In a recent article the Manchester Confidential echoed the opinions of many when they slammed Manchester City Council’s decision to open a new walkway extension in the “five metres of space” between the city’s Central Library and Town Hall. The walkway, described rather unflatteringly as a “black blob of glass” cost the taxpayer a staggering £3.5million yet seems to serve hardly anything in the way of public interest. The extension was justified by the Council as a way of improving “public safety”, with Council leader Sir Richard Leese claiming it acts as a “welcoming walkway, public space and a clear and visible entrance to the complex”.
However the proposal, which was first backed by Manchester City Council in 2012, had a hard time being accepted by local citizens who were quite rightly unable to understand what exact purpose the exorbitant walkway had and whether or not it was a worthwhile use of public money. Such was the uproar at the proposed scheme that the Friends of Library Walk campaign was formed, (their core belief being that “the scheme is unnecessary and a waste of money”) and within months had gained hundreds of local supporters, and their petition against the construction received over 1300 signatures.
Despite receiving such petitions and numerous complaints from those opposed throughout the development of the project-right from the planning proposal stages all the way through to the physical construction of the walkway, Manchester City Council have simply ignored the distressed voices of taxpayers and instead stuck to their own agenda.
To further add to their outrage, campaigners have recently lost their battle in an inquiry against the council’s decision to close the walkway at night. Instead the walkway is only open to the public between 10am-6pm, its restricted access raising further questions on whether or not it is genuinely beneficial to the city’s safety and if not, why it was constructed in the first place.
Sadly, until those questions are finally answered, every time the people of Manchester look at their “dark, squat” walkway they will be reminded of the huge misspending of money by their Council and only dream of all the more productive ways their money could have been spent.