‘I thought I was voting to consult on location’ - Another councillor misled over library vote

ANOTHER senior councillor has admitted she was misled over the public consultation vote on Halifax’s new library plans.

Helen Rivron backed a last minute amendment tabled at the council meeting on December 7 to set in motion a 12-week consultation process.

But it has emerged the consultation covers only what the new library might contain - and not where it is to be built.

Asked whether that is what she thought she had voted for, Coun Rivron said: “No, it wasn’t”.

“The exact wording might be open to interpretation but the purpose was clear. If all we were looking for was a consultation on the details of the new development there would have been no point in amending the cabinet resolution,” said Coun Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) who chairs the council’s community services panel.

Other councillors have also said they were misled over the consultation arrangements and thought it would involve seeking views on the proposal to build the library and archive by the Piece Hall.

According to the council’s Liberal Democrat leader Janet Battye the council’s administrative HQ, Northgate House and the library site must be cleared to make way for retail development, and that was what had been agreed. “We are being open and honest about this whole process.

“The council is working hard to make Halifax an attractive town centre and the proposals are part of a much bigger idea, which will include the sale of the Northgate House, the library and archive site to make way for a new retail development.

Coun Battye said: “There’s a lack of large retail units in Halifax because there are no sites large enough – due mainly to the high number of heritage buildings and level changes within the town centre.”

The council consultation about what the new library should contain runs until March 12.

Members of the “Don’t Bulldoze Our Library” campaign have described the public consultation process as “a sham, a fig leaf, a desperate attempt to give some legitimacy to the plans councillors are pushing ahead with, against the wishes of those who elected them”.

“To throw away the excellent library and archive in the hope that maybe someone will want the site, seems crazy economically, never mind the environmental crime of turning perfectly serviceable buildings into land fill – while spending millions to replace them,” said campaign coordinator Tim Kirker.

l What do you think? Should councillors have known what they were voting for when they voted on the library? Were they misled - or incompetent? E-mail us: yoursay@ halifaxcourier.co.uk