COUNCILLORS faced a grilling from residents before approving a new £9.2m library and town centre regeneration.
Residents were angry that Calderdale Council proposed to close the borough’s Central Library in Halifax, build a new one at Square Spire and sell the council’s Northgate building for major town centre redevelopment.
The council says it would bring 230 jobs and £7.4m to the economy.
A campaign to save the library was launched and residents slammed the independent Ipsos MORI consultation.
After listening to objections Cabinet members unanimously agreed to the new library and sale of Northgate.
They also refuted some complaints, including:
John Hargreaves, chairman of Halifax Civic Trust, asked why Calderdale Council chose to “disregard the strength of public opinion throughout Calderdale to the proposed Square Spire site for the new library.”
Clr Tim Swift, leader of the council, responded: “The open survey was the opportunity for all to get involved but it would always attract those with strong feelings against. The representative survey shows the feelings of a cross section of the Calderdale population.”
Why put the expensive cost of a new library ahead of cheaper refurbishment?
Clr Tim Swift added: “The refurbishment isn’t necessarily the cheaper option. There would be the cost of the temporary relocation of the library and archive service, storage while refurbishment took place to consider.”
Stan Shaw asked why the views of 1,500 people were put ahead of the 20,000 who signed petitions to save the library.
He added: “The £57,000 was a waste of ratepayers money. Surely a ballot with a simple ‘yes or no’ is a better way”.
Clr Swift responded: “With the cost of a Calderdale-wide election you’re looking at a cost of more than £100,000.”
With difficulties on the high street, why build more shops?
Clr Ashley Evans said: “We need these anchor stores to support the small, independent and quirky stores, which can’t live without the other stores.”
Clr Tim Swift said Halifax was losing trade to neighbouring towns because they could not provide space larger retailers want.
It will now go before the full council for approval.