A 2,000-PLUS strong petition objecting to Vale library changes was presented to the Vale Council – hours before councillors told residents no volunteers would mean closures.

Councillors said groups would need to express interest and produce business plans to establish community-led libraries in Dinas Powys, Rhoose, Wenvoe, St Athan and Sully.

The interest would need to be lodged before May 18, with the plan put together before July, decision-makers announced at their community cabinet meeting on Monday, March 9.

Earlier in the day Unison and library staff gathered outside the Civic Offices to present Vale Council leader, Cllr Neil Moore and deputy leader, Cllr Stuart Egan with a 2,286-signature petition opposing proposals which also include reducing security at Barry library and opening hours at selected libraries.

Barry library will reduce its hours by 12 hours to 48 hours, Penarth by 10 hours to 43 hours, and Cowbridge and Llantwit Major reduce by 9.5 hours.

Paid staff would also be reduced.

Unison said it was trying to protect libraries, claiming measures could lead to the service becoming ineffective, which would be detrimental to communities across the Vale.

But the Vale Council said it still needs to make £25m of savings over the next three years and the changes were aimed at protecting the services..

Cllr Neil Moore said the authority was trying to prevent closure with a different approach to the facilities’ working and the libraries would be threatened without public support.

He said: “We will have no alternative but to close them, but we don’t want to do that. I think it’s reasonable and I hope people will volunteer and come forward. This is not something we do lightly.”

But unison last week also slated the authority for publicly releasing its decision details days before the decision was due to be made in cabinet.

Gillian Southby, Unison libraries representative in the Vale, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people across the Vale who have signed the petition to save library services.

“Libraries are far more than just a book loaning service these days. They provide internet access for many people who otherwise wouldn’t have online access, they provide educational support across all ages, and many libraries facilitate local community groups to run activities.

“The council has been trying to assure people that they will still have access to high quality library services, but unfortunately we cannot see how they can deliver on this promise.

“Services such as these cannot be run by volunteer groups – it would simply fall apart. The residents of the Vale of Glamorgan deserve to have an efficient and professionally run library service and that can only be achieved through appropriate funding and staffing.”

She called on the Vale Council to rethink its library plans and said the council had published misleading information about the authority’s library service ahead of its own timetable.

She said: “The council’s announcement has caused chaos amongst both the residents in the Vale and members of staff currently employed to provide council services.

“Residents have already been into libraries across the Vale demanding to know what is going on with their library services, but library staff are equally as shocked at the announcement.

“Library services cannot be run effectively by volunteers. Many hard working and dedicated library staff would lose their jobs in the process.”

Vale Council cabinet member for adult services, Cllr Stuart Egan, said: “Unfortunately, the date for cabinet consideration of proposals about the future of the library service had been inadvertently omitted from the statement on our website. This was addressed as soon as it was brought to our attention.

“All library staff attended face to face briefings prior to the publication of this statement at which the decision making process and timescales involved were clearly communicated. Library staff were also sent a link to the full report which was available on the council’s website prior to publication of the statement. We do not accept that we have misled staff and library users.”