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Monday, 5 December 2011

Council Releases Information on New Central Library

From the Don't Bulldoze OUR Library campaign (DBOL)

After a month of prevarication, information on Calderdale Council's proposals for a new Central Library and Archive has been released.

This follows Freedom of Information requests made by Alan Shaw, a member of the Don't Bulldoze OUR Library campaign (DBOL), on 3 and 4 November 2011. Alan asked for information about the facilities to be provided in the new building, in order to substantiate the Cabinet's claim that the new facilities will be at least as good as the present.

The response, from a council official, is as follows:

In response to both of your requests:

The proposal to relocate the central library and archives will be considered by full Council on 7th December 2011.

Further work will now be undertaken to establish timescales and details of the proposal.

The answers to the above questions will not be available until these detailed proposals have been developed.

Set out below is an initial indication of the timescales for developing detail on the proposals for the new central library and archives:

By Spring 2012 - study for site near Piece Hall for the new library and archive

By Autumn 2012 - submit planning application for new library

Summer 2013 - construction begins on new library

Spring 2015 - new library and archives open

Here is proof, if proof were needed, that next week the full council will be asked to vote on a proposal to relocate the Library and Archive without being in possession of any of the detail on which to assess the proposal.

This is surely madness, and Councillors must reject the proposal. This view is supported by the unanimous decision taken on Thursday evening by the Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Panel, to ask Cabinet to hold proper consultations before putting the decision to the full Council.

DBOL's concerns remain that:

  • the space available for the new facilities is inadequate;
  • the new location will be less accessible than the present buildings, on the edge of town rather than in the centre;
  • there has been insufficient time for proper consultation over this proposal;
  • Councillors have been given insufficient information on which to base a reasoned judgement;
  • Cabinet has closed its collective mind to the preferable alternative of repairing and refurbishing the present excellent facilities - now making the ludicrous and unfounded assertion that the Library and Archives would need to be closed for two years to allow this;
  • the proposal is being driven by the needs of developers rather than the needs of Calderdale. 

The response above offers nothing to allay our concerns but rather reinforces them.

DBOL will be lobbying hard until the vote is taken, culminating in a mass lobby of the Town Hall from 5.15pm on Wednesday 7 December, before the Council meet to debate the matter at 6.00pm that evening. Contrary to some suggestions circulating from the Town Hall, the decision on Wednesday is not whether to carry out preliminary work on the proposal (Cabinet have already taken that decision) but whether to go ahead with the full proposal. Reversing such a decision would then be difficult, if not impossible.

The latest information we have suggests that Cabinet will try to bulldoze this proposal through with both Lib Dem and Labour Councillors being whipped in behind the policy. This could result in the crazy situation of members of the SSC Scrutiny Panel, who voted for the decision to be delayed, being forced to vote it through on Wednesday. Where do the voters of Calderdale figure in all these machinations?

If you share our concerns, come along and shout.


See also

Hebweb Forum - Central Library/Northgate House (Nov 2011)

Hebweb News - Central Library threat (22 Nov 2011)

HebWeb News - Don't Bulldoze Central Library (Jan 2011)

Hebweb Forum - Halifax Town Centre Regeneration (Feb 2011)

John Hargreaves' presentation on behalf of of the Halifax Civic Trust and Halifax Antiquarian Society (Jan 2011)

HebWeb News 2009 - Calderdale Central Library and Archive

Hebweb Forum - Demolition of Central Library and Archives building in Halifax (March-April 2009)

Don't Bulldoze our Library

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