Claims that visitors to Birmingham’s new civic library may have to queue to get in at the busiest times have been rejected as “highly unlikely”.
Cabinet regeneration member Neville Summerfield insisted there was no truth in a suggestion by Labour that a narrow site chosen for the £193 million library in Centenary Square and a shared entrance with the Rep theatre meant that 10,000 visitors expected to use the two buildings each day might face a lengthy wait to get in.
He was reacting after Nechells councillor Tahir Ali (Lab) said he had been told by a senior council official it was possible that the library building would not be able to cope with the huge numbers of people expected to visit when it opens in 2013.
Coun Summerfield (Con Brandwood) admitted he has not yet seen the interior design plan for the seven-storey library, even though the building has been given planning permission and the cabinet earlier this week ordered construction company Carillion to start work on the scheme in January.
He told the regeneration scrutiny committee: “I would have thought, given that we expect a huge number of visitors each week, that the architects would have taken all of this into account. It is highly unlikely that people would have to queue. I can’t see why anyone would think that might happen.
“Obviously people won’t have to queue to get into what is going to be a great new facility.”
Steve Vickers, head of urban design at the council, said the new building had been purposely designed to cope with twice the number of people using the Central Library in Paradise Forum.
Mr Vickers added: “The number of escalators and lifts far exceeds what is in the Central Library so I don’t envisage people having any trouble getting into the building and moving around.”
But Coun Ali insisted the popularity of Centenary Square as a place where people gather to enjoy events could lead to overcrowding when the library opens.