Crossgates Library: Petition to save old Leeds library passes 1,100 signatures

A petition to save a former library building in east Leeds from being sold off has reached more than 1,100 signatures.

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Leeds City Council revealed last month it was planning to get the old Crossgates Library, on Farm Road, off its books to raise much-needed cash.

The council claimed there was local support to turn the venue into a boxing club and that the suburb’s new library, in Crossgates Shopping Centre, has been popular.

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The  library’s move to the shopping centre, which took place in spring 2022, was initially supposed to be temporary, but plans to modernise the old building into a new library and community hub have now been scrapped.

A petition to save the old Crossgates Library has passed 1,100 signatures. Picture by GoogleA petition to save the old Crossgates Library has passed 1,100 signatures. Picture by Google
A petition to save the old Crossgates Library has passed 1,100 signatures. Picture by Google

Mark Nicholson, one of the residents to have signed the petition, said many in the community were “strongly opposed” to the sale.

Mr Nicholson, who stood as an independent candidate for Cross Gates and Whinmoor in the local elections this year, said: “There’s a feeling we’ve been misled.

“Funding is a bit dire, no-one is denying central government is starving local government of cash.

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“But the irony is the council will be paying a commercial rent on the new library, because it’s in a new unit in the shopping centre. That can’t be cheap.

“The old library is a magnificent building and once you’ve lost an asset you’ve lost it.”

The petition, created by Charlotte Gill, claims in its description that the new shopping centre unit is neither “large enough” or “secure enough”.

It adds: “Children do not have their own quiet space, the units feel cramped and too full. This space was intended to be temporary and behaves as such.”

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In response, a city council spokesperson said the original plan to be refurbish the old library had collapsed when the NHS pulled its funding for the scheme.

A new GP surgery had been one of the facilities expected to be built into the new facility.

The local authority added: “Given the council’s financial position, it is necessary for us to review our entire estate in order to reduce our costs. Since the library building was closed it has become the target for anti-social behaviour and has been subject to extensive damage.

“Buildings which are vacant must be prioritised given the impact that such properties have on local communities and the costs involved in holding buildings vacant.

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“Since relocating, library users have fed back that they find the new location more accessible, with the library now sitting alongside a number of other local services and amenities. The library has also seen an increase in the number of new joiners and PC users and has one of the busiest digital drop-ins in the city.”

The council said it would continue to look at ways of “enhancing” the new library, “with a view to incorporating a wider array of council services and improved facilities.”