Halifax library could cost ‘about £8 million’

BUILDING a new library in Halifax could cost about £8 million - much less than the £12 million some people have been predicting, Calderdale Council Cabinet was told.

The council’s Lib-Lab coalition wants to replace the Central Library and Archive, at Northgate, with a new building at the bottom side of the Piece Hall.

Until now, they have avoided revealing the price tag because it might have influenced the public consultation process.

But the two questionnaires have now been scrapped and public consultation will not begin again until after the council elections in May.

It was against that background that the council’s economy and environment spokesman Coun Barry Collins finally revealed how much the new building might cost.

“It is likely to be in the region of £8 million, depending on exactly what it contains, but it will certainly not be £12 million,” he said.

Councillor Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) was responding to string of questions about the council’s ill-fated consultation system.

He said a great deal had been learned about the way questionnaires had been put together and the council would look at the consultation process in great detail before it was relaunched.

Inspections have shown that as much as £6 million would have to be spent on the old library to bring it up to modern standards rather than demolishing it and nearby Northgate House to make way for retail development.

Liberal Democrat leader Janet Battye said Northgate House would eventually be closed but in the meantime the office block and library were being maintained “to basic health and safety standards.”

The cabinet was asked why designs for the new library were commissioned before users had been asked if they wanted a new library or the existing building to be restored.

Councillors were also asked about what would happen to the responses from the original questionnaires.

Councillor Battye (Calder) said she would provide details about the cost of the design work and the condition of the Square Chapel Spire which stands immediately next to the proposed library site. The responses would remain on file.

The council’s party group leaders will decide how the new consultation process is to be carried out.

It will begin in June and last for 12 weeks and will have “independent oversight.”

The cabinet will make a recommendation on the future of the library and archive to the council meeting on September 27.