Mailbag: Drains are blocked with loose stones

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Please could I bring to your attention a problem we are currently having on and around the St Peters Ave, Beechwood, Sowerby Bridge area.

The main road between Sacred Heart and Ryburn School has been resurfaced and small chipping stones applied about three weeks ago. Unfortunately the road covering has been done to such a poor standard - too many stones were used and they have not stuck to the tarmac. This has resulted in the drains on both sides of the road from top to bottom ,a total of 30 in all, to become blocked. The heavy rains we experienced on Wednesday afternoon had absolutely nowhere to go resulting in a torrent of water flowing the full stretch of St Peters Ave, breaching pavements and entering homes! We are living in fear that if it rains heavily again, and we are not in, our homes are at risk to water damage, which seems silly when the problem can so easily be remedied?Several neighbours including myself have contacted Calderdale Council on numerous occasions. However they just don’t seem to care, which is very annoying, as we have warned them that people’s homes are at risk because of their shoddy workmanship. The drains are capable of taking the rain water and usually cope, but because they are blocked and are full to the level of the road with stones they are unable to accept any water at all resulting in the rain cascading down the avenue.

Simon and Helen Taylor

Is there a firm offer on table?

Having followed the Northgate House/library debate for sometime I now feel it pertinent to mention one or two points that so far have not been aired. Firstly, when the building of Northgate House was proposed some thirty years ago its justification was that it would allow all council departments to be brought under one roof. Might one enquire as to when and if this might happen? Secondly, should it be the case that the building has deteriorated to such a point that refurbishment is no longer viable (and I very much doubt that this is the case) why has proper maintenance not been carried out over the years? Major faults do not appear overnight, and who is responsible? Is there a firm offer on the table with some sort of guarantee or will the site be gifted “ to a speculator for the princely sum of £1 as was the case with the nearby Broad Street carbuncle. Readers may remember the promises of “nationally known retailers with prestige names”. Who and where are they councillors ? Let private developers using money raised by their investors get on with the proposed Horton Street scheme and as the “summer weather” fades why not use part of the Piece Hall courtyard for short stay parking ? This could increase footfall and raise some revenue .

C. J. Horsman

Rochdale Road, Halifax

They could build around the library

At last, the movers and shakers behind plans to relocate the Central Library and Archives have found somebody outside the Cabinet prepared to write to Yoursay in support of their unpopular proposals. And, just like London buses, two come along at the same time, with letters so similar they have obviously been written in committee. Which tends to confirm stories we have been hearing about a group involving Philip Hellawell meeting weekly to plan how best to push the Cabinet’s agenda. Nothing wrong with that, you may say. Isn’t that what the Don’t Bulldoze OUR Library campaign does (with the opposite objective)? Indeed it is, but the significant difference is that we make no secret of our activities and when we publish material that has been discussed by the group, it always goes out under the DBOL banner. To get to the substance of the letters from Philip Hellawell and Robin Thomas is a bit difficult because there isn’t much substance. Just a reiteration of the mantra that the Northgate site cannot be developed whilst the CL&A occupy a small part of it. I’m afraid I don’t buy this. If it’s feasible to build a new CL&A around a 150 year old church spire, where’s the difficulty in building an exciting new shopping centre around a 30 year old library and archive? The new development will occupy space between the bus station and the library so, many of the 1000+ people visiting the library, every day, will walk through the new shopping centre to get there. Refurbishment of the library might include an alternative entrance, integrating the building with the new retail sites. I just do not accept that the present, well used and much loved library and archive building is a show stopper as far as developing the Northgate site is concerned. There has to be some other reason behind the blind assertions of the Cabinet and Council Officers that the library must go.

Tim Kirker

C. J. Horsman

Digital could spell end for printed book

Over the past few weeks there have been several excellent letters in favour of retaining the present library and archives. However there is one other point that has not been raised - books are going digital and the next ten years is likely to see the same changes in the way we read books and newspapers as we have seen in photography in the past decade. Amazon have just announced that for every 100 printed books they sell they are now selling 114 in digital format, mainly for their Kindle tablet. The developments that have already been announced mean that e-book readers will get more user friendly, more flexible (ie. roll up and put in your pocket) and cheaper. 
Within a few years the basic reader will probably cost little more than a quality hardback book. When 80 or 90% of books are read in a digital format borrowing books from a library will be very different: presumably we will download books in a digital format from ‘www.libraries.org’ or something similar. Will a library still buy conventional printed books or will it loan an e-book reader to those that need them? Obviously no one knows the answers to these questions but it is obvious that a library will be very different in 10 years time. It is worthwhile to think about the Kodak company before we imagine that we can predict what will be required.
 Surely no company knew the photography business better, and presumably was well managed, but it completely misjudged the impact of digital photography and the company is now in Chapter 11 (ie. in administration). 
To contemplate spending almost £10 million on a new library seems wrong and there is a big risk that we could finish up with a white elephant.

Brian Hill

Chance to attract big stores

It’s good to see more balance in the debate about developing and securing the future of Halifax’s town centre. Philip Hellawell and Robin Thomas (YourSay, August 17) sum up the arguments excellently. Many years ago now when the Woolshops Centre was built people complained that it failed to attract the really big stores. Now at long last there is a chance to put that right. This means moving the Library, as well as the council offices. Calderdale no longer needs Northgate House. But as a vital community and educational resource, the library and archives are proposed to move to a new, modern, fit-for-purpose building attached to the Piece Hall. With its regeneration now looking near-certain to go ahead the architecturally iconic Piece Hall should be reborn as a national venue and attraction.

How right that this should also be the gateway to the local centre of books, learning and history which is our library! That will make room to attract the really big retailers making sense of the space between Woolshops and Broad Street Plaza and making our town centre competitive. Extra visitors will spend money in other local shops as well as using Broad Street and experiencing the whole unique experience which is Halifax with its historical buildings including the Borough Market as well as the Piece Hall. It will also give thousands of locals easy access to stores for which they would otherwise have to travel elsewhere. To say we do not need this is to give up on our town. Perhaps those who say “don’t bulldoze our library” are those who oppose any change, however positive, by making it sound negative. They have made a lot of noise. I am an advocate of preserving our architectural heritage. I am a member of local and national bodies that promote this. But I also think we need to see the bigger picture. We can’t keep everything. The existing library building may have been a rare example of half-decent modern architecture locally at the time it was built. But now we have a chance to replace it with something better and build new things that will breathe new life into our town. For goodness sake let’s not throw away that opportunity. Let us, as a town, respond in a positive way to the current consultation.

JS Waring

Manor Drive, Halifax