Kirklees Council looks set to push ahead with their bid to locate the new National Rugby League Museum at Huddersfield’s current library rather than the town’s historic George Hotel.
And the councillor behind a petition to stick to the original plan of creating the attraction at the game’s famous 1895 birthplace, which has gained more than 8,000 signatures, has blasted the controversial U-turn as “a monumental mistake”.
Project partners the Rugby League Cares charity, who will run the museum and believe Kirklees’ original pledge to create it as part of a redeveloped George was the key to Huddersfield beating Bradford, Leeds and Wigan in the tight battle to host the museum, have also criticised the Council.
The grade-two listed Victorian building, which is adjacent to the town’s railway station and has been closed since 2013, has been purchased by the Council as part of an ambitious £250 million town-centre regeneration scheme.
Now they say having the museum there may not be “compatible” with bringing the building back into use as hotel accommodation.
At a full meeting of Kirklees Council at Huddersfield Town Hall last Wednesday, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said she understood the museum would be part of the ‘Huddersfield Blueprint’ regeneration and would go “into what was the library” in the so-called ‘cultural heart’ on the opposite side of the town centre.
Senior councillor Peter McBride insisted Kirklees’ commitment to locating the museum at the George had been given “in good faith”.
But he said: “The very expensive work on the George suggests that relocation of the museum and rebuilding of the hotel may not be compatible objectives. Our priority must be the reopening of the hotel.”
Councillor McBride added that moving the museum to the ‘cultural heart’ would be “most fitting if not the perfect location from a Rugby League perspective”.
Councillor Andrew Cooper, a leading Green Party councillor whose ward includes the town centre and who launched the petition, said: “Millions have been committed to this project and we will get something quite different.
“This is a monumental mistake by the Council on so many levels.
“This doesn’t look like a partnership of equals, rather the Council calling the shots with a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.
“The Labour leadership have clearly lost control of this issue. Having promised one thing, now they are proposing to deliver something quite different.”
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