan and more of a horrendous and avoidable misstep. Rather like trying to put out a fire in the County Council’s finances by throwing books on to it.

The Council remains so far silent on what it intends to do with the existing library site.

Badger has an idea, though.

We still haven’t got a Waitrose or an ASDA…!

We have a gap in the album.