Protestors against the closure of Rhydyfelin library made their presence felt outside the National Assembly today. The gathering was part of their on-going campaign to try and force the RCT Labour Cabinet to change their minds and keep this much needed facility open.
When the Council consulted on possible library closures at the end of last year as part of their savage phase 1 cuts residents were pleased that Rhydyfelin seemed set to stay. The Cabinet report scored facilities according to a range of factors including use and geographical location and a solid case was it seemed made to retain Rhydyfelin.
When the Cabinet met in January to rubber stamp their final decision it came as shock when they announced that Rhydyfelin would close and instead Pontyclun would be kept open. Residents were understandably furious.
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts met with protestors on the Senedd steps.
"It was nice to see such a good turn-out, but a shame that people have to go to these lengths to try and get their voices heard.
"There is obviously a lot of anger amongst residents, and understandably so. The Council's own report gave many of the reasons why Rhydyfelin library should be one of those kept open. It is well used by the community for a wide variety of purposes including adult learning and activities for children.
"Rhydyfelin is a Communities First area, by definition one of the most deprived in Wales. They have seen their local swimming pool at Hawthorn close and the free to use paddling pool in Pontypridd ripped up by the Labour Council. They are not prepared to stand by and let another facility disappear."
The campaign group are looking at a judicial review of the decision which they say was unfair and did not follow due process.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell has attended several meetings with the group. He says
"From the point of view of Rhydyfelin residents they see everything going to the west of the constituency, towards Talbot Green and Pontyclun. Now whilst this should not be an us and them fight, it is difficult to argue with some of their points.
"Pontyclun library was earmarked for closure, but was saved in exchange for Rhydyfelin. The local Councillors there, who at least were doing something for their community, fought to keep the library and instead close the Day Centre. The Cabinet went along with that but now Pontyclun Community council have come along and asked, and been allowed, to take over the Day Centre rent free.
"Pontypridd Town Council have come forward with no such ideas, and the Labour County Councillors in Rhydyfelin and Hawthorn have done nothing to support the calls of residents to retain services."
Rhydyfelin library protest