Around 200 people gathered in Sheffield Town Hall to have their say at the public meeting about Sheffield Central Library yesterday.
This is the first time that residents have had the chance to question the plans for Central Library since the controversial proposal has been published.
Last month the Council announced Sheffield central library might be turned into to a 5-star hotel as a part of Chinese investment deal.
At the meeting Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Libraries, said it would cost £30 million to bring up the old building to modern standards, which the council cannot afford after cuts to its budget.
‘’This is a great opportunity to assure the beautiful, iconic building’s future in our city centre and a 5-star hotel would definitely create more jobs.’’
‘’Nothing agreed; no deal signed on the building; we can still say no at any time. We will consider all options.’
‘’We will work with all of you to design any future consultation before it starts.’’
He also promised that if the plans go ahead, there will be a new central library.
‘’But where?’’ Paul Davidson, a regular library user, asked where the location will be. The council answered they haven’t made a decision at this point but they will make sure that the new library will still be ‘’in the heart of the city’’.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, who also addressed the public meeting, said the library theatre may not feature in a redeveloped building but the council will consult with interested parties to relocate it.
Rebecca Gransbury, a 38-year-old book seller from Wybourn, has launched an online petition to save the library. She said she is not disagreeable that a 5-star hotel would bring economic benefits to the city, but she would like to see the Surrey Street building remain as a public space for Sheffielders.
“The library building is part of our heritage, and I would like to see it remain part of our heritage,” she said.
So far her petition has attracted over 10,000 signatures and the founder has handed it in at the council meeting on 7th December.
Coun Scott made it clear that this public meeting is just ‘’very first step of a very long journey.’’ More public meetings about the future of the library will be held in next few months. Contact sheets were handed out to the audience to offer monthly updates.
Due to the huge demand there will be a second public meeting on next Friday 16th December.