Discussion Forum

"People's Information Centre" and Free Shop

Posted by Sarah
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I'm interested in hearing what people thought about this event, and what issues it brought up...

Posted by Peter Ford
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I would be very interested to find out how many of the so called squatters were actually born in Hebden Bridge or the Calder valley.

It is usually my experience that these do-gooders with their principles are usually from further afield than the local area.

Is it not these same off comers that are actually helping to increase the price of housing in Hebden Bridge, and are turning the town into a commuter zone?

Posted by Chris
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I was one of the squatters who took over Queens Terrace in the mid 1970s. Many of my former squatter friends went on to become key members of our community, significantly contributing to the renaissance of what was then a dying town.

We had great support from the local community but there were inevitably those who wanted to send us "back from where we came".

I think we should listen to what the squatters have been saying, and respect those with a different lifestyles and values (including the recently maligned canal boaters). There is just a possibility that these will be very people who will help make and shape the Hebden Bridge of tomorrow, and keep it the distinctive, fascinating community it is.

Posted by Opaz
Friday, April 16, 2004

Fair point Peter, but I suspect the people squatting the TIC are not the incomers who are pushing up house prices. I blame the rich folks who live up the hill for that.

Anyway, is the squat still on? It looked pretty dead in there last night (wednesday). I have a box of books I was going to take up, for selling or reading.

Posted by Adam
Friday, April 16, 2004

Whether or not a person is born in an area, does that give them more or less right to have a say on what is happening in their current community?

Sometimes it is these new "do gooders" as you like to refer to them who can provide a breath of fresh air or new ideas to place.

I would not presume to comment directly to the situation at the TIC as I do not know enough about it (although I have read about it on HebWeb).

Posted by Peter Ford
Sunday, April 18, 2004

I personally have nothing against people who have moved into the area from afar or those who have lived here all there lives.

The point I was trying to make is that the rising price of housing in Hebden Bridge simply mirrors what is happening in the rest of the country.

Where someone originates from is not the issue, but neither should be how much money someone has or has not got.

Just as the local community welcomed the squatters in the early seventies, why should it not welcome people who want to live here just because they have jobs that pay a decent salary?

It may just be the case that these people can also contribute to and help shape the Hebden Bridge of the future, just as the squatters did in the seventies and in subsequent years.

If the community of Heben Bridge is as open minded and as liberal as it pretends to be then it should give everyone a fair go.

Perhaps the information centre squatters are trying to close the door to Hebden Bridge which was opened to them.

If so is this not a case of I'm alright jack pull up the ladder?

Posted by Adam
Monday, April 19, 2004

I quite agree that incomers should be welcomed. I also agree that how much money they may have and where they're from shouldn't be an issue.

This was exactly my point, I got the impression from your original post that you resented the influx of outsiders "....from further afield than the local area." who you feel are responsible for the occupation of the PIC.

I am certainly unsure what you are referring to when you state: "Perhaps the information centre squatters are trying to close the door to Hebden Bridge which was opened to them."

Assuming that your theory is correct and these people are outsiders, then surely they are grasping life in Hebden Bridge with both hands by defending the residents property from being sold off by the council without consultation which is my understanding of the current situation at the PIC - please correct me if I'm wrong in this understanding!

Posted by Nics
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Quote: "Is it not these same off comers that are actually helping to increase the price of housing in Hebden Bridge, and are turning the town into a commuter zone?"

Hello - I have just moved to Hebden Bridge after living in London for several years, although I am originally from another part of West Yorkshire. I am surprised to hear some quite biggoted comments regarding 'outsiders' being responsible for putting up the house prices - how does that work exactly? I find Hebden Bridge very expensive but I love it and therefore I live there. I don't want to change the mood of the place - on the contrary - and if house prices have gone up is that fault of the buyer? If you want to live here you have to pay the going rate! In many ways this boosts the local economy rather than affecting the status of the residents although I would much prefer not to pay ridiculous sums of money to live in a small house, but if I don't someone else will, and I'm sure that most of us 'newcomers' want to retain HB's unique and quirky character. Perhaps you should instigate a sort of vetting system that only allows like minded individuals to buy houses here? :o)

Posted by Peter Ford
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Nics you seem to have misunderstood my viewpoint. Bigoted I certainly am not I was just trying to put over a different view point. Your posting basically backs up what I was saying. Anyone should be able to buy a home in Hebden Bridge who ever they are and where ever they are from.

