Thousands say no to Neath / Port Talbot library closures

Overwhelming response in campaign to save library services

Residents across Neath and Port Talbot have responded in their thousands to a campaign to save their local libraries.

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition initiated by UNISON Cymru Wales to tell their councillors not to close libraries in Baglan and Skewen, the mobile library service and Cefn Coed Museum.

The local UNISON branch will present the petition to Neath and Port Talbot council leader Alun H Thomas, and Aled Evans, director of education, on Monday 11 January 2016 at 10am at the Civic Centre, Port Talbot.

Councillors from all parties will also be present as the petition is received, together with David Rees AM, Bethan Jenkins AM, Jeremy Miles the Labour assembly candidate for Neath and representatives from the offices of Christina Rees MP and Stephen Kinnock MP.

“There has been an absolutely overwhelming response from the public to our campaign, joining us in public meetings and signing the petition,” said Neath Port Talbot UNISON branch chair Mark Fisher.

“They feel passionately that libraries are at the heart of community life and must be saved.

“The Cefn Coed Museum is the only remaining museum left in the borough and has a fantastic mining heritage,” he added.

“We know that Welsh councils are under severe pressure from savage UK Conservative government funding cuts.

“However, there is an onus on Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council to protect our vital public services.

“Our libraries serve a social and educational need. They also provide necessary digital and internet facilities for our community.

“Threatening libraries’ future goes against the council’s desire to move to online accessing of its services.”

But, added Mr Fish: “We are saying to the councillors, work with UNISON Cymru Wales and local people to find viable alternatives to ensure a positive future for library services in the region.”

In addition to the 4,000 letters to Cllr Thomas, UNISON has collated over 2,000 letters to be presented at a later date to Welsh government deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism Ken Skates AM, asking for Welsh government intervention.

UNISON Cymru Wales warns that the council will fall below the statute for library provision set out in the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act if these cuts go ahead and the minister has powers to intervene if required.

Mr Skates has previously met with UNISON and the council to discuss the cuts.

An online version of the petition is still live at and UNISON is encouraging members of the public to sign it