Plaid and Labour clash over decision to reopen Aberbargoed library
The Labour and Plaid Cymru groups on Caerphilly County Borough Council have resumed hostilities for the New Year in a row over Aberbargoed Library.
The library was originally closed in March 2012 by the then Plaid Cymru administration because of cost, and the fact that Bargoed had a new library.
Aberbargoed Library, in Pant Street, was then reopened by the Labour Party in 2013, following its local election win, at a refurbishment cost of £90,000.
A fresh war of words has now erupted over the number of people using the reopened library.
Figures obtained by Plaid Cymru under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that there were less than ten visits an hour at the library between April and September last year. Bargoed had 60 visits an hour over the same period.
The number of items loaned out at Aberbargoed also averaged just five items an hour.
Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “This shows the expensive folly of reopening the Aberbargoed library when there was a superb library just a mile away in Bargoed.
“The figures indicate that Aberbargoed library and resource is not well used and hasn’t been since it reopened in 2013. Its reopening was nothing more than an expensive vanity project by the Labour group which taxpayers could ill-afford. And the council has already cut library opening hours across the county borough.
“I warned in September 2012 that this spending was not a good use of public money in difficult financial times but as usual the Labour group buried their heads in the sand and carried on with this project. If the reopened library had been well used I would not be commenting. Unfortunately this is not the case.”
Lindsay Whittle AM, the former leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, added: “Millions of pounds of public money went into the Hanbury Road redevelopment in Bargoed and reopening Aberbargoed just a mile away was a serious blunder.”
But Labour has hit back.
Caerphilly council leader Keith Reynolds said: “We are aware that Plaid do not support small community libraries and they believe that it is acceptable for the elderly and young children to travel to Bargoed.
“In that regard, given the proximity of both Llanbradach and Abertridwr libraries to Caerphilly library I will be requesting a report on the future of both.
“I trust Plaid will be consistent and that it will be equally acceptable for the residents of Llanbradach and Abertridwr to travel to Caerphilly.”
Cllr Gez Kirby, ward member for Pontllanfraith and spokesman for the Labour group, added: “Why should Aberbargoed residents have to travel across to the other side of the Rhymney Valley when they have a perfectly good facility on their doorstep?
“It’s being used. It was Plaid’s fault it was closed, Labour delivered its promise to re-open it.”
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