DBOL Statement on proposals for a new CL&A
Tuesday 11 June 2013
As the latest plans for the new Calderdale Central Library and Archive have been published, we have had several approaches from people asking what DBOL’s view is of these developments.
The Don’t Bulldoze OUR Library campaign was set up with the express purpose of convincing the people of Calderdale, and our elected representatives, that it made far more sense to retain, refurbish and upgrade the existing CL&A than to build a new one, on a site which is too small to accommodate all the services of a central library. (The new library will have 30%, and the new archive 40%, less floor area.) As yet no plans have been proposed for how services not accommodated by the new CL&A are to be dispersed across Calderdale.
The new CL&A will cost around £10m on today’s estimates, to be paid for by borrowing, leaving an annual interest charge of around £0.75m for future generations to find.
After more than three years of campaigning, our success has been mixed. We have clearly had the support of the people of Calderdale, as demonstrated by every means of polling that has been attempted. We have not, however, convinced our elected representatives who, once elected, cease to be representative.
We remain convinced that our stance has been correct. It has been backed by the majority of voters. It is vindicated by the plans now published. Calderdale does not need a new, smaller Central Library and Archive. Of course, the area between the Square Spire and the Industrial Museum is badly in need of redevelopment but it is not essential to put a new CL&A there to achieve this.
We have tried every means at our disposal to persuade CMBC not to do this but there is some unseen, unstoppable imperative driving it that is far more important than the views of voters.
As for the new proposals, they will, no doubt, offer a bright new CL&A, with lots of exciting, modern facilities. But our role has been to argue against this happening at all, not to discuss the detail of a plan we oppose.
Following a meeting of the Halifax Town team on the 20th February we have sent a letter to The Halifax Courier and copied it to members of the CMBC cabinet. Click here to read it.
We have made a formal complaint to the Chief Executive of Calderdale MBC over the Council’s decision on 28 November 2012 to proceed with plans to demolish and relocate the Calderdale Central Library and Archive. The complaint asserts that the briefing report presented by Cabinet to the Council was seriously flawed in three main areas.
First, the conclusions drawn by the Cabinet from the Ipsos MORI Consultation are not supported by a consideration of the full report, and rely on a partial assessment of the data.
Second, the Cabinet’s assumptions about what should be required in the new facilities are arrived at with the sole purpose of matching the facilities to the small space available between the Square Church Spire, the Piece Hall, the Piece Hall Extension, the Industrial Museum and Square Road. This results in the services having to be fragmented, on different sites, rather than centralised as now.
Third, there are serious flaws and omissions in the financial estimates tabled in the report, which make the option of refurbishing the present CL&A seem extremely expensive when compared with the cost of building new facilities.
The Coordinator for DBOL, Anne Kirker, said, “We are asking the Chief Executive to exercise her powers to review this decision to ensure that information presented to Councillors is balanced, accurate and complete. Many people find it incredible that building a new Library is no more expensive than refurbishing the old one. Our analysis of the Cabinet’s report exposes the serious flaws in it”
In the meantime, a letter has been sent to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking him to intervene in this matter (click here to read it). John Hargreaves, Chairman of Halifax Civic trust, and DBOL member, said, “This decision is crucial to the future of Halifax Town Centre and it is vital that such decisions are based on the fullest, most balanced analysis of all the available information, covering finances, operational efficiencies, as well public opinion. We will be raising these questions at the next meeting of the Halifax Town Team on 20 February.”
COUNCIL VOTES TO DEMOLISH LIBRARY/ARCHIVE
On the evening of Wednesday 28th November, Calderdale Council demonstrated its contempt for the opinions of the people of Calderdale by voting to demolish Calderdale Central Library/Archive and to replace it with a smaller building in a less convenient area with linked services needing to be split up.
It didn’t matter to those voting for the demolition that a 16,000 name petition, two 2-hour petition sessions, two public consultations and a newspaper poll have demonstrated huge support for keeping the current facilities where they are, refurbishing and upgrading them to meet current and future requirements.
What did matter instead were the selectively edited outcomes of a survey run by Ipsos MORI – a survey which DBOL has called into question due to its bias and lack of proper options.
This is not the end for DBOL – we will continue in our fight, so keep an eye out on this website for details of further action.
In the meantime, we would like to thank all of you who have supported our campaign so far, and encourage you to stay involved.