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Relocation of Machynlleth library strongly opposed by vast majority of residents

Machynlleth Library (pic: Google Streetview)

THE VAST majority of people who took part in a consultation on the future of Machynlleth library, don’t want it to be part of the new Ysgol Bro Hyddgen building.

Throughout February, Powys County Council held a “public engagement exercise” to find out the views of people in the town and Dyfi Valley on a proposal to relocate the library into the new school once it’s built.

Out of 200 consultation responses 179, which equates to 89.5 per cent of those who took part, disagreed, or strongly disagreed that the library should be moved from its current location on Heol Maengwyn – to the new all through school building.

Last autumn the Powys cabinet agreed to go ahead with a scaled down proposal for the new Machynlleth school campus.

Originally the new school building would include library and leisure facilities which had been estimated to cost £48 million in 2020.

But by October 2022 the cost had shot up to £66 million.

Dropping the leisure centre from the project would see the costs dip to under £50 million with 65 per cent of the funding coming from the Welsh Government.

The revised business case was agreed by the Welsh Government in January.

As part of the new decision councillors agreed to ask residents what they want to do about the library.

Under delegated powers on Tuesday, May 2, both education portfolio holder, Cllr Pete Roberts and culture portfolio holder Cllr David Selby will receive the “public engagement” findings and are expected to go ahead with the school build – without the library.

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Schools transformation manager, Marianne Evans said that the distance from the town centre to the school had been a concern and believe this would prevent people using the library if put into the school.

Ms Evans said: “It is advised that the school project continues without the inclusion of the town library – this will enable the project to move on to the procurement stage.

“However, given the significant financial pressures facing the council, it is also advised that further consideration is given to the provision of the most cost-effective library service in the town of Machynlleth.”

The report explains that there is an estimated £55,000 maintenance backlog at the library and it’s running costs are £12,000 a year – which doesn’t include staff.

Powys county councillor for Machynlleth, Cllr Michael Williams said: “I totally agree with the library not going to the school.”

Cllr Williams wants the repairs done to the library.

“Very little has been invested in the building since its construction,” said Cllr Williams.

Cllr Mike Williams

Chairman of Bro Hyddgen governors and county councillor for nearby Glantwymyn, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan said: “I agree with the recommendation in the report and reflects the general opinion within the local community.”

Due to the council’s cabinet member delegated decision process, five days will be allowed to pass just in case the decision is “called-in” by councillors for scrutiny before it comes into force.