On a recent visit to the central library, I was curious as to what refurbishment work was needed to bring the building up to standard and how on earth this could cost £6M. There was little evidence of any refurbishment being required.
Some redecoration, a few more computers and maybe new floor covering would be beneficial but these are hardly essentials at this time of austerity.
Members of the library staff were consulted but they were unable to throw much light on the situation.
Two possible items were mentioned however: Firstly, the library shares a heating system and other services with Northgate House and if the latter was ever to be demolished, a new boiler and possibly other systems would be required for the library. If this suggestion was indeed true, then it is totally wrong to include these costs in library refurbishment costs.
They are obviously Northgate House demolition costs. Full marks should be awarded to someone for creative accounting but zero marks for trying to mislead the public.
A second suggestion was that any maintenance budget not used in previous years due to repairs being deferred, simply disappeared rather than remaining available to spend in later years.
In other words money required to maintain the library was used for other purposes. This still does not explain the seemingly massive amount of £6M but maybe this was the total amount budgeted for repairs but not used over the last 28 years. As others have pointed out, the public needs to be given the true facts.
There should be no further discussion regarding demolition of Northgate House or the library. The people of Calderdale have overwhelmingly made their feelings known that these facilities should remain where they are.
The pattern of retail sales in this country is changing and town centre stores are closing everywhere so another large retail development will not benefit the town.
The Piece Hall and its surrounding area can form a key part in the rejuvenation of the town. The Industrial Museum has a certain synergy with the Piece Hall. It would be desirable if the plot between the Industrial Museum and Square Church could be filled with other industrial heritage related development.
A public library is not one of these.