What next for Victoria Hall and Glossop Library?

 

The claim that both Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Borough Council agree that Glossop Library must leave Victoria Hall has sent shockwaves through the town. There has been no comment from any of the councillors or the council and no documentation has been made available to explain the costing of £3 million that councillors claim is need to repair the building. Equally perplexing is an executive officers recommendation dated 11th September 2015 that the Victoria Hall be registered as an "Asset of Community Value", partly on the basis that " It is realistic to think that the building or land will continue to be used in a way which will further the social well-being and social interests of the community within the next five years".

The councillor responsible was HPBC leader Tony Kemp. We have asked HPBC if they were aware that the library would be leaving Victoria Hall when the recommendation was made and will publish any reply received in due course.

Conspicuously absent from yesterday's proposals for a new library is a resurrection of DCC's previous plan for a library on the site of the old St Luke's building on Talbot Street. Despite its unpopularity at the time, and an abolsute lack of public consultation, the plan was very well developed and all necessary documentation had been prepared to apply for planning permission. In fact permission might have been granted (and maybe contracts signed) had it not been for inclement weather on the day of the last planning meeting before the May 2013 county council elections, which meant the planning committee could not visit the site and the decision was postponed. When Labour won control of DCC in May 2013 they shredded the plans for the new library with much publicity and pledged to keep the service in the Victoria Hall. Now it appears that, even if the original proposal for a new library was better than the ones proposed by Councillors Wilcox, Greenalgh and Wilcox, DCC would simply lose too much face if they reverted to a project planned by their political rivals. 

Artist's impression of the new library proposed in 2013

According to the SOUL (Save Our Unique Library) website £100,000 has been spent on repairs to the Victoria Hall in the last few months. An anonymous source told us that SOUL were as surprised as everybody else by yesterday's news. SOUL have been working for many years to keep the library in Victoria Hall and to return the building to full functionality.

The timing of the announcement was clumsy, apparently missing the Glossop Chronicle's deadline by a full seven days and no press release has been received by the Glossop Gazette or other news agencies that report locally. Consequently people found out about the letter sent yesterday to local residents by social media and so far none of the councillors who signed the letter have answered our questions about it or made any comment via other media. Councillor Damien Greenhalgh did publish something about Glossop library on his Facebook page on Tuesday, but it gave no warning of yesterday's bombshell.

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