Group are bringing library back to life
LESS than two years ago the people of Rumney faced losing their library due to council cuts.
And when Cardiff council proposed cutting funding from libraries across the city, campaigns sprang up.
One of the most vocal groups was Community Action for Rumney Library (CARL).
While the Labour-run council backed down on their hugely controversial plans, there were still worries about preserving library provision.
In summer 2015, the council began work on a new hub. But the campaigners from CARL were adamant they wanted their building to remain open.
Along with Rumney Forum, they asked people what they wanted to see, with the most commonly suggested items being a community space and coffee shop.
A proposal to buy the building from Cardiff council was submitted, with the plan being an accessible community space for everyone.
Committee members went on a course to learn the skills necessary to go ahead with their plans, while volunteers from Rumney Chapel have also been key.
Local butcher Lee Evans bought the building from the council, and the group signed a 99-year peppercorn lease in November.
Mr Evans said: “I used Rumney Library when I was at school and so did my daughter Katie and her friends. I have watched our community use the building for over 30 years. When I heard that Cardiff council was selling the building I wanted to make sure that the building remained as a community asset.
“I was concerned about what might happen if a property developer bought the building. I am a member of Rumney Forum and knew that they had worked hard to retain some library services in Rumney and they had a dream to create a community resource in Rumney that everyone in Rumney and the wider area of east Cardiff could use.
“We worked together, and with Cardiff council, to enable me to buy the building and award Rumney Forum a very long lease on the ground floor. Now the work really begins.”
Inside will be Wales’ first Library of Things – where people borrow items instead of books – as well as a book library, coffee shop, play area for under-fives and rooms for hire.
The generosity has continued, with Willmott Dixon agreeing to carry out free building work.
The volunteers want to open a cafe using food that would otherwise end up in landfill, but their next challenge is to find someone to fit their kitchen.
Local mum Becky Harford is one of the trustees. She said: “There is a lot to do and we need to raise a lot of money but we are confident we can do it. We keep on saying it’s a marathon not a sprint. This is such a personal journey for me. I became chair of CARL because when I moved to Rumney my personal circumstances changed from being relatively comfortable to totally poor, and the only free place I could go to was the library.
“When I heard that they were closing it I knew I had to get involved to try and stop it. I never dreamed from that start I would be a founding trustee of Rumney Forum and having signed a 99-year lease on the building. It’s lifechanging and so exciting”.