Agenda item

Member Question Time

Questions are invited from Elected Members about items on the Cabinet agenda. 15 minutes will be set aside for Member Question Time, if required.


Notice of any Member question must be given to the Monitoring Officer by midday Thursday, 2nd November 2023.


The following question was submitted in advance of the meeting by Councillor Carol Birchmore:


With regards to the following statement taken from the Radcliffe Regeneration, Interim Service Arrangements document, Section 4.3, page 3, being discussed at Cabinet this evening.


“An options appraisal was carried out looking at potential alternative locations for the library once the construction work on the Enterprise Centre commences. It has not been possible to identify a vacant building in Radcliffe that is large enough or at an affordable price to relocate the whole library to. Options around providing a portable building on the car park were investigated but there is a lack of availability of these buildings nationwide due to the current RAAC crisis in schools across the Country and the costs were unaffordable. The architect and developer will work up a series of options for the December 2023 Regeneration Board for the continuation of Library Services in conjunction with the Library Service during this period.”


This appears to suggest that the Council may withdraw the library service in Radcliffe rather than moving it into temporary accommodation to clear the existing Carnegie Library to make space for the Enterprise Centre.


Please can you explain what the above statement means. Can the Council tell me if Radcliffe will be left with no library service during the period when the library has been moved out of the Carnegie building and prior to moving into the new hub and if this is the case how long will Radcliffe be left without a library?


Responding, Councillor Eamonn O’Brien reported that there was no proposal to withdraw the Library Service in Radcliffe. Options were being worked through how it would be provided, with the current plan to continue to provide the service within the Carnegie Library during the redevelopment. The arrangements for this are currently being considered as part of the design work and we will be briefing Councillors once we have more detail. We are also proposing a public information event in the new year when we hope to share the design proposals for the space and answer any questions people may have. He advised there would be disruption to the library service, but the commitment was to not withdraw it.


A further supplementary question was submitted:


We were told the Enterprise Centre wouldn’t start until after the Hub was finished, then were told through Cabinet papers that there would be temporary buildings for the library, then told again through papers that it wouldn’t be temporary buildings. This makes it very difficult to speak with residents, and we need better communication.


Councillor O’Brien reported that emails were sent to all Councillors ahead of the Cabinet report explaining the situation and offering a face-to-face briefing, and undertook to look into whether this wasn’t received by some Members and if so, why. He advised that there were also monthly Radcliffe meetings to facilitate this sort of communication, and if these were not functioning as planned he would speak to the officers involved to look at options to improve things. He noted that sometimes things do change and often this was out of the Council’s control; for example the Enterprise Centre had to be brought forward as the Shared Prosperity Fund monies had a deadline to be spent by. Briefings and papers have been clear that we have always been looking at options and things were not yet decided; there were no guarantees as to how long leisure facilities could be retained in Radcliffe as the school deadlines were absolute. The goal has always been to minimise impact as much as possible and communicate as best as we can to ensure the residents of Radcliffe are confident in the development.