Sheffield Central Library petition to go before councillors after 8,000 sign

Rebecca Gransbury started a petition to keep Sheffield Central Library in public use, which more than 8,000 people signed.
Rebecca Gransbury started a petition to keep Sheffield Central Library in public use, which more than 8,000 people signed.
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A petition calling for Sheffield Central Library to remain a public building will be presented to councillors after more than 8,000 people signed.

Rebecca Gransbury, from Wybourn, set up the petition after Sheffield Council revealed it had given its Chinese investment partner Sichaun Guodong Construction Group 12 months to look into turning the building into a five star hotel.

The council pledged to keep a full library service 'in the heart of the city' if the proposal were to go ahead.

But Rebecca, a 38-year-old book seller, believes more should be done to look at keeping the library in its current home.

"I'm really pleased to see so many people engaged in the issue and to see so many have that will to keep it where it is," she said.

Part of the issue is the cost of repairing the Grade II listed building. Although it is not unsafe, it has serious structural issues that could cost about £30 million to repair - a sum the council says it can't afford.

The aim is also to free up public funds currently being spent on the library building, while bringing in upwards of £1 million in business rates from the hotel - which could then be spent on frontline services.

Read more:

Chinese firm's plan to turn Sheffield Central Library into five star hotel

Rebecca said: "While I know that the building has problems and does need maintenance - and that has a cost - I really would like to see more work done to fund that or find investment to keep the library where it is and upgrade the building."

The council says a long lease agreement is likely, although a sale has not been ruled out. Sichaun Guodong is keen to retain the Graves Gallery, although no plan for the Library Theatre has yet been made.

Rebecca will present her petition at the full council meeting at 2pm on Wednesday.

The day before, the council will hold a public meeting on the proposals at the town hall from 5.30pm.

Rebecca said she could see the benefit of outside investment in Sheffield, but added: "I just don't like to see the hotel trade cherry-picking our best public buildings."

The council's cabinet member for community services and libraries Jack Scott said: “I absolutely understand the affection and genuine care people have for this building. Indeed, I share it too.

"The current building is iconic and beautiful in many ways and nobody doubts that. But there are also issues with the building that are unlikely to be fixed, particularly regarding its repair and accessibility.

“Sheffield deserves an inclusive, inspiring and innovative city-centre library service that is fit for the 21st century.

"No decisions have been made about the future and I really want people to get involved. That’s why we’re holding a first public meeting, and I want as many people as possible to come along to that and think in a big, bold and confident way about the future of this vital service.”

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