Wales

Brecon children's library 'dismantled to make way for college'

Y Gaer
Image caption The new cultural centre, called Y Gaer (The Fortress), will transform the former Shire Hall

Powys County Council is being asked whether space is being cleared for a college in a £14m cultural hub before any official approval of the idea.

Council leaders say a college could bring stability to the delayed and over-budget Y Gaer in Brecon.

Labour councillors say they have heard the children's library is already being dismantled to make way for college use.

Cabinet members said the council was seeking more partners for the project and no final decision had been made.

Brecon's Grade II* listed Shire Hall was originally going to be turned into a new modern library with a cafe, community facilities and function rooms.

Image caption Y Gaer was supposed to have opened by St David's Day

Opening dates for last year and then March this year have been missed and the project is now more than £5m over budget.

The ruling Independent/Conservative coalition has suggested bringing in Brecon Beacons College, part of the Neath Port Talbot College (NPTC) group, to ensure "future financial stability".

But opposition groups have questioned the idea, fearing college use could restrict public access to the building, and may breach grant conditions.

Matthew Dorrance, leader of the Labour group, has written to council leader Rosemarie Harris asking whether a decision to involve the college had already been taken.

He said he had received reports "that suggest the Children's Library at Y Gaer has been dismantled to make way for NPT College Group", with college furniture being moved in.​

"This is of serious concern and is a direct contradiction of the assurances you have personally given me which you further echoed at the recent stakeholder meeting, where you said all options are on the table," he added.​

Powys County Council said no decision on any partnership with the college would be taken before November at the earliest.

In a joint statement, cabinet members Phyl Davies and Rachel Powell said: "Although initial discussions have been positive no final agreement has been made."

"We are inviting expressions of interest from other organisations who may want to become a partner in this exciting facility," they told the Local Democracy Reporting Service

On the matter of the children's library, they said: "There is no intention of removing this important space."

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