Campaigners fighting a proposal to move Burton Library to the town's Market Hall want to see the area turned into a focal point for street food events and entertainment instead.
They would like to see the Market Hall and nextdoor Market Place used to rejuvenate Burton town centre with monthly events in a bid to attract more shoppers into town. The proposal is to move the library from its current location in the town centre, freeing up the old building for development.
Campaigners hope these sort of events would attract enough people into the town that the plan to move the library from its current building off Meadowside Drive can be dropped.
If the controversial move goes ahead it would mean the current market traders would have to move to alternative accommodation elsewhere in the town.
Campaigners from the group Love Burton do not want to see the library moved because they fear the large building would be up for grabs to developers and the site would then be lost to the town forever.
They have previously called the £7.3m cost of possibly moving the library to the Market Hall an "extortionate amount of money" to spend.
The proposal to move the library was one of a series of possible options included in a bid made to the Government's Towns Fund programme. This programme is worth a total of £3.6 billion and Burton is one of 100 towns selected to bid for up to £25 million each to pave the way for future economic growth.
The Burton Town Deal Board was set up to come up with a list of projects that the money could be spent on in Burton and has said moving Burton Library to the Market Hall would bring lots more people into the heart of town centre and open up the large library building fronting The Washlands for "regeneration projects".
Staffordshire County Council, which runs the library, is the one that came up with the idea of switching the library to the Market Hall.
The campaigners' proposals to hold street food events and live music performances were revealed at a meeting held between Love Burton, East Staffordshire Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council Burton Civic Society and Ben Robinson as chairman of Burton Town Deal Board.
During the meeting, Trevor Wright, from Love Burton, said: "Love Burton wants to be helpful. We don't want to be troublesome. We want to provide a positive input."
He claimed: "We have a fully functioning library and a Market Hall that, with some investment, could be successful again. £7.3 million is a large chunk of that fund that cannot be validated. Have we exhausted all lines of enquiry?"
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Andy O'Brien, the borough council's chief executive, said: "We want to breathe life into the Market Hall and we want to work with you to provide a future for it because we are all in this together.
"This is an effort to modernise and inject life into our market heritage but at the same time there has been a proposal that wants to move the library to the market hall."
He added that the Market Hall could include a county council hub with spaces for small business start-ups.
Mr Wright said that the proposal to move the library was "deeply unpopular" among consultees.
It was revealed the library project received a split amount of support and criticism during the public consultation on the board's proposals for the town. However among stakeholders, the project ranked fourth best overall in its 11 projects.
Mr Wright claimed: "It is unpopular and £7.3 million is about a third of the total figure [of £25 million].
"If it is so unpopular why would you want to proceed with it other than it saves money? Presumably the library site will be sold to developers?"
Wayne Mortiboys, the strategic development manager at Staffordshire County Council told the meeting: "Burton Library is Staffordshire's number one library. It has the highest attendance figures; 250,000 people visited in 2019.
"We are not looking for a cheaper alternative like putting it in a shopping centre. We are looking to make it a better library and move the footfall that comes with that library to the town centre.
"The footfall will regenerate the Market Place.
"The councils don't expect to make a profit. Any money made all gets ploughed back into public services."
The councils and Love Burton have agreed to further meetings in the future to discuss the rejuvenation of the town.
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