Library consultation report is not a clear support

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You and your readers are aware of my interest in the future of the present Calderdale Central Library and Archives.

Over the last few days I have been able to see and hear more of the debate, some of which centres on the question of the conclusions which can be drawn from the Ipsos MORI report. This report, as I read it, offers evidence from (what is claimed to be) a representative sample of Calderdale residents. On the basis of this, the Courier reported (2 November) that “ … Calderdale Council’s Labour leader Tim Swift and deputy leader Janet Battye (Lib-Dem) said the results of the third round of public consultation showed clear support for redevelopment”. It is questionable that this conclusion can be drawn from the Ipsos MORI report alone. My unease arises from a more general point: the assumption that survey percentages should be given a different and special status by comparison with other evidence. Evidence comes in many forms. The Ipsos MORI consultation is only one, and is a snapshot at a particular point of time. On the question of the future of the Central Library and Archives there are other sources which have accumulated over several years. Among these are petitions; letters to the newspapers and to councillors; the opinions of others who do not live in Halifax but share a concern for its heritage and its future. In reaching a decision, all need to be considered, and this task is not easy. Even then, uncertainty about the future will remain. As an outsider (but one who has an affection for Halifax), I do not think the conclusion that there is now “clear support” for the redevelopment is defensible.

Tony Weekes

Co-chair, Centre for
 Progressive Economics, Belfast