The theory behind my first post was however that onec people start to move into town from further afield as the popularity of the town increases so house prices increase.

I think however this is straying away from the message which the TIC squatters were trying to get across.

1st - that public buildings should not be sold without consulting the affected community.

and 2nd - that the rise in housing cost may be down to people buying properties to let or simply to develop for profit.

On both counts they have valid points.

Posted by Ravinda Khan
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Either way its good to see Hebden moving with the times. Property prices go up and people react in different ways. Strangely enough a house in Hebden Bridge still wouldnt get you a bed-sit in London , so I dare say many more people will soon be leaving London and coming to Hebden. Social/economic refugees if you like.

Look at the price of a one bedroom flat in Manchester/Leeds these days? So let's put the subject in perspective. There are concerns about the sale and acquisition of the Information Centre and some people have taken it upon themselves to do something about it. That is comendable.

Lets not get bogged down in petty regional racism. Its the free spirit, adaptability and intelligence of the Hebden Comunity that brought everyone together and made the town what it is today and not its ability to shelter itself from diversity and social/economic integration.

The Council ultimately controls how things develop here, in that they approve the documentation. Hebden would be better represented inside the council if those 'locals' concerned with the Information Centre applied to join the council. Then greater control and representation can be achieved rather than just another lucrative property deal.

Posted by Nics
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Hi again

Ok, lets all live happily together in lovely Hebden Bridge and welcome diversity in whatever form it manifests itself!!! I love the fact that people take pride in their communities and as long as this doesn't evoke hostility in any shape or form then I'm up for it - vive la difference!

Do you know I have just discovered that my great-great grandmother was born here in 1839 - I'm not an outsider after all!!!!!!!

Posted by Steve Skoda
Thursday, April 22, 2004

I personally think everyone has missed the point.

One of the reasons the Tourist Information was taken was and I quote; "They say they object to the sale of the publicly-owned building to the private sector for development, when local people are unable to afford homes because of soaring prices" and The residents, who themselves live in various rented, owned, and low-impact homes, say they are angry that the building, which was for the use and benefit of the community, is being privatized, "to provide more profit for the wealthy." Now unless I'm mistaken these Local residents (Squatters) don't want off comers like me and several of the above respondants, to move into their community! Why is this? Surely Hebden needs a blend of differing backgounds, thats what makes it different and why I moved!

Posted by Nicola
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The issue is that a new Information Centre has been provided, with full disability access - catering for the majority of visitors (with interest for children whom we should welcome and educate - the exhibition gives back the historic context to the village and the canal).

The squatters want to get back in their pram with their free toys and get on with contributing to the community in a positive not negative way. How on earth signs on windows addressed to the now - like it not - majority of home owners in the area - in full glory of every passing potential investor or homebuyer of 'YUPPIES OUT - your cars and children will be ours' is hardly an argument for peaceful community living by anyone's misguided politics. If they actually called a community meeting to discuss the situation, involved their local politicians, flyered their neighbours or did something vaguely positive, some of the 'new' money in the village might actually be forthcoming to help with their bid to save the building, but negative backstabbing against those of us who have moved here with the intention of contributing to a growing community will stay, but are unlikely to share any sense of common ground or views with self-indulgent, idiots behaving like under-educated, spoilt students - Get some professional advice, use the professionals that are now living here to set up a residents committee if you're so sure of your views instead of holing yourselves up and bringing derision and contempt by the rest of us, who are simply trying to enjoy a peaceful lifestyle with the added bonus of a thriving tourist industry.

Posted by Ravinda Khan
Friday, April 30, 2004

Good point Nichola. I think they forget that it is we, the comunity that currently tolerate their antics. I do share concerns for the private aquisition of the Information Centre for what seems to be Harry Ramsdens , since its exactly that kind of enterprise Hebden has never wanted and still dosnt. But those signs in the window are a whole different issue. Quite honestly its the comunity outside of their squat that 'owns their cars and the minds of their children'. And if we find out that they are just empty headed trouble makers, 'the comunity' will soon be coming through that door. Clean your act up kids or get a true taste of Hebden.

More importantly its things like the aquisition of the Hotel and it being turned into residential flats that are a bigger concern. If those kids 'beef' is with 'out of towners', 'yuppies' and people people with cash and a car they have got a rough ride ahead of them. If its with the planning of Hebden Bridge and its demise as a beautifull town then they might find you have powerfull and wealthy support behind you.

