Talking Politics: We need to listen to the electorate

The Piece Hall, Halifax.
The Piece Hall, Halifax.

Well, the deed is done. The much loved-library and archives building at Northgate is to be demolished, and replaced with an all glass airy and light structure at the side of the beloved Piece Hall.

Some councillors seem to think that this is what the majority of the Calderdale people have been waiting for.

An artistic impression of the new Halifax library

An artistic impression of the new Halifax library

Yet, there are a large number of people that see this as unnecessary, unwelcome and inappropriate.

At the Calderdale Council meeting the cabinet tried to make out it was taking a leadership role in this with its forward thinking, after receiving several petitions with over 20,000 signatures it decided to go with the Mori poll findings which relied on the response of 5,000 randomly picked households filling in a questionnaire - which only 1,496 responded to.

If the council had lots of money and the economy was growing at a reasonable rate I could understand the desire for this blue sky thinking.

But as we are in the depths of a recession why would the council now decide to borrow over £10 million to build this?

We are already borrowing £19 million to give to a trust to redesign the Piece Hall. We have received a lottery grant for £7 million to go towards the final cost.

But I feel most people who use the Piece Hall and the current library would have been happier with more maintenance and investment on the current sites. We were told that this investment will increase user numbers at the library and better footfall in the Piece Hall.

People will only use these facilities if there are things there to attract them. And this is where I think we have sadly let them down on both accounts.

We need to start listening to the people who elect us, and not to all these so called ‘experts’ and blue sky thinkers.