Hopes that Labour would save Birmingham’s Central Library from demolition if the party takes control of the city council next May have been dashed.
Group leader Sir Albert Bore confirmed that he would go ahead with a plan to get rid of the 1970s brutalist structure, which is due to be knocked down to make way for a £500 million redevelopment of Paradise Circus after the new civic library opens in Centenary Square in 2013.
Although the clearance proposal was devised by the council’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, it is not being opposed by Labour councillors.
Sir Albert (Lab Ladywood) was responding to a plea to save the building from Friends of the Central Library organiser Alan Clawley.
In a letter to Sir Albert, Mr Clawley points out that English Heritage has twice recommended that the Central Library be listed as a building of special architectural importance and kept for future generations to enjoy.
However, an immunity from listing certificate approved by the Government this year effectively gives the council until 2016 to demolish the building.
The three main political parties on the council agree it would be too expensive to put the concrete-clad building into a good state of repair.
Sir Albert said: “My view is that the Central Library building must go to make way for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus. I shall be writing to Mr Clawley to explain why I cannot go along with his request.”
Sir Albert said he was excited by development plans being drawn up by former Argent director Gary Taylor, which envisage a new civic square on land presently occupied by the library.
In his letter, Mr Clawley said: “We continue to argue the Central Library building should, and could, be kept and put to good use rather than demolished.”
Mr Clawley argued that keeping the building intact would “conserve energy and avoid the expenditure of new energy and further emissions of CO2.”
There were sound economic and social reasons to keep the building as a key city centre feature, he added.
He continued: “Findings from recent Urban Design studies show that it is entirely feasible to integrate the Central Library building into any future Paradise Circus redevelopment. We are not campaigning against Paradise Circus being redeveloped. Rather, we are working on ideas and proposals for the re-use of the Central Library building and its possible integration into any redevelopment.
“We would be particularly interested in knowing if Labour would be prepared to consider reviewing the present administration’s policy that makes the immediate demolition of the Central Library building necessary.”
Mr Clawley’s plea came as the Central Library was placed on an at-risk list by the World Monuments Fund.
Its 2012 World Monuments Watch list also includes Coventry Cathedral.
The WMF says its list “seeks to draw international attention as well as local community support for some of the world’s most treasured locations”.
WMF chief executive Jonathan Foyle said: “We can never afford to take for granted our irreplaceable and enriching cultural inheritance, but in an age of greater austerity this Watch further reminds to be vigilant, look after and enjoy historic places, many of which we could not afford to build today.”