At a meeting of the CMBC Cabinet, the subject of the proposed third consultation about the future of the Central Library and Archives, and plans for town centre development, was on the agenda.
Many people opposed to moving the CL and A, including members of Halifax Civic Trust and the Don’t Bulldoze OUR Library (DBOL) campaign went along to ask questions and to pass comments on the paper before the meeting - Central Library and Archive Consultation - Report of the Director for Communities (available on the CMBC website). (Incidentally, it is a credit to the present administration that it is so easy for anybody to attend these meetings and have the opportunity to speak.)
During the discussion, some members of Cabinet seemed to be very dismissive of any views expressed from the DBOL supporters on the grounds that, by our own admission, we are a single issue lobby group. By implication, therefore, we must be at best indifferent, or at worst opposed, to all change or progress relating to the well-being of Halifax town centre. Nothing could be further from the truth.
DBOL is an ad hoc group of people who share the view that the present CL&A ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. We also fail to see why the town centre cannot be developed without knocking down perfectly serviceable buildings.
We welcome the planning approval given to the Horton Street development - why not get this, and Broad Street, up and running before letting the developers loose on the CL&A? We all come from a variety of backgrounds and professions, and have a variety of views and opinions on other subjects - including politics.
We all share an interest, however, in seeing Halifax develop and prosper and this interest expresses itself in a variety of ways. Some of us are active in Halifax Civic Trust .
Some of us lead Calderdale Heritage Walks, encouraging visitors to Halifax and Calderdale. Some of us are heavily involved in the newly-formed Calderdale Industrial Museum Association. Others are active members of Halifax Antiquarian Society, or Halifax Choral Society. These are all voluntary activities which result in enhancing what Halifax has to offer to its inhabitants and to its visitors.
So yes, DBOL is a single issue group. (As somebody said after the Cabinet Meeting, the clue is in the name.) But please don’t believe the spin from some members of Cabinet that our single issue is the only issue any of us pursues, and that our objectives are only negative.
Others criticise us because we are self-appointed and represent no-one. Again, this is true, but the fact remains that we continue to be able to muster more support for our views than the Cabinet can muster - with all the machinery of government and parties at their disposal.
It seems to be a common trait amongst politicians that when they are failing to win the argument, they turn their fire on their opponents. The more flak we get from certain quarters, the more confident we are that we are winning the real debate.