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2 June 2014

Rhydyfelin library occupied by protesters

Community campaigners slam RCT Labour council

Dave Reid

Community campaigners occupied Rhydyfelin library near Pontypridd on 31 May in protest at its closure by Rhondda Cynon Taff council. Four of them chained themselves to the bookshelves.

The library was due to close that afternoon but 100 local people thronged into it in a community show of support for the library and in defiance of the Labour council. They held a big, enthusiastic meeting with speeches and poems against the cuts including a very good one written by 10-year old Rebecca.

Rhondda Cynon Taff council was hoping to close 14 out of the area's 27 libraries, a massive cut in community facilities. Rhydyfelin was a last minute addition to the list of libraries to close, but it has proved the most determined to fight the closure.

The campaign has applied for a judicial review to prevent the closure on the grounds that the process for selecting it for closure is flawed, which will be held at Newport County Court on Thursday 5 June. But Rhondda Cynon Taff council went ahead with the closure anyway, only to be met by the occupation of the library.

Four of the campaigners chained themselves to the bookshelves for four hours until the police arrived.

Campaigners are disgusted by the actions of the council which has announced Rhydyfelin's closure at the last minute and then tried to bulldoze it through. They believe that Rhydyfelin was cynically selected because the ward has been a rock-solid Labour seat so Labour will not lose the seat in the elections in 2017.

But Labour on RCT council are in for a shock: one of the fighters, Caron Hadland, announced at the meeting that she is standing as an independent to oppose all the council cuts at the next council election.

Click here for a short video of the occupation

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 2 June 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.