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Manic Street Preacher Joins Protest To Stop Library Cuts - South Wales Echo, 6th February 2015

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Title: Manic Street Preacher Joins Protest To Stop Library Cuts
Publication: South Wales Echo
Date: Friday 6th February 2015
Writer: Abbie Wightwick


The singer of Welsh super band Manic Street Preachers has accused Cardiff council of wanting to turn its main library into a shopping complex and of turning the city into a "cultural wasteland".

James Dean Bradfield has reacted angrily to the proposed cuts to Cardiff's library services.

In a strongly worded statement to senior councillors, including the council's leader Phil Bale, Bradfield tells them "the dream is dead or under threat".

The Blackwood band opened Cardiff's Central Library in 2009 which Bradfield described as "an immensely proud moment".

He also describes how he and his own family enjoy using the library and his fears that it could instead be turned into a "retail opportunity".

The statement, seen by the Echo, reads: "When Nick, Sean and I opened the Cardiff Central Library in 2009, it was an immensely proud moment for us.

"It felt like a seamless journey from Blackwood Central to Cardiff Central.

As Blackwood had been a place to meet, discover and read, so became Cardiff Central library and I continue to use the service with my family.

"But now it seems that the dream is dead or under threat. Odds on that Cardiff Council will eventually cut a deal to transfer the library into the hands of a luxury retail opportunity. The rumble of an oncoming cultural wasteland as sponsored by Cardiff City Council."

Michael Sweetman, Cardiff council's Unison area organiser, confirmed the statement came from the singer following requests from campaigners to various high profile people in the arts community to garner support against the library cuts.

Mr Sweetman said the singer had sent the statement to council leader Phil Bale, deputy leader Sue Lent and cabinet member Peter Bradbury whose portfolio includes responsibility for libraries, Councillor Bradbury denied that there is any intention to transform Central Library into such a development.

He said: "A formal response has been given to this letter. Within my reply, I once again reinforced the message that there is no intention to transfer ownership of the library into retail hands.

"In fact our proposal for Cardiff Central Library is to create a flagship super hub that will offer a number of council services under one roof, which includes library services.

"The Hub approach within Central Library represents an effective and sustainable way of bringing together the excellent services already offered with partner advice services that will maximise the positive outcomes that we always aim to achieve for the population of Cardiff.

"The City Council remains very proud that our landmark library was officially opened by The Manic Street Preachers."

It is not known whether James Dean Bradfield or the other band members will attend a protest in Cardiff tomorrow against the cuts being proposed by the council.

According to a Facebook campaign page, more than 900 people are expected to attend the protest which coincides with National Libraries Day.

The protest is part of a campaign against Cardiff council's draft budget plans to remove funding from seven libraries in the city as the authority battles dwindling funding from central government.

Campaigners claim the libraries proposal, which would save the council £283,000, could lead to the closure of Rumney, Rhiwbina, Cathays, Roath, Whitchurch, Rhydypennau and Radyr libraries. Authors and writers from around Wales will join the rally which starts at 12pm outside Cardiff Central Library.

Those attending include Peter Finch, author of the Real Cardiff series and former head of Academi/ Literature Wales, and novelists Francesca Rhydderch, Gwynneth Lewis and Gwennan Evans.

"With local branches under threat as well as the proposed reduction in Cardiff Central Libraries provision, many campaigners are angered by the outcome of last Thursday's full council vote, during which, a motion to preserve the service was narrowly overturned by two votes," said campaigner Adam Johannes.

Writer Tessa Hadley, Author of The London Train, said: "It's easy to think of libraries as dispensable when other essential services are on the line because of government cuts, but I passionately believe that library provision is essential too.

"The library is a door that opens on the world outside, and it's also a precious aspect of our human community."

Peter Finch said he was appalled at the proposed cuts.

"I started my reading life in the library that stands on the corner of Roath Park Recreation Ground.

"Libraries are central to our intellectual life.

"They are resources for knowledge, access points to culture, and community centres all rolled into one.

"That they should be sacrificed in pursuit of saving a small sliver from the local council's budget is appalling beyond belief."