AM for South Wales West Byron Davies backs campaign to keep Briton Ferry Library open
A POLITICIAN has pledged to back Briton Ferry councillors who are fighting to keep the town's library open.
Byron Davies, who is a regional AM for South Wales West, said he felt Briton Ferry had already lost enough.
Over the years the town has lost its police station, education hub Community House, hospital and the council is proposing to close Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School.
The library — a listed building — is one of nine libraries threatened with closure by Neath Port Talbot Council, which has undertaken a review of the whole service.
A consultation on the proposed closures is currently being held.
Town councillors in Briton Ferry said they don't want to see something else taken away from the town.
Mr Davies said the "iconic building" must be retained.
He said: "If the council says it is too expensive to maintain and repair, I would be happy to support residents in any attempts to set up a trust to run the building or perhaps the town council could take it on.
"Grants are available to community groups which are not available to borough councils so it may be possible to get funding from bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund to get it put back into good repair.
"A library could then be run by the community as well as providing a venue for other activities.
"I am asking for a meeting with Neath Port Talbot officers to explore options for this building and to see if the council could support any move by the community to take it over."
The decision on the future of Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School now rests with the Welsh Government.
Mr Davies added: "I supported parents and staff in the fight to keep Cwrt Sart school open.
"If Neath Port Talbot Council has its way, an excellent school with a proven track record for academic excellence will be lost and pupils will be forced to walk almost three miles to a new school at Sandfields.
"I know that this decision is still in the balance as Education Minister Huw Lewis will have the final say but it has left residents in limbo at the moment. To now hear that the council intends to shut the town's library is a closure too far."
Community groups and organisations, councillors and interested parties are being asked to share their views during a consultation exercise on the library service.
Library staff and representatives from trade unions will also be consulted in the library service review process and bosses hope to minimise redundancies.
A final report, based upon the consultation, will then be drafted in December.