LIBRARY users and a conservation body united in protest against plans to demolish a town’s library.
Residents gathered yesterday outside Halifax Central Library and Archives in a last-ditch attempt to save it from the bulldozer.
Calderdale councillors want to spend up to £10m on a new library next to Square Chapel and replace the existing library with shops.
Protest group Don’t Bulldoze Our Library, backed by Halifax Civic Trust, want the existing library to be refurbished.
A council report says the current library is in poor repair and costs too much to run and refurbishment would not be cost effective.
The authority says the retail development will create jobs and generate money.
Councillors have pointed to a consultation survey which showed that 39 per cent of 1,496 people questioned were in favour of a new retail development on the site of the existing library.
Critics have claimed that the survey was flawed and previous consultation had shown that thousands of residents wanted to library to remain where it is.
A petition organised by Don’t Bulldoze Our Library attracted almost 17,000 signatures.
Protester John Hargreaves, chairman of Halifax Civic Trust, said the Northgate site was “conveniently accessible”.
“We are protesting against the unnecessary demolition of the finest combined, purpose-built archive, library and meeting room facilities in West Yorkshire, which have not yet been open for 30 years and which remain fit for purpose.”
Dr Hargreaves added: “We are not opposed to appropriate retail development within the town centre but we are opposed to the loss of a valued cultural asset occupying a relatively small section of the Northgate site.”
He said the proposed new library represented a “downsizing of the facilities” and would be in a less convenient location.
The council’s cabinet committee has already backed the plan for a new library and the scheme will go before the full council at a meeting next Wednesday.