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Conwy North Wales Politics

Library protest to campaign against 25% reduction in opening hours

A PROTEST is being staged this weekend against proposals to reduce Conwy library opening hours.

Conwy Council is looking to slash library opening hours by 25% in a bid to save more money.

The move would see staff redundancies, but the reduced hours would mean Conwy Council would claw back £157,126 annually.

It comes after the authority agreed to increase council tax by 9.67% and slash frontline service budgets.

The council cut library opening hours by 20% in 2013.

The authority is currently holding a public consultation on libraries, which is open until April 2.

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Dr Samah Massalhan, a consultant at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, who lives in Llanfairfechan with her partner Steve Wilson and their two children Carys, six, and Jonathan, three, is organising a “read-in” at Llanfairfechan Library this Saturday 16 March.

Dr Massalhan is encouraging people to come to the library as part of a protest against the proposals.

“We are staging a read-in at Llanfairfechan Library so people can read a book or use a computer and show that they care,” she said.

“I’m a parent and don’t want to see the hours reduced.

“We’re already losing school funding, so this is about the education of our children.

“As a parent, we borrow Welsh books from the library. We don’t speak Welsh at home, but the books at the library are hugely important to us.

“I’m deeply concerned and dismayed. It is a community hub. We are losing the freedom of books.

“One in five children don’t own a book so the library is invaluable.

“It is very important to encourage our children to read. My daughter reads every night, and she does that because we go to the library and pick new books to read in English and Welsh.

“The library has also got toys children might not have at home. My daughter is only six and she’s upset about the library having reduced hours.”

Conwy’s library service has 28,000 members and helped more than 235,000 customers in 2022/23.

But the service is regarded as especially valuable to the more vulnerable in society as the buildings provide a safe, warm space where access to computers and wifi provide “a lifeline” to many.

According to a council report, Conwy’s post-pandemic library service use has recovered well with Llandudno library seeing 60% more visits between April to September 2023 than the previous year whilst Abergele and Conwy libraries have also seen increases of 50%.

For more information about the public consultation, visit https://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Libraries-Museums-and-Archives/Conwy-Library-Service-Public-Consultation.aspx

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