A TOP research company will carry out a consultation which could shape the future of Halifax town centre.

And it’s the second consultation about plans for the town centre after Calderdale Council revealed it would leave and sell off its Northgate House offices.

Northgate House is the council’s main base in the town and it puts the future of the town’s library, which neighbours it, in an uncertain position.

Council leader Clr Tim Swift says that the importance of the issues at stake means it is crucial that the consultation process is conducted openly and without bias.

Clr Swift said: “Ipsos MORI has extensive experience of working with local and central government, seeking people’s opinions to ensure they have a real say in the delivery of public services.

“This consultation is one of the most important the council has ever undertaken, so it is right that we appoint an organisation with a reputation for the highest standards of fairness and integrity.”

The council says Ipsos MORI will use its independent status to ensure that the process is conducted fairly and without bias.

The council has already agreed that it will be vacating and disposing of its Northgate House offices, so a decision on the location of the Central Library and Archive is vital to the future plans for the town centre.

Calderdale Council is proposing a new library at Square Spire with plans for a shopping area at its current Northgate site.

Northgate House would cost £14.5m to refurbish, with the library and archive service needing a further £6m to bring it up to modern day standards.

A consultation was launched in January but was hit by criticism, so Ipsos MORI will now work on a detailed consultation.

Ipsos MORI says a questionnaire will be sent to a random sample of homes across Calderdale in early July.

But everyone can access it online and at locations throughout the borough, including libraries and council offices. Results will be published in November, when the council hopes to reach a resolution both on its town centre plans and the future of the library and archive.

Rose Neville, associate director in Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute says: “This is people’s opportunity to have their say on a major issue.

“We want to ensure that the consultation is conducted without bias and that we gather the broad range of local opinion”.