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Plaid and Labour clash over decision to reopen Aberbargoed library

Published in News at 13:00, Thursday January 7th, 2016.

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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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  • Triban-Wales

    Colin Mann and Whittle `nil` Caerphilly Council Leader Keith Reynolds play`s a blinder. Well done Labour.

    • Cllr Richard Williams

      Storm in a teacup. Welsh Labour + Plaid Cymru = two cheeks of the same backside

      • Triban-Wales

        Why then ,given that what you say is the case, should Plaid Cymru Councillors be concerned that the facility in Aberbargoed, A LABOUR WARD, should be closed for the reason given, yet, using the exactly the same criteria, the same facilities in the two Plaid Cymru Wards (mentioned by the Labour Leader of the Council), should, according to the Plaid Cymru Council leader and AM Lindsay Whittle, BE PRESERVED?. Don`t seem to me to be to political parties belonging to the same backside, in fact, quite the opposite.

        • Cllr Richard Williams

          My point was that these two parties squabble over small scale spending like this (For the record I think that Aberbargoed, Llanbradach and Abertridwr libraries should be kept open) whilst maintaining a deafening silence about giving our financial reserves to dodgy Icelandic financial institutions, providing massive pay rises to chief officers and continuing to pay suspended staff huge amounts in wages. I could go on but there is several million quid mentioned there.

          If Labour loses their majority in Cardiff because of a large UKIP vote, as is expected, watch Labour and Plaid jump into bed together and form a coalition in the assembly. This is why I find this metaphor useful.

          • Ian Gorman

            Exactly Richard! Labour and Plaid fight in the same socialist and statist political space and differ only in their outlook in the nationalist dimension – although the warped minds in Plaid somehow reconcile their anti-English racism with an infatuation for all consuming EU.

            The problem for the citizens of Caerphilly is that we are used as the pawns in their game of petty chess, like this manufactured crisis over the libraries. Each party seeks to protect its own voter base at the expense of the other’s. Over the years it is the citizens who have suffered from these immature games played by Winsey Little and his Laybore opponents.

          • Triban-Wales

            I get Richard and your point exactly. But, how many of these `Pawns` do UKIP expect to attract in forthcoming elections?, it is a pity that you cannot accept that those PAWNS who currently vote Plaid, and Labour, are the very people you and your party want to get on board with you and your party at the Assembly and Council Elections, I dont think you do yourself and party much credit by reference to each person who currently votes for those parties, and therefore ACTUALLY votes at all, as PAWNS. I am sure you did`nt mean to be disrespectful to prospective supporters of UKIP? did you?

          • Ian Gorman

            Triban, I am glad that you saw the crux of my point. I believe, and I know Richard agrees and that you do also, that our citizen should not be treated so badly by our local politicians. My comment was solely in reference to the electorate’s current treatment at the hands of local Plaid and Labour councilors.

            I want to see people empowered and invigorated to build a better future for our area. What they have not been given until now is a prospective third choice. My background and experiences are very different from many of the people I have met since returning from my travels but it is clear that the status quo is not getting us anywhere.