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Rhydyfelin victory! Library to re-open on Monday
Rhydyfelin campaigners show it pays to fight cuts
In a stunning victory campaigners have forced Rhondda Cynon Taff council to re-open Rhydyfelin library. After occupying the library and chaining themselves to the bookshelves the campaigners took the council to court over the procedure for closing the library.
The combined pressure of a vibrant campaign by the community with the threat of a judicial review proved too much for the council. The promise by campaigners to stand in the next council elections against the Labour councillors undoubtedly also played a part in forcing the climb-down.
RCT Labour council's cuts programme is getting very frayed around the edges as independent campaigns have forced a series of climb-downs. The reprieve for Rhydyfelin library is the biggest blow to the council so far. Parents have also won a High Court case to prevent the abolition of full-time nursery education for three year olds.
The sheer scale of the £56 million cuts in RCT has provoked a big movement of individual campaigns against the cuts. The Rhydyfelin and nursery victories show it pays to fight the cuts and will embolden other campaigns in the borough.
Rhondda Cynon Taff council had announced the closure of Rhydyfelin library at the last minute as it withdrew a proposal to close Pontyclun library. This provoked a huge campaign by a shocked community and made it subject to a judicial review by the campaign. The campaign was fresh, energetic and positive and carried the whole community behind it.
Now is an opportunity to unite the anti-cuts movement in RCT and to take stock of the lessons of the victories. It is still possible to stop the current round of cuts, but also to prepare to resist the next round which threatens a whole host of community facilities.
Clearly it was correct for the Rhydyfelin library campaign and the Parents Against Education Cuts to take the council to court. The court victories have made it extremely difficult for the council to come back with the same cutbacks again. But the courts offer only a very limited protection against the cuts. The court judgements were won over procedural issues, not the cuts themselves, and if the council is more careful in its procedures in the future the legal avenue will be more difficult for anti-cuts campaigns to use.