Labour councillors have decided to reopen a library closed under Plaid Cymru, with opposition councillors questioning the cost.
Cabinet members last week decided to approve plans to modernise the library at Pant Street in Aberbargoed, which closed in March this year. The plans include a creation of an information centre in the library and for it to house other services such as Flying Start.
The new library will house a team of three Flying Start health visitors, and provide hot desk provision for Flying Start and childcare staff. It will also support the provision of Flying Start services in Bargoed and three expansion areas in Markham and parts of Cefn Fforest and Pengam.
Cllr Keith Reynolds, deputy leader of the council, said: “I am delighted that cabinet approved these excellent proposals, which will see the Library and Information and Resource Centre offer some really unique services. These services will not only benefit the residents of Aberbargoed but the surrounding areas too.”
The new library will cost £83,000 for building and refurbishment works and will be funded from a projected revenue surplus for 2012/13. Operating costs of £33,000, the council says, will be funded from an anticipated budget surplus for 2012/13.
Cllr Colin Mann, Plaid Cymru’s group leader on Caerphilly County Borough Council, has questioned how Labour spending proposals will be funded in the future against a background of spending cuts.
He said: “The reopening of Aberbargoed Library as a library and resource centre must be queried in the current economic climate given the millions of pounds of public money that has gone into the Hanbury Chapel development, just down the road in Bargoed. While these schemes may add to community resources, one has to wonder whether it is a good use of public money in these very difficult times.
“I remain to be convinced that some projects and the spending that goes with them are sustainable in the long term given the savings in spending that will need to be made.”
Cllr Mann also questioned the cost of the introduction to the council’s living wage.
Councillor Mann added: “Funding for the living wage proposals is coming from social services, schools and school transport budgets.
“No one would argue against the introduction of a living wage to the lowest paid workers but it’s a case of paying for it in future. This also needs to be seen against a background of £20m to £25m spending cuts having to be made during the lifetime of the present council.”