Feelings remain strong over library move plan
PROTESTERS took to Burton town centre at the weekend over controversial plans that could see the town’s library move to a new location.
Around 50 people joined the Save Our Market group for the protest in the Market Place over proposals to shift the library from its current building off High Street into the historic Market Hall.
This would mean traders moving out to elsewhere in the town. The plans have been put forward by the Burton Town Deal Board, which has successfully bid for £22.8 million to spend on projects aimed at improving the town and attracting more shoppers to boost the economy.
The library plan would involve the current building closing and making way for a marina-style development. Campaigners do not want to lose the current library or Market Hall.
Those promoting the plan, which would cost £7.3 million, say it would secure the future of the Market Hall and attract more people into the heart of the town.
However, the group has contested this, claiming the library is one of the most popular in the county.
One of the protesters, Andy Price, said: “It’s been fantastic to see how many people have turned up and it does show that we’ve got some passionate people here in Burton. It’s a really good turnout.
“There is a lot of opposition here and I do believe our county council should listen to the public more before they make decisions like this going forward.”
Ellie Mays, who was also protesting, said: “People have very strong opinions as they love the Market Hall and want to keep it for its intended use.”
She added live music and boxing events in the hall had proved a big success and there was also an opportunity for artisan markets and crafters to sell their items there.
The library, she said, was also perfectly located where it is, with plenty of parking and people using it after going to the leisure centre.
Ellie added: “I am sure a lot of hard work has gone into the planning but they have given us one option and there’s no choice. It would be nice to have an option B and C. It’s a stunning building and I would love to see artisan stalls like you get everywhere else. The answer is to encourage different and new traders. This will bring people in as it’s something different.”
Ben Robinson, chairman of Burton Town Deal Board, said: “I was unable to accept the invitation from Richard Grosvenor (the former council leader who opposes moving the library) and his colleagues to attend their protest meeting. In my response to Richard Grosvenor I explained that I had a community event prior to our home match against Gillingham but in any event I would not accept the invitation as there have been numerous opportunities for members of the public to express views on all the projects that have been successful in gaining in principle approval from the Government as well as opportunities to send in views online. “There was also a public meeting held at Pirelli Stadium in August and so there have been many opportunities for members of the public to see the plans first hand on display at different locations and talk face-to-face with council staff.”
Mr Robinson added: “The board has said many times that they are willing to listen and appreciate all points of view but there is a well laid out and transparent procedure for doing this and everyone has had the opportunity to be involved.
“I am more than happy to meet any members of the public with whom I have not spoken to about the projects and they can call me on the Burton Albion number and arrange to pop down to the Pirelli Stadium and I would be happy to see them.”
He continued: “Can I also repeat that simple opposition to the proposal does not get us anywhere and we have to be mindful of the longterm future of the Market Hall and library services have to be safeguarded and if this proposal is rejected then the future of both will be in jeopardy.”