City Council ‘needs to be held to account’ in providing a better Central Library

Nottingham Central Library. (Photo: PROJuliaC2006)

Campaign groups say Nottingham City Council will have to be ‘held accountable’ to its promises for a better Central Library after approving its sale to a developer.

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Nottingham Civic Society, both said they hope any new library will be accessible and adaptable following yesterday’s decision.

The Council gave the go-ahead for the library building on Angel Row to be sold to Henry Boot Developments Limited, a project development firm.

Their previous work in Notts include The Axis, which houses Alea Casino, and The Square in Beeston which holds a Wilko, B&M Bargains and Pure Gym.

Sandeep Mahal, director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, said the move is a positive thing, as the current library is “not very adaptable and tired-looking”.

“There’s an opportunity for a new space and something new to offer,” she said.

“We have an opportunity now for what should be offering performance space and activities, and for the council to re-imagine what a 21st Century library should look like.”

Sandeep added that while there’s some concern over the plans, there’s a potential for a temporary library if an appropriate site is found.

She said: “Given the footfall and the people who access the library, the council are in no position to not offer a central library, and of course it needs to be accessible.

“In times of austerity, other places have cut back on their libraries but we haven’t done that- there are lots of things to be positive about.

“But we do need to hold the council to account to make sure they do deliver on their promise.”

Hilary Silvester, chair of Nottingham Civic Society, agreed but also suggested the council’s decision may be “sidelining books, learning and people”.

“The council need to get plans in place”

She added that there is a rich collection of archives in the Local Studies part of the library, which a lot of people use for family history, historical subjects and research.

“It’s an important resource and we wouldn’t want to see it put away for a long time,” she said.

“The council need to get plans in place with the library before they give it away.”

The City Council are still in the early stages of planning what will happen to the library, and where it will be based after the site is bought.

Hilary said: “It’s a central library and needs to remain central- libraries are quite at risk, and if it’s inconvenient there’s a great temptation not to go.”

She also voiced her concerns over the offices being put in its place, and how they will fit into the city centre’s historical look.

“It’s an important area of the city, with The Bell Inn and Bromley House, and its low skyline reflects Market Square and the look of the city.

“The council have got to be held to account and give proper details- quite honestly, I’d prefer to keep it as a library.”

Councillor Jon Collins, leader of the city council, told the Nottingham Post on Monday: “The sale of this site is another move toward a better city centre in Nottingham, with top end, attractive office space and the opportunity for a more modern and attractive central library.

“We’re very early in the discussions about what this will look like but have been impressed with the plans Henry Boot have put forward and their previous work across the city, and look forward to working with them.”

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