9:32pm Thursday 17th October 2013
A CAMPAIGN group set up to save Usk Library will hold a public meeting next week.
The Save Usk Library Action Group was formed by library users and residents amid fears the service could be under threat.
The group’s Facebook page has attracted more than 450 'likes' and a petition, signed by 265 people, is calling on the council’s chief executive, Paul Matthews, to keep the library open.
Nearly 150 people attended a public meeting in Usk Memorial Hall last week to show their support for the campaign where they unanimously agreed the library, which is behind the Community Education Centre on Maryport Street, should remain open.
A Monmouthshire council report on budget proposals looked at areas where money could be saved by combining libraries and one-stop shops. A report to council advised that the budget for the county libraries should be cut by £180,000, in a bid to save £9 million next year. Monmouthshire’s library service is a key-money saving area and the report said that if it was decided to close Usk and Gilwern Libraries, it could happen eight weeks later. The service employs two full-time and one part-time staff.
Action group organiser, Julie McGowan said, ‘The reaction has been swift and overwhelming. Whilst we appreciate that the county council has to make budgetary cuts, no-one in Usk can understand why the closure of our library has to be one of them. We have a large proportion of elderly residents who are unable to travel further afield, and our very limited bus services make a 20-mile round trip to the nearest library impossible for many. We cannot understand how the proposed saving of £57,000 has been arrived at.”
The council’s chief officer for regeneration and culture, Kellie Beirne, said no firm decision on any service has been made but the council is looking at how council functions can be provided-as they operate currently or in a different way in the future. The next open meeting is at 8pm in the Centenary Hall on October 22.
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