Minister is asked to step into library row

A GOVERNMENT minister has been asked to intervene in the council’s scheme for consulting people over plans for a new library in Halifax.

The council has “ducked out” of giving them a say on whether a new library is necessary or whether it should be built next to the Piece Hall, according to Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan.

As a result she has asked Greg Clark, Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, to “intervene publicly and instruct Calderdale Council to hold full and proper consultation, including the key question about whether the current library should stay where it is.”

The council says building a replacement library will avoid the need for expensive repairs and restoration, and along with the sale of its nearby offices at Northgate House, will create space for retail development.

Mrs Riordan asked the minister before Christmas about the need for councils to consult people on major infrastructure projects and he told the Commons it was vital they should engage with the community from the outset.

In her letter, Mrs Riordan said most councillors and members of the public took it at face value that one of the questions would be whether they wanted the library and archives to stay where they are.

“It was surprising to many people when details of the consultation emerged – no mention of whether people want the library to stay where it is – just an acceptance that the library is moving, and some rather bland questions about what people want to see contained within a new library building.

“Many people are now questioning not only the validity of the council minute, but also of the consultation itself,” she said.