Opposition and Controversy
The new civic offices were proposed at a time of great economic hardship in the early 1930s. Unemployment in Leicester was running at 10%. Opponents said the “piling up of public debt” to build them was inexcusable and in “total disregard of the hardships and struggles of many of our working class ratepayers”.
A Quarter of a Million Pound Building on a Million Pound Road
The scheme’s benefits to the local economy won the argument. As the Leicester Mercury noted, the building trade was “languishing, and it would be better for the city to pay for work to be done rather than pay the dole men for doing nothing”. In addition, many thousands of citizens would visit the Municipal Offices each year, supporting the building’s street-level shops and encouraging further development along Charles Street itself.
A Notable Building to Command Attention and Respect
In 1931 an open competition for the design was won by the Liverpool architects Leonard Barnish and H. Spencer Silcock, for “a notable building which will command attention and respect. It conforms to the modern desire for simplicity”. Construction was contracted to local firms, to promote employment.
Stylish Civic Accommodation