The Stirrer [29.9.07] 

Opponents of Birmingham’s plans for a new city centre library are asking searching questions about the rising cost of the project – now estimated at £200 million. That’s double the “worst case scenario” projected in 1999.

Campaigner Alan Clawley, who wants to preserve John Madin’s existing 1973 building, is trying to work out who’s doing the maths for the scheme. He recalls that in 1999, the Labour leadership estimated the cost of a new library in Eastside at £70 to £100 million.

By 2003 that had risen to £154 million.

With the Tory/Lib Dem coalition at the helm in 2005, a review was carried out, and the Eastside concept was rejected as too expensive at £179.5 million. At that time, the split site option was costed at £147.4 million, while retaining the existing library with an extension came with price tag of £124.5 million. 

Clawley drily observes that “now, it seems, money is no object for Mr Dutton and the council. Perhaps he thinks talk of big money will impress businessmen and persuade them to come to Birmingham?”