I write relating to the splash in yesterday’s Courier following the CMBC statement about their plans to demolish the present Calderdale Central Library and Archive and build new, smaller facilities around a Grade 2* listed building near the Piece Hall.
Two years ago, over 16,000 people signed a petition opposing the then plans to demolish the Library. The then Council, although not convinced, listened and carried out its own consultation, which resulted in 95% of respondents selecting the option to leave the Library and Archive where they are.
A few months ago, it became apparent that the new administration, made up of Lib Dem and Labour Councillors, many of whom gained votes at the last elections on the back of their support for the DBOL campaign, were working on plans - yes you guessed it - to demolish the Library and Archive. (You couldn’t make this up . . .)
At that time the Courier carried out its own consultation asking, “Should Halifax (Calderdale) Central Llibrary be moved to make way for a Primark and other new stores?” This question could not have been put more fairly and squarely and resulted in 72 per cent saying NO, with an extraordinary response of nearly 9,000.
My question to Councillors Battye, Collins and Nash is, “What part of NO do you not understand?” The present consultation being carried out by CMBC is a sham, a fig leaf, a desperate attempt to give some legitimacy to the plans they are pushing ahead with, against the wishes of those who elected them.
They claim that these plans will bring new shops to Halifax and revitalise the town centre but no evidence has ever been tabled to demonstrate this.
To throw away the present excellent Library and Archive facilities, in the hope that maybe somebody will want the Northgate site, seems crazy on economic grounds, never mind the environmental crime of turning perfectly serviceable buildings into land fill - whilst spending millions to replace them.
There is little doubt that the centre of Halifax does need revitalising but why can nobody in CMBC see beyond retail?
The recent report by Mary Portas for the Government makes it crystal clear that retail is declining everywhere. Towns and cities need to be more imaginative in attracting footfall to their central area.
Why do CMBC cling to the notion that Halifax is going to buck that trend?
With local government elections loomimg in a few months’ time, I think the voters of Calderdale will know what to do.