Council to arrange public engagement over proposals for library services

The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to make identified savings across library and cultural services provided by Awen Cultural Trust, and to organise public engagement over how future savings can be achieved.


In line with the Medium Term Financial Strategy and following extensive work with Awen, the library book renewal fund is to be reduced by £50,000 for this financial year, and a £15,000 subsidy for Bridgend Youth Theatre will be withdrawn. Public engagement will also be organised to determine how future savings can be achieved as part of a wider strategy for community hubs, libraries and cultural services.


The Leader, Cllr Huw David said: “The need to make urgent savings across council services is a direct result of the ongoing national funding crisis that local authorities all over the UK are experiencing.


“Having managed to provide essential services throughout 14 long, difficult years of austerity, inflation and cuts in the amount of funding that we receive, we find ourselves at a point where we can no longer protect people from feeling the impact of some of the significant reductions we are being forced to find.


“This is why we have agreed to engage with local residents and ask them to work alongside us and our partners at Awen Cultural Trust so that we can focus our resources on the areas that people feel are most important.”


Cllr Neelo Farr, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Wellbeing, said: “Our relationship with Awen Cultural Trust is one of this authority’s big success stories, and they have been delivering improved services to local people on our behalf for almost a decade while also helping to achieve an overall partnership saving of more than £775,000.


“Highlighted by Welsh Government as an example of best practice, the partnership has achieved the highest customer satisfaction ratings in Wales, and has delivered enhanced facilities and major investment across local libraries, Bryngarw Country Park and iconic community venues such as Maesteg Town Hall and Porthcawl’s Grand Pavilion.


“Unfortunately, the realities of the national local government funding crisis mean that we must now work alongside Awen and local residents to identify how we can reduce costs with a minimum of impact in order to make urgent savings.


“Once the engagement is ready to launch, I hope that as many residents as possible will take part and have their say.”


Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, added: “Awen recognises the very challenging financial position that our local authority partners face.

“We will be working closely with them in trying to ensure that whatever decisions are taken, the impact on our users, audiences and beneficiaries are mitigated as much as possible.”


The council will publicise details on how people can take part and have their say as soon as the public engagement is ready.


Once it has been completed and feedback on potential options has been analysed, a new report will be considered by Cabinet before any final decisions are made.