A FIVE year project to improve people's wellbeing by bringing together a range of social, health, leisure and cultural activities under one roof has been applauded by the Culture and Tourism Minister Lord Elis-Thomas AM, as he officially opened the public library within Knighton and District community centre on February 15.

Since December last year, the centre has become home to the library and operates as a successful partnership between the management committee and the library service, safeguarding the future of the service in the town. A hardworking team of volunteers support both the community centre and the library which is now used seven days a week by all age groups, and provides a warm and welcoming space for the members of the community to enjoy.

Funding from the Welsh Government Community Facilities Grant of almost £500,000, a capital grant through the Museums, Archives and Libraries Transformation Capital Grants scheme and a range of other grants and capital contributions from Powys County Council, Knighton Town Council, Reserve Forces & Cadets Association and Radnor Hills has resulted in the community hub becoming a reality.

The minister was welcomed to the library by Karen Plant, the chairman of the Knighton and District Community Centre Management Committee and the Leader of Powys County Council, Rosemarie Harris.

In declaring the site officially open Lord Elis-Thomas said: "I'm pleased to officially open Knighton library in an enhanced community hub. Libraries are important for local communities, and innovative partnership working, and shared facilities such as this hub, are one way to ensure that services are still available for local people, particularly in rural areas."

He added: "Co-location can bring benefits for all the services on one site and I hope this new facility will attract more people from the area to come and explore the library and benefit from all that it offers. I'm delighted that the Welsh Government is able to support libraries and that the Transformation Fund has helped Knighton library to create a vibrant and modern community literary hub."

After his address Lord Elis-Thomas enjoyed listening to the Llanfair Singers - an amateur choir of about 50 members and then had a tour of the building with the council leader, committee members and Kirsty Williams, Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Karen Plant, Chairman of the management committee said: "We had a vision of how and what a community hub should offer to residents and although it's been a long haul to get to this point, we are open for business and have a full programme of events and activities for all to enjoy."

Cabinet member for libraries, Councillor Rachel Powell said: "We know that Powys residents value the library service and feel it provides a central point for positive socialisation in local communities. When we consulted Knighton library users in 2016 about options to make savings, they were really supportive of a move to the community centre. As such, I'm delighted that this has come to fruition and I hope more residents make use of the excellent resource it provides. Our libraries offer various clubs, free access to computers, family history resources, advice, information, and, of course, lots of great books."