Mailbag: Open your minds and grasp chance

Northgate house: Northgate and the Central Library
Northgate house: Northgate and the Central Library

I would like to make an appeal to the people of Calderdale to open their minds as to what the real debate surrounding Northgate is about.

What it is not about is moving the library, closing the library or destroying any archives. What it is about is investing in the town centre so that we have a lively, vibrant, modern town centre fully compliant with the needs of the 21st Century and which will be fit for purpose for the younger generation in much the same way as our Victorian forefathers bequeathed much of the present town to ourselves. We have a unique opportunity here to put Halifax on the map and put the town in a position where it can compete with Huddersfield, Wakefield and Leeds. The imminent opening of the Broad Street centre on land where the previous buildings were demolished 50 years ago gives us a great starting point. The multi-million pound investment in the Piece Hall, news we have waited for for decades, is another crucial piece in the jigsaw. All we are now short of is a modern shopping development to complement Woolshops and link the shopping area with Broad Street - retention of the rather tired-looking library building would prove only a barrier to this vision. If current ideas are realised, we could see such as a new Primark, a relocated Next and an expanded Marks & Spencer filling the void currently occupied by Northgate House and the Central Library, which really would enable us to compete with our larger neighbouring towns. Of course, certain consumer items are increasingly being bought on-line, but any suggestion that people will start buying all their clothes on the internet rather than visiting stores to see the and try them on is ridiculous. Owners of one of main privately-owned stores in Halifax are totally in favour of this shopping development as it is seen as crucial to increasing the footfall into the town, without which existing shops may themselves have to close. If current plans are realised, we get a new shopping centre, a revived Woolshops, a transformed Piece Hall and a brand new library accessed through the Piece Hall. The laws of progress force change. We cannot stand still, we either move forward or backward and it is natural and right that all of us should progress. To people who really love our town, let’s move forward - what is there to be against?

Philip Hellawell

Brighouse Wood Lane

Brighouse

Pity we have to shop out of the area

As a relative newcomer to Calderdale, I enjoy my visits to Halifax but I have always considered that for any serious shopping, one would have to go to Huddersfield, Leeds or Manchester. This is a pity because a wide range of shops, especially in the area of fashion for women, brings people into the town, who then spend money in other areas, like restaurants and entertainment. As a result, there are more jobs, especially for young people and overall, there can be a degree of optimism and economic growth. For these reasons, I believe that the plans to re-locate the Library and Archive and to demolish Northgate House are sensible, and coupled with other exciting developments like the Piece Hall, will help to create a more dynamic Halifax. The new library will meet all current needs and will be easily accessible, while the addition of some big retail players will have a positive knock-on effect on other shops and services in the town. Compared with other buildings in the town, the existing library has no great architectural merit and will not be missed. I would therefore urge people who have the wider interests of the community at heart to support the above plans and to complete the MORI questionnaire in a positive way.

Robin Thomas

Sowerby Bridge

How will councillor divide time?

Your story regarding Cllr Fekri on the Courier website (14/08/12) makes interesting reading with two differing accounts of his defection from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. It also poses a number of questions: 1) It is not that long ago that the Courier reported Cllr Fekri’s intention to step down from his position as councillor in the autumn. I believe his family now lives in Turkey and that he spends much of his time with them. Has he now decided that he will stay on as councillor? How will he manage to spend time with his family and effectively serve the residents of the Calder ward? What do the Labour Party think he should do? 2) Given that Cllr Fekri says he is the same person with the same commitments as when he was a Lib Dem and, therefore, joining Labour represents no significant change in his political beliefs, are we to take it that there’s nothing to choose between Lib Dems and Labour locally and would the Lib Dem leadership like to comment on what differences there are, if any? 3) Cllr Fekri says he has resigned from the Lib Dems because he opposes the party’s participation in a Coalition with the Conservatives in national government. Yet, in Calderdale, the LibDems run the Council in an ‘Alliance’ with Labour, the party he has joined. Clearly, this former senior Liberal Democrat has concluded that the party, locally as well as nationally, serves no useful purpose. When did he reach this conclusion about his Calderdale colleagues and why? Councillor Fekri’s action has created more questions than answers and will have left many voters in Calder ward confused about who is to represent them and for how long and wondering about the quality of the representation they are likely to receive from Cllr Fekri. They deserve a clear explanation from him and from the Labour Party.

Charles Brickdale

(Chairman, Calder Valley
Conservative Association)

Nader with family when flood hit

I was saddened to hear the news about Nader Fekri, but the people I feel most sorry for in this affair are his wife and children. Here have been numerous discussions over recent months between the local party and Nader about what his family’s move to Turkey for a three-year period would mean about his council seat. Certainly initially, there was little debate that he would have to stand down – indeed I discussed the prospect of me being the candidate in a potential by-election with Nader (something which would not be practical for a variety of unrelated personal reasons). It’s only in recent months that the idea of remaining a Councillor in Calderdale whilst his wife and two young children remained full time in Turkey started to be floated as a prospect. The problems this could cause were only too obvious when during the recent serious flooding, rather than helping those residents and businesses affected Nader was with his family in Turkey. Remaining a Councillor would at the very least require a commitment to being in the UK three weeks out of four, and Nader seemed to accept that this is what would be required. But that could only have come at a massive price in terms of the impact on his marriage and family relationships. Effectively saying that continuing a political career at the price of leaving his wife to manage a full time job and two young children in a foreign country is not a choice I would ask anyone to make. And I told Nader that in fairly direct terms - My biggest regret in this whole affair is that I didn’t express myself more strongly. I regret Nader’s leaving the Liberal Democrats.
But I regret even more that a (albeit now former) friend is taking a decision that could have such a terrible consequences for his personal and family life.

Hywel Morgan

Lib Dem Candidate,
Calder ward

Pity roads can’t equal Games plan

I have spent the last couple of weeks watching our wonderful Olympic Games with their incredible organisation of transport and visitors around the capital. What a pity none of this rubbed off on the road traffic planners in Calderdale. I am talking about the major traffic disruption at Shelf Roundabout from Friday, August 10 to Sunday, August 12. By all means close all 4 approach roads but at least re-route the traffic with proper signage. 
There have been lost souls trying to get to Brighouse, buses stuck on narrow roads, holiday traffic confused, taxis making long detours and Shelf Hall Lane turned into the M1.

You may be brilliant at recycling but you are rubbish at redirecting.

Sally Jackson

Shelf Hall Lane

Shelf

Council will not help over parking

I totally agree with the article about one parking ticket a day would solve the problem of contractors and parking.And I have myself written to the paper, our councillors of which only one replied and the police and highways and no one cares. 
Someone will do something when a death occurs. But the simple answer is the council won’t raise a finger - they are the client

David Bray

Round Hill

Halifax