I was disturbed to read that once again the future of Batley Library is under discussion.
Surely we have been here before. Last time around the proposal was to vandalise the building’s interior, transfer council services from the town hall and presumably put the latter on the market.
This time we have the same thing only in reverse – sell off the library building and run the service from the town hall!
I know it will be argued that if the plan goes ahead the library building will still be there, but I have grave concerns about the idea and so should the council.
Who will buy the building? To what use will it be put? Will the new owner of the building be able to maintain it to a high standard, bearing in mind its listed status?
What about the art gallery? Once in decline, but now flourishing thanks to the efforts of one dedicated member of staff; will this move too? And what happens if nobody is interested in buying? I wonder if the council realises how controversial such a move will be.
The library is a landmark building dominating our unique market place. People may recall that several years ago there was a plan to close Gomersal Public Hall, another historic building in North Kirklees.
Such was the public outcry then that the proposal had to be abandoned. One hopes this will be the case on this occasion. I, for one, will certainly be involved in any campaign to keep the library council-owned.
Only last year there was a so-called public consultation to establish what people wanted from their library service. Well, what we want is the excellent service we have always had, run from the building designed for the purpose.
While some of our public buildings may be underused, the library is not one of them. Nor would be the town hall were it not for the community building at the bottom of the market place. This should never have been built as there was, and still is, no need for it.
All the services therein could be based in the town hall and the adjacent old court house.
So let us not endanger our heritage buildings – rather we need to dispose of this white elephant.
Former Batley District Librarian.