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Campaigners fighting to save Shire Hall and its library and gallery put their case forward

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

Campaigners fighting to save Shire Hall and its library

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting proposals to move the library and art gallery out of Stafford's Shire Hall are hoping county council members will get behind them on Friday and urge bosses to ditch the plans.

County councillor Maureen Compton handed over a petition, signed by 2,915 people to the full council last month to save the historic building.

It followed Staffordshire County Council's announcement just before Christmas that it was considering a raft of cost-cutting measures, including a potential proposal to move services out of Shire Hall and possibly sell the building.

But horrified residents rushed to sign the petition, launched by Councillor Compton.

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Councillor Compton will have a chance to put forward the case to save the landmark at a meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee tomorrow. The committee will be able to make recommendations to the cabinet committee, which will ultimately make the decision.

Councillor Compton says: "The building also has a sensory room which is an indispensable resource for children, especially those with special needs.

The petition also raises concerns that the sale of the Shire Hall may lead to a use which is not appropriate to a building of such historic and cultural significance to the people of Stafford.

The news comes as the county council bids for cash to move the William Salt collection to a new single, modern site next door.

The archives, housed in the William Salt Library in Eastgate Street, will now be housed in the Staffordshire Records Office, which will be extended to provide a state-of-the-art service. It will include a new exhibition space and search room on the ground floor.

Staffordshire County Council cabinet members approved the plans last month, claiming the move would preserve the collections for the future.

They will now submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4million to pay for the project. The council will also contribute a further £469,000.

Cabinet members said the current building was no longer fit for purpose, which angered history campaigners, including Mary Dodkins, chairman of Staffordshire Heritage.

She said the William Salt Library was in need of vital work, which could be done to continue housing the collection.

But Mike Lawrence, cabinet member for children, communities and localism, said the documents should be kept in a 21st century environment, and that could be provided in the new building.

"There will be more access and more room at the new Archives Centre, and the collection will be protected,” he said.

"The William Salt building itself will not be lost, some other use will be found for it."

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  • unigrind  |  March 07 2014, 8:17AM

    Having spent millions on the new headquarters which was supposed to be part funded by retail outlets on the ground floor which we now know has failed, this council now decides to empty even more old buildings with the vague comment that other uses will be found for them. What has not been said is how much it is costing in rates and security to maintain the old buildings that they have emptied so far and what are the projected costs have been allocated for rates and security until such time as new uses are found. You only need to look at the fiasco of the move of the police headquarters which has lost millions in rates and security from the original estimates of savings to see why these proposed 'cost savings' look dodgy.

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