Wales

Powys budget deal lifts threat to libraries

Students in a library
Image caption Some of the threatened libraries have already cut costs by sharing premises with other services

A threat to the future of 10 libraries in Powys has been lifted in a deal to get the county council's budget passed.

Several independent and Conservative councillors voted last month against their own leaders' bid for £12m cuts.

Plans to charge blue badge holders for parking have also been dropped after cross-party talks, and there will be a smaller increase in school meal prices.

Council tax is still proposed go up by 9.5% when members are asked again to set the budget on Thursday.

Cuts to libraries, blue badge parking and leisure services were attacked during a stormy seven-hour meeting last month where the budget was rejected by a one-vote majority.

Opposition parties accused the ruling cabinet of being out of touch with the people of Powys, and unwilling to take unpopular decisions in some departments.

Changes agreed following discussions between group leaders include:

  • Libraries savings of £200,000 dropped
  • A new Community Enablement Fund of £100,000 to be set up
  • Sports development savings target to be cut by £50,000 - almost half
  • School meals to go up by 15p rather than 20p
  • Changes funded by not paying £500,000 into council reserves.

Senior officers said the proposed budget was still "adequately robust, but significant risk remains".

Many of the libraries under threat have already moved into premises shared with other services following a previous review.

But council bosses were looking to volunteers, charities and town councils to take them over.

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