Nicola originally intended to stand as a Labour candidate but missed the application deadline so stood as an independent instead. She thinks, however, that it worked out for the best. "I'm glad I didn’t because it's a Labor run council that's closing everything and at the end of the day it doesn’t look very good, does it?" Like Melanie and June, Nicola understands that austerity ultimately comes from Westminster, but the failure of the local council or Welsh Government to properly fight back has had a huge effect.
"Westminster cuts back; Welsh Government cuts back; then local authorities. So it's just a knock on effect," Nicola says with exasperation. "What they don’t seem to realise" June says "is the impact it's had on people. You know, real people living up here"
"We're Invisible," says Melanie, "they don’t care."
"We’ve got a beautiful valley, people are proud of the valleys. But what the Tory Government have done... " she pauses for a moment before continuing, "I know the money comes from the Tory Government, but it's the Labour Government [in Wales] as well. I got faith in none of them. Not Jeremy Corbyn, none of them. A lot of people will say that. They’ve turned their backs on us." On the subject of national politics, I ask if Brexit will make things even harder.
Nicola sighs: "I just look at it [Westminster] every day and I think it just gets worse and worse. It will have a knock on effect but to be honest, there’s not much more they take from us up here." Melanie agrees: "Ninety nine percent of people in this valley don’t care about Brexit. It’s just survival up here." In fact even the prospect of crashing out of Europe without a deal - something described as a catastrophe by most politicians - is not what worries people here.
“I'm absolutely petrified of the roll out of universal credit," Melanie tell us. The controversial benefit change is yet to hit Cymmer, but Melanie has no idea how she will cope when it does.
"I'm not very computer minded," she admits. "I think I can do it, but I’d have to do it for myself, I’d have to do it for my disabled son and I’d have to do it for my mother. Because how do they expect my seventy eight year old mother to do these computer things?" She’s on housing benefit and council tax benefit - she’d have to do it. I’ll have to do it. I’ve got a son with autism. How is he supposed to do it?"
I ask Melanie what would happen to her if she fell victim to the notorious five week wait before receiving any payment under Universal Credit. "Well, I'd be in the food bank," is her blunt response. And many others, it seems, would have to join her.
Despite this, Melanie still holds out some hope that Universal Credit will never reach these valleys. "I hope here will be the last to roll out," she says. "And by then it will be a different government and they might have done away with it." Given the scale of the political crisis we are in, this may be closer than it seems. But in the meantime people here are not giving up. The trustees at the library are now trying to team up with other groups from the area to get a bigger grant that they could share. There is no guarantee that this will happen though, and much will depend on money coming from the wind farms, but it is the best hope they have got in the circumstances.
"We just seem to be fighting all the time," Melanie says.
This fight will continue into the future whatever happens. But what shape it will take is impossible to predict. The sense of disillusionment and even isolation has burrowed deep into people's consciousness. Across the channel in France, burning anger over regional inequality and poverty has exploded on to the streets in recent weeks and led to huge disruption. But a concoction just as potent as that which is driving the ‘Yellow Vests’ movement in France exists in Britain. Its consequences are not yet known, but it could prove to be far more dramatic than a few broken windows.
*Shortly prior to publication, I phoned the library and spoke to June. The judicial review into the closure of the school had just been heard. Their case was not upheld and the school is due to close this Summer. Joan was furious, but wanted me to specifically mention how brilliant the teachers and staff had been in supporting the children, and how outstanding the school's head, Gavin Groves, had been throughout the campaign.