Round three of the quiz to find out if people really want a new library and archive in Halifax is now underway - previous council-run opinion polls having been seriously “flawed”.
Calderdale Council hopes this time around that a majority will back its proposal to demolish the library at Northgate, to create more space for shops.
One of the country’s most reputable research companies, Ipsos Mori, has been appointed for a fixed fee of £48,050 to try to ensure that the latest consultation is as “impartial and independent” as possible.
But critics say it remains a one-sided process which ignores the simple question about whether people want the existing library to stay put. They will be collecting another petition to support their argument for retaining it, at the library between 10am and noon on Saturday.
“The questionnaire and supporting material have cleverly wrapped the main question up in all sorts of red herrings about the future of shopping in Halifax. In addition, it makes it clear that previous consultations, and presumably previous petitions, will not count, so we must do it all again,” said organiser Tim Kirker.
Ipsos Mori this week began sending questionnaires to a random sample of 5,000 homes which need to be returned by the end of August. An on-line questionnaire is also available at www.ipsos-mori.com/YourCalderdaleYourFuture and copies are being made available at the library, Halifax Town Hall and the reception at Northgate House.
Spokesman Graham Keilloh said interviews had also taken place with a random group of residents and interested parties including businesses, library users and campaign groups.
The consultation results will be published in November, when councillors hope to reach a decision on plans for a replacement library beside the Piece Hall and how it will be liked to further town centre improvements, including the demolition of its admin HQ, Nothgate House.
Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan has urged everyone interested in the future of the town to fill in the questionnaires.
*At least 1,000 people visit the Central Library every day.
Bulldozing it and nearby and Northgate House would create space for retailers employing up to 230 staff, according to independent property agent DTZ.
This would be worth an estimated £7.47 million to the local economy every year and increase the business rates revenue that the council can use for local services.
The 2009 Retail Needs Assessment shows that some retailers want bigger shops than are available and so they do not open in Halifax.