Objectors to the proposal to build the new library are now suggesting that the council has some sort of sinister, ulterior motive for the project, which it is keeping secret. ‘Give us the facts’ they demand. ‘Tell the truth’.
This very vocal single issue pressure group portray themselves as victims of an uncaring council, supported by undemocratic Cllrs. They dispute figures which have been made public, but give no evidence to back up their suspicions.
They also, very dangerously, attempt to distort the debate, and seem determined to ignore the fact that we have voted on a CONSULTATION, prior to any further library developments.
There is no agenda, and there are many facts which have already been communicated. Here are some:
Calderdale desperately needs to generate year-on-year income. A retail development on the Northgate House/Library site will help to generate that income, every single year. As a council, we have to find £55 million of savings over the following two years. This is going to mean cuts in services – all services – make no mistake. Business rate revenue from a retail development will help to alleviate this situation.
Yes, we will get more money for a site completely clear of all buildings, than for one which still has a substantial building on it. What is wrong, or sinister, or secretive about this?
The money generated by the sale of the Northgate House/Library site will go a substantial way to paying for the new library. We are a unique authority: we have opened two new libraries, closed none, and want to build a new one. Look at other authorities and see how many libraries are closing, before you criticize us.
The access issue is, in my opinion, bogus. I volunteer at the Square Chapel. Many people, of all physical abilities and ages, manage to get there. There is no disabled parking at the existing library, there will be at the new one. All new buildings have to be Disability Discrimination Act compliant.
I could go on, the facts in favour of the retail development, and new library are so many.
I would end by saying that, in my opinion, the existing library is not iconic. It is not an attractive building. It has no historical significance. Have a look at the Central Library in Manchester. That is an iconic building, built on the site of the Peterloo Massacre, when English troops turned on English people because they were carrying out a peaceful protest.
That was in the days of no democracy and brutal suppression of the people. That library represents beauty, tragedy, a painful past and a hopeful future.
In these enlightened times, we are doing our best to secure a hopeful future, both culturally and economically, for Halifax. Disagree if you must, but do not accuse us of underhand motives or dealings, when you have absolutely no justification.
Cllr Keith Hutson