Posted by Elderberry
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Some of the emails have been referring to "they" "the squatters", a bit like the Daily Mail has a tendency to talk about "they" "the protesters" like they're some group isolated from the rest of us "normal people". It might help clarify things to say, there wasn't really any such mysterious group that took over the TIC - only "we, the locals"!

A lot of different locals had been saying for ages "someone ought to do something about the TIC being sold off". Eventually, a couple of them thought, well, if you think something needs doing, you should do it - and so a handful of people (not even who all knew each other before then) spent a few days getting stuff together. After the initial "legal squatting" 24 hours, when the doors were opened to the general public, the whole event was handed over to pretty much whoever came in the door! The original handful had children/jobs/committments to sort, just like anyone else.

Anyone could sign up to do a shift or stay overnight or put on a film or cook food or bring free stuff or arrange an event, and anyone - turning up myself each time I went in to a new collection of faces, it felt like, everyone! - did. The writing of the final press release was open to whoever wanted to contribute that was there at the time, and so was the closing meeting.

Simple as that. So there ain't no - "what 'the squatters' think - where they live - where they come from - what they paid for their houses" - the answers would be as diverse as is the Hebden community

Posted by Nicola
Monday, May 10, 2004

So ultimately you condone hostility to the wider community then?

Community spirit is one thing, anarchic non-management another. What obviously started as a positive act, obviously degenerated into a chaotic mixed bundle of not necessarily coherent messages about everything but the issue at hand, which I understood to be the TIC, not fuel and yuppies and free books. But hey as long as everyone had a good time and nothing was actually achieved in the end ....

Posted by Mark O'Leary
Monday, May 17, 2004

1) The old TIC was in many ways the centre of Hebden Bridge. The new TIC is an embarassment, but fortunately obscure enough that very few visitors will encounter it.

2) To use disabled access as an excuse for property development is shameful.

3) To protest the sell-off as being done "without consultation" is to misunderstand something: 'We' elected the councillors who approved this, so we have no-one else to blame.

4) A 'YUPPIES OUT' signs posted by the squatters appear from this forum to be considered acceptable. On which basis, I presume one could substitute any number of racially, religiously or sexually-weighted words for 'yuppies' and it would be similarly tolerated? No? Then perhaps 'YUPPIES OUT' was more offensive than you intially thought it was.

5) Which is more likely to influence a council decision: a squat, or - say - a call to a local TV programme, or a campaign mobilising voters for the next election to get the people that approved this plan out?

6) The last thing anyone needs is another food outlet on the old TIC site. Remember that the visitors tend to go away each Winter. Hebden Bridge is drowning in coffee shops and the like, on a regular boom-and-bust annual cycle. Unfortunately, many businesses have adapted to this tourist cycle, and so will favour any use of the site that attracts or services them.

Posted by Ravinda Khan
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Thanks Mark , some very good points. Heads should turn to the Council and look for change. Point number 4 though, I dont think anyone from the forum is tolerating the 'YUPPIES OUT' sign. See messages above. Seems only to be acceptable to those that were inside the TIC. This is the biggest problem with the entire protest and was offensive. It lost a lot of credance to the demonstration and possible future support of this method.

Posted by Jack Hughes
Thursday, May 27, 2004

So would "fascists out" be unacceptable then, on the grounds that it'd discriminate? Whilst I agree that the "Yuppies Out" sign could be construed as offensive to some, it is hardly in the same league as racist or homophobic slogans, is it? To ignore the evident fact that many people do, for whatever reasons, resent the influx of what they perceive as moneyed offcumdens (yuppies, bourgeoisie, call them what you want) into the valley is plain naive. And to claim that no-one from the Forum is/was tolerating the offending sign is to ignore (a) the likely demographic of those who use said forum (you know who you are) and (b) the "moderation" policy. So much for "credance"

Posted by Ravinda Khan
Sunday, May 30, 2004

Thank you for aknowledging that it 'could be constructed as offensive'. It has been by 'many people'. Just as there might be 'many' in the comunity who are racist and homophobic , the TIC protest was about inapropriate use of public property, and not an open forum for anyone to vent their anger on whatever subject they wanted. No one is ignoring what is going on and a demographic of this forum is not representative of the Hebden Community. The reason I say it is not being tolerated is that that the issue continues to be raised and discussed. And as you point out, the moderation policy allows for this.