E&E Letters | Show us the airport cash calculations!

JOHN Hart says that he is getting tired of the ‘Exeter has been hard done by’ scenario (Drop call for more cash, city told, E&E, 14July 2011) since he revealed that Exeter may not get all the promised £10 million from the sale of Exeter International Airport to build a new Central Library.

He went on to tell us that he believes the money already spent elsewhere, both in the city and the county, has come from the Investing  in Devon Fund, set up following the sale of the airport. So the money has been spent. Why couldn’t the residents of Exeter have been told this earlier?

For over two years since Cllr Hart became leader of Devon County Council, he has had ample opportunity to say that there would be no money to spend on a new library for the city, money promised by a previous administraton.

I am well aware that a change of administration may well mean a change of focus in plans and projects. Indeed announcements of this sort are expected.

Now Cllr Hart and senior Cabinet members say “£10million will get you nothing.” They say “It will cost somewhere in the region of £40 million for a new library.” I ask, where are the figures to support this?

In addition to being a councillor, I am a freelance theatre sound designer, and as such I tour the country and work in many cultural venues. I can point to two recently opened spaces that would question these figures.

Leicester’s Curve – a 750 main auditorium and a 350 studio theatre – opened in November 2008 at a cost of £60 million. This, on a larger site than the library location, for a technically advanced theatre for the modern age.

Well, that brings me to the C.L.R.James Library and Hackney Archives in Dalston, which opened earlier this year. This is a modern-looking library, topped off by social housing, on a site about the same size as that occupied by the Central Library in Castle Street. The cost? Oh, some £4.5million – the exact figure currently on offer from Devon Country Council for refurbishment.

So, I for one, applaud the Echo’s “Show Us The Rest Of The Money” campaign and would urge them to take up a new one – “Show Us Your Calculations.”

Paul Bull
Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Cowick

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