War of words over fight to reopen Brymbo Library


Rory Sheehan

A WAR of words has erupted between a councillor and an Assembly Member over the future of a threatened library.

Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers and Labour AM Ken Skates have locked horns over the community takeover of Brymbo Library.

Cllr Rogers slammed Mr Skates for what he called a “lack of support” from Clwyd South AM for the community’s fight to re-open the cherished repository.

But Mr Skates hit back, suggesting Cllr Rogers needs to “get his skates on and catch up” with the funding situation.

The library was earmarked for closure by Wrexham Council in January as part of a range of savings trying to trim £45m from council spending over the next five years.

It closed its doors at the start of last month.

In response to a press release issued by Mr Skates suggesting funding may be available to reopen the library, Cllr Rogers said he was surprised the AM hadn’t been in touch with the working group looking to save it.

He said: “The news that funding is available to reopen community facilities is very much welcome BUT IT’S disappointing the AM hasn’t discussed this funding with the working group or Wrexham Council.

“Our AM has not been very supportive at all.

“Earlier this year, the Labour Welsh Government rejected a funding application by Wrexham Council to reopen a library at Brymbo Enterprise Centre.

“This was an exciting opportunity which would have given the village a new modern community facility. Let’s be clear: This opportunity has now been lost

“Following this disappointing decision, we’re now looking to find an alternative venue to reopen a library and talks are progressing well.

“But our AM seems more interested in giving warm words through the media rather than actually talking to and working with the communities he is supposed to represent.”

But Mr Mr Skates fought his corner in a response to the Brymbo member, arguing there are still plenty of opportunities for the community to take on the facility.

He said: “I’m afraid Paul Rogers needs to get his skates on and catch up with where we are.

“The Welsh Government could yet find the money to modernise the existing premises and there is also the chance of a very significant Welsh Government grant to fund a relocation of the library should the group’s plans progress, as I have explained to him in my response to his query to my office.

“As an elected representative of Brymbo, I urge Cllr Rogers to take the initiative as others have done for their communities elsewhere.”

Earlier Mr Skates had urged campaigners looking to save the library to apply for a Welsh Government grant, having written to Culture Minister John Griffiths to see what financial support is available to relocate the library.

He said: “The application to modernise the existing library premises is on the Welsh Government’s reserve list and will be addressed if or when funding becomes available.

“But in the meantime, I’ll support the working group in trying to reopen it elsewhere and am keen to help however I can.

“I have been able to establish that funding could be available for the library under our Communities Facilities Programme, which is open to community and voluntary sector organisations, including social enterprises, and allocates grants up to a maximum of £500,000.

“I’ve written to the group and would encourage them to make an application.

“Residents will have seen what is happening with Plas Madoc.

“If the vision, the drive and public will are there then positive outcomes can be achieved for our communities.”

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