Bristol Council accused of flogging off parts of Bristol Central Library at ‘knock down’ price

Bristol City Council is celebrating the 400th centenary of Free Bristol Libraries by considering a proposal from recently opened school to let 2 floors of its historic Grade 1 listed buildings

Bristol City Council has been accused of seeking to “flog-off” part of the prestigious Central Library at a “knock-down” price to local taxpayers.

The City Council is presently engaged in negotiations with Bristol Cathedral Choir School over controversially leasing two lower floors of the Central Library, off Deanery Road, for the institution to expand its newly-opened Primary Free School.

Critics of the move have said that the disposal of the space will make it impossible to maintain the current high standards of the Library Service and risks re-opening arguments to move the facilities offered at the Grade 1 Listed Building.

But the Council says the proposal can be accomplished without damaging library standards, can help provide primary school accommodation and could give rise to a £60,000 per annum property income.

Now, however, campaigners claim that the rental figure quoted by Council Officers for a return on the twenty-five year lease represents “only a fraction” of the amount the Cathedral Choir Primary School should pay for accommodation on a prime City Centre location.

Councillor Richard Eddy, the former chairman of the Libraries Select Committee, who has launched his own e-petition against the plan, said that independent professional valuation campaigners have received suggested that the Council was seeking just over half the lease income it could achieve.

“We have sought independent property advice and are assured that similar City Centre space would normally command a return of approximately £110,000 per annum but the City Council is talking of only £60,000 – almost half what it could secure.

“Obviously, the Council might well countenance a lesser return if we knew that our strategic objectives were being met, for example, by meeting school places for local children.

“Instead, Bristol Cathedral Choir School is obligated to offer its places to young people within the former County of Avon and, under the sibling rule, this means that local youngsters are even less likely to get in.

“Sadly, it appears that the City Council is obsessed with flogging-off part of the Central Library at a knock-down price and has little regard for library-users or local taxpayers.

“This move gives a whole new meaning to the term bargain basement!”

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