Bradford Council has admitted it may have to relocate the city’s central library after investigations revealed it will cost £4 million of taxpayers’ money to make the current building safe.
Earlier this month, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed that the eight-floor building had been forced to close after being identified as a serious fire risk.
The ground floor and first floor are now open to the public after the staircase on those floors was fire-protected.
But emergency work still has to be done to make the whole of the central staircase safe because, in its current state, it would act as a chimney if there was a fire.
Work to make the whole building fit for purpose was initially estimated at hundreds of thousands of pounds, but further investigations have found that it will cost an estimated £2 million for backlog maintenance work and £2 million for the fire improvements.
An external fire escape needs erecting, the whole building needs re-wiring, the roof needs replacing as well as work on the internal staircase.
The remaining six floors, housing the district’s archive and meeting rooms, will stay closed until Bradford Council officers decide what is the most cost-effective way of delivering the city centre library services, including whether to carry out the essential work.
Councillor David Green, the Council’s executive member responsible for culture, said that all options needed to be looked at.
“The situation is that the library is certainly open and continues to provide services in the medium term which is 18 months to two years,” he said.
“But given the cost of the repairs, apart from the fact we haven’t got £4 million, we have to look at alternative options to continue the provision of the library and archive service in Bradford city centre.
“We may look at alternative accommodation and have asked officers to go and look at some options.
“If we can do that for a reasonable and sensible sum of money in a building that is accessible to the public, we will look at that.”
At the moment there is no access to the public toilets and disabled access is also limited. Two days’ notice has to be given if anyone wants an item from the archives.
Coun Green said that the building could be sold off to a private sector company which could afford to do the improvements and use it as an office development.