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Library protest backed by 7,000

Batley History Group chairman and Susan White outside the library with protest petition forms.

Batley History Group chairman and Susan White outside the library with protest petition forms.

More than 7,000 people have backed a campaign to protect the Batley Library building.

A total of more than 7,300 signatures have been collected on a petition opposing any plans to move the library service into Batley Town Hall and sell off the iconic building and public clock – and more are still coming in.

Batley History Group, which organised the three-week campaign, will present the petition to councillors at next week’s Kirklees Council cabinet meeting.

History Group chairman Malcolm Haigh said there had been overwhelming anger and disgust all round the town about the rumoured library changes.

He said: “I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such outright opposition – people in Batley are totally disgusted at what has been suggested.

“And I would suggest that they won’t limit their opposition to simply signing petition forms.

“I reckon that any Batley councillor who votes for any such move, either now or in the future, will risk a backlash at election times.”

Mr Haigh praised history group members for their tireless work. “We have received forms from shops and supermarkets, pubs and clubs, churches and mosques, social groups, dance groups, acting groups and community projects,” he said.

“People have been astonished that anyone could even think of changing such a well loved and well used service in such a way and are particularly disgusted that anyone could even consider selling off such an iconic building as the Carnegie Library which was given to the people of Batley.”

He added that the building was also an important part of Batley market place’s scene, designated an outstanding conservation area, and said the collection of buildings made up one of the best town centres in the whole of Kirklees.

“The council has already damaged that perception and injured local trade by transferring the School of Art and Design out of town, putting the old Technical and Art College up for sale and deciding to close the public toilets, the only ones in the town,” he said.

“What public image will be given to visitors if For Sale boards are fixed on to the library building itself? What will that say about the town?”

*As the News went to press, a full council meeting was being held to discuss 2013/14 budget proposals.

Visit www.batleynews.co.uk for updates on the outcome of the meeting.

 

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