A brand new library in the centre of Neath alongside the planned new swimming pool, leisure centre and retail zone could give a huge boost to the town’s vitality contributing to the overall regeneration of the town.
That is one of the ideas contained in a comprehensive review of library services carried out by Neath Port Talbot Council which has taken in views from the public, library staff, councillors, community groups, senior Council officers and library professionals.
The review says a spacious new library equipped with modern facilities could create footfall figures of 200,000 a year and standing adjacent to the new retail and leisure complex, on which work is due to start next summer, it would form a leisure, culture and education destination in the heart of Neath.
Under the proposal, the existing Neath Library at Victoria Gardens would close. Usage there has fallen by 30% over the past decade.
The existing library also has £463,000 of outstanding maintenance plus concerns over the heating system and other mechanical and electrical issues. It also believed the limitations of the current library building is contributing to the fall in usage.
The review says:”The library can be an anchor institution for Neath which will create a better platform for community engagement, support the local economy, provide quality learning opportunities and support the health and well-being of the town and its residents for years to come.”
The relocation of Neath Library is one of a number of recommendations contained in the review which will be discussed by the Council’s Special Education, Skills and Culture Cabinet Board on December 18th.
Other recommendations include:
• Relocating the Council’s Library Service Headquarters and Education Library and Resource Centre (ELRS) housed in the ageing former Glan Afan Lower School, Velindre, to Ynsymaerdy School, Briton Ferry.
• Purchasing a new, 20ft long mobile library to replace two older vehicles to ensure the essential service (reaching more than 40 communities) will continue.
• Buying a new delivery van to replace the existing 13-year-old one to ensure the Home Delivery Service continues. The possibility of using a fully electric vehicle to tie in with the Council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy Strategy will also be explored.
• Ensuring Port Talbot Central Library continues its service the public, consideration will be given to either finding alternative premises for the library in Port Talbot Town Centre, or renegotiating the lease at the existing site before 2025 when the current lease is due to expire.
• Confirming the relocation of Skewen Library to Carnegie Hall.
• All eight branch libraries should be maintained at their present level with the existing total number of opening hours remaining the same.
• Community managed libraries should continue to have the same level of support, namely, professional support, staff training, access to the Library Management System and regular book stock exchange as at present (but with further support from Tier One libraries – Port Talbot, Pontardawe and Neath).
• The adoption of a staffing plan that will address succession management and the continued delivery of a library service.
Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture said: “We want this new library to help form a leisure, culture and education destination in the middle of Neath’s town centre which will also serve to bring more people into Neath.” More stories