Victory! The library is to stay

Save our library: Julia Smith signs a petition for campaigner John Hargreaves in 2009's protest
Save our library: Julia Smith signs a petition for campaigner John Hargreaves in 2009's protest

COUNCIL leaders have given the clearest indication that Halifax Central Library and archives are staying put.

Renewed talk about demolishing nearby Northgate House and building more shops had revived speculation that the library might have to move.

But Calderdale Council’s economy and environment spokesman Barry Collins told the cabinet that its demolition was not on anyone’s agenda.

The news will come as a huge triumph for hundreds of campaigners who fought to save the library with a massive campaign in early 2009.

Coun Collins stated: “Metro is assessing the future of the bus station with a view to modernising, realigning and perhaps moving it slightly, and we know millions needs spending on Northgate House.

“But there are no plans, offers or drawings, only an open debate on the future of the Northgate area,” said Coun Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden).

He went on to say: “Any potential developer will be clearly told that they will have to work around the library and archive.”

Conservative group leader Stephen Baines said: “Eighteen months ago the Conservative Cabinet received thousands of signatures in support of the library.

“We listened to the people then and that is why we made a decision that it must be preserved, refurbished and improved.”

Councillor Baines (Northowram and Shelf) said a customer first base could be set up in the building to help people access council services and expand its use.

“Northgate House is no longer fit for purpose and the cost of refurbishment far exceeds the value of the property. Council staff employed there could be relocated in other premises around the town centre.”

He said he backed the idea of more shops to boost the town centre.

“We should also look to relocate the Royal Mail sorting office and move the bus station underneath a retail development, putting escalators in to bring commuters up to shop- floor level.

“That would create space to build new leisure facilities – a swimming pool and possibly a sports centre, adjacent to the bus station and next to the expanded shopping area.”

He said that could replace North Bridge Leisure Centre and allow the Sainsbury supermarket to expand.

“Add all of this to the leisure experience that will be Broad Street, with its mix of hotel, restaurants and cinema, plus the rejuvenated Piece Hall and Halifax could become the destination of choice.”

Halifax MP Linda Riordan said she was delighted the library appeared to be safe.

A public meeting will be held at the Bear Cafe in Todmorden tonight, at 6pm, to campaign to prevent any library closures.

Organiser Steph Booth said: “It is our right to have a library and our duty to protect it.”

Over the weekend a series of protests were held all up and down the UK to stave off library closures.

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