PROPOSED changes to Torfaen's library service will be scrutinised by councillors this week as part of planned council cuts totalling £250,000.

In March 2016, Torfaen County Borough Council agreed measures to address a project shortfall of £26 million in its budget from 2016 – 2019.

As part of these cuts, £250,000 was outlined for all three of the borough’s libraries — Blaenavon, Cwmbran and Pontypool.

In a lengthy public consultation, which closed on Sunday, December 18, the public were invited to give feedback on three options that would help save the required £250k.

The first option included reducing manned book loan service in all three libraries with self- service options available for non-manned days.

The second option included reducing manned book loan services in Blaenavon and Pontypool to two and a half days per week and Cwmbran to four days a week. The third option included closing a library.

On Thursday, January 5, a 'Cleaner Overview and Scrutiny Committee' will receive additional information on the three options for the "reconfiguration" of the council's library service.

The new information includes visitor figures for all three libraries, details on Torfaen's 31 library staff and six 'read me' volunteers and the reasons for not introducing a "fully automated" service similar to libraries operating in Newcastle and Manchester.

The report also references Blaenavon Library changing into the World Heritage Centre as a case study, the reasons behind the three proposed options and the cost implications for closing each library individually if this option was chosen.

The report also states that if a library were to close as part of proposals, Welsh Government may choose to “claw back" a percentage or all of the funding.

This could affect grants for the three libraries including Blaenavon’s £100,000, Pontypool’s £300,000 and Cwmbran’s £80,000.

In the meeting, the committee will be invited to review additional information on the borough's three libraries and re-consider options set out in the original report which was discussed on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Members will also consider Torfaen’s library provision in five years time while discussing the possibility of a framework for managing continued budget reduction in the future.

Under Torfaen CBC’s new Corporate Plan Three — the strategic document that will guide who Torfaen delivers services over the next five years — "libraries are not a priority", the report adds.

Members are expected to agree on a preferred option for library provision which will be "passed to the relevant executive member prior to any decision being made".

Torfaen CBC's executive member for regeneration, Councillor Lewis Jones, said: “We have no desire to close any of our libraries but with savings of £250,000 to make across the service we have to at least consider closure as an option.

“Fortunately our officers have been able to identify two alternative options that will allow us to make the required savings while keeping all libraries open, and allow us to continue to deliver a wide range of community support and activities."

He added:“We have had a huge response to our consultation from library users and a report will be taken to scrutiny next week, before a decision is taken in cabinet on January 17.”

The scrutiny meeting will take place at 1.30pm this Thursday and to watch it online, visit

The results of the public consultation will be published by Tuesday, February 28.

To view the council report, visit: