The decision to close Rhydyfelin library is due to go to judicial review next week on 18th June with residents hoping to mirror the success of the nursery cuts campaign and have the decision declared unlawful.
If RCT Council had any sense then they would simple give in now and save the taxpayer a considerable amount of money in yet more legal fees. It is difficult to see how they can win, especially in light of the recent precedent set and their argument which, if their letter to the Assembly's Communities, Equalities & Local Government Committee is anything to go by is weak to say the least.
The Committee have been carrying out an inquiry into library provision in Wales and sent a letter to Council who were making cuts asking about their procedures. The full letter can be accessed here, but the main thrust is that their consultation was extensive and all encompassing, and their Equality Impact Assessment covered all necessary aspects. This is of course absolute nonsense, especially in the case of Rhydyfelin library.
The letter states:
"In addition, feedback received from the public consultation process that took place between 4th November 2013 and 2nd December 2013 was considered. Responses received from the announcement of the proposed service changes on 14th October 2013, before the consultation period officially started, were also included in the analysis of results.
"Feedback of sorts was included, but Lord Justice Supperstone during the judicial review into nursery cuts which was based on the same report made it clear he did not think it sufficient. The comments included were very selective and he was critical of the fact that there was no Officer comment which gave any weight or otherwise to any of the points raised. The results were not "an analysis" as such merely an amalgamation of some of the responses."
The letter goes on to list the ways in which the consultation was publicised. There was a significant amount of public opinion that said it had not been publicised enough. The consultation covered several areas of operation as well as libraries - this included Day Centres, Meals on Wheels and of course the nursery education cuts proposal which has since been deemed unlawful.
There was criticism that insufficient leaflets were made available generally. The campaign group against the nursery cuts had their own printed from various sources in order that they could give them out at schools. They also amassed all they could find from libraries and other public places where very few had been provided to begin with. Councillors were given very limited numbers.
The letter concludes:
"Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has considered, in detail, the likely effects of library closures on individuals and communities and has made every effort to mitigate any adverse consequences on the most vulnerable residents. We believe that the current changes being introduced, will ensure that the library service is more sustainable and resilient and better able to meet the needs of customers in a rapidly changing environment."
This is incorrect. There is absolutely no evidence of it at all. Nowhere in any report placed before the Cabinet does it mention the closure of Rhydyfelin library. None of the consultation responses addresses the possible closure of Rhydyfelin library because people thought they did not need to fight to save it.
There is nothing at all which says why the original proposal was changed and so how can they say that the service will be more sustainable and resilient? They have provided absolutely no evidence to back up this assertion. In fact the opposite is true, as the initial report contained all the reasons why Rhydyfelin library should be retained.
A fuller analysis of this can be found on link. The simple fact is that RCT Cabinet made the decision regarding Rhydyfelin library on the hoof and with no sound evidence to back it up. They should just admit it now.