A consultation into the controversial plans to merge Welshpool Library with the Powysland Museum started today (Monday, October 22), with a survey on the proposed changes uploaded on the Powys County Council website and placed in the library itself.

The group campaigning to save the library, who has previously criticised the way in which the council had made decisions behind closed doors, has called the survey "blackmail".

Brian Timmis, who set up the paper petition to save the library, said: "This is straightforward blackmail.

"The council are saying that if you don't let us merge them together, we're going to lose one or the other.

"It's divisive. It's asking which one we'd like to keep, which means which one you'd like to lose."

The survey is available on www.powys.gov.uk/haveyoursay until Friday, November 22.

Councillor Phyl Davies, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Recycling and Assets who is leading on a Powys wide property rationalisation project said: “We are looking to co-locate Welshpool Library with Powysland Museum next year to help rationalise the number of properties we have in the town and keep both services up and running. If we don’t take some action now we may be forced to close either the library or the museum in the near future to save money. We know residents love the library and the museum, and would prefer to see them unchanged, but we genuinely don’t feel this is the best option for the town or the future of the service. We’d like to put our case on the table and seek views on the options that we feel are facing us or hear any alternatives.”

Councillor Rachel Powell, Portfolio Holder for Young People and Culture added: “Our libraries and museums are historically much loved by our residents and I’m pleased that we have managed to keep all 18 of our branch libraries and our museums open so far. We’ve done so by either co-locating them or working with town and community councils and other partners like Crickhowell High School to support and manage them. We’ve successfully co-located Llanidloes Museum and Library, moved Llandrindod library into the Gwalia and Hay library into the new primary school.”

She continued: “Across the UK many small libraries and museums have closed and we don’t want that to happen here in Powys. Yes, this move is about making the necessary savings that we have to make, but it is also a great opportunity to create a new cultural space in the town whereby people can explore the rich history of Montgomeryshire, borrow a book, use a computer or look at some of our fascinating artefacts – all under one roof.”

Powys is in the position of needing to find savings of £37m by 2023.

Welsh Government has recently announced that Powys would face a 1% cut in funding next year.