WELSHPOOL Library will become an office for Powys County Council (PCC) workers to move into soon.

Councillors at the planning committee meeting on Thursday, October 24, sympathised with opponents of the decision to move the library to Powysland Museum.

But they said that they had to base their decision on the planning application in front of them.

Cllr Francesca Jump (Liberal Democrat – Welshpool Gungrog), who spoke against the application, asked the committee if it could defer the application. This was to allow for more time for consultation.

The library follows the decision by PCC’s cabinet in December 2018 to close its main office in Welshpool, the Grade II listed Neuadd Maldwyn.

Neuad Maldwyn is set to become an “Extra Care Facility” and is set to be transferred to the registered social landlord (RSL) ClwydAlyn for them to convert it.

Cllr Jump said: “Many Welshpool residents consider that no consultation took place and their views were not considered.

“A Save Welshpool Library campaign was set up and 4,000 people signed a petition, later 300 plus residents including Russell George (Montgomeryshire AM) marched in protest against the decision.

“A public meeting was requested but the cabinet declined to attend.

“Welshpool Library is a second most used library in Powys, the museum has a well deserved reputation for excellence, the co-location will seriously downgrade both facilities.”

Gareth Richards, of PCC property services, said: “With the decision of the library service to co-locate with the museum, the building will become redundant and we want to make use of that for office space.

“With the potential future closure of Neuadd Maldwyn we need to find space to provide an office and front facing service to Welshpool.

“It will allow us to keep staff in Welshpool and we will not need to move them to other towns.

Cllr Phil Pritchard (Independdent – Welshpool Castle) “totally disagreed” with Cllr Jump.

He said: “We’re not here to discuss whether the museum and library should be co-located, it’s the change of use for this building.”

“This is smack bang in the middle of town, the people of Welshpool want access to services from Powys County Council it’s an ideal building.”

Cllr Pritchard said that he was ready to move the motion.

Planning development manager, Peter Morris, said: “The debate around what the alternative provision is and whether it’s appropriate or not, has to happen outside this application.”

Cllr Kathryn Silk (Liberal Democrat – Bwlch) said: “It just seems a shame that  people who feel very strongly about the provision of the library in Welshpool have had to bring their objections to this committee.

“It’s not our business to  actually determine where the library goes.

“It’s rather sad and reminds me of the Abermule fiasco.”

The application was passed unanimously by the committee.