Trust describes plans for new library as “ill-judged”

Halifax Civic Trust has rejected council plans to build a new library next to the Piece Hall.

“It would be a costly mistake and would deprive the town of a much-valued, convenient, accessible cultural asset, which the community has clearly indicated it wants to preserve on the existing site,” said chairman Dr John Hargreaves.

The council’s Lib-Lab leaders say it could cost up to £6 million to modernise the library and archives at Northgate and a new building would boost the Piece Hall.

But Conservative councillors have severe doubts, the “Don’t Bulldoze Our Library” campaigners last week described the plan as ill-considered and now the civic trust says it is “ill-judged”.

Dr Hargreaves and civic trust secretary June Paxton-White have written a strong letter opposing the loss of the library.

“It is a popular facility in a modern, airy, attractive building, well situated at the heart of the town centre.”

They say that 16,000 people signed a petition in 2009 to prevent it being demolished.

“The rejection of such a strong expression of public opinion, reinforced in a succession of consultation exercises organised by the council and abandoning repeated public assurances that the current facilities would be safeguarded on their existing site, makes a mockery of the processes of democratic consultation and undermines trust in local politicians.”

The civic trust says moving the library to the edge of the town centre is a high risk strategy and ill-judged.

Most users access it from the bus station and older people will find the new location less convenient.

Plans for a shuttle bus are ill-conceived and the designs for the new building, as well as being significantly smaller, are unrealistic.

The trust also has concerns about building a huge retail store at Northgate in place of the library and council officers.

It believes this would be out of scale with the nearby streets and buildings in the town’s conservation area.

The council has declined to spell out what the new library and archives might cost.

But Conservative group leader Stephen Baines says he believes it could be almost twice that of restoring the existing library, which the council has put at up to £6 million.

The council is due to consider the proposals on December 7.

Campaigners are urging people to lobby the meeting, which begins at 6pm.