C. 60 people attended the meeting which was chaired by Nick Wilding.
After a welcome and introduction by N.W. outlining the nature and purpose of the meeting the discussion was thrown open to the floor.
Since many different topics were discussed, and topics that had already been touched on were raised again at various points during the meeting, the following minutes summarise the discussion under subject headings.
1. Seats by the river and in St. George’s Square.
There was a strong feeling that seats should be reinstated adjacent to and above the new steps by the river. The seats and benches that had been removed from St. George’s Square, many of which were memorial seats and bore commerative plaques, should also be put back; at the very least the plaques should be restored.
There was much discussion of traffic problems. It was argued that parking in Market Street causes traffic jams; that people don’t use the train because of the difficulties of parking at the station; that the costs of shopping in Hebden Bridge were greater for people who don’t live in centrally because of the parking charges; that the recent developments themselves add to traffic problems.
3. Tree felling
Concern was expressed about the widespread felling of trees especially by the canal where people who live in the house boats hadn’t been informed about what was happening.
4. The decision making process.
There was general agreement that more thought should be given to the needs of people who live in the area (including the need for affordable social housing) and that Hebden Bridge was gradually losing its individual character. One reason for what one person called the ‘desecration’ of the town was felt to be that all decision were made by Calderdale. One aim of any group that was formed as a result of the public meeting should be to push for devolved decision making.
5. Calderholmes Park
It was agreed that the park, which was one of Hebden Bridge’s best assets, was gradually being run down. Litter bins had not been emptied or litter cleared for fiv3 days over Easter.
6. Association with other bodies.
One person argued that people attending the meeting should be involved with the Town meeting and existing bodies. David Fletcher urged people to become involved in the Hebden Partnership and Advisory groups, the next meeting of which was at 7.00pm on May 14th. The five main priorites of the Partnership were:
(The fifth priority was never revealed!)
7. Funding of the Junior band
There was criticism of the fact that it was rumoured that funding was to be withdrawn from the Junior Band.
A constant theme throughout the whole meeting was the lack of real channels of communication and that knowledge of much of what was happening depended on hearsay and rumour. A Council newsletter should be used to inform; the hebden bridge Times should be used as a conduit to keep people informed about what was happening, planning decision etc. (It was noted that no reporter from the HBT attended the meeting.)
9. Next meeting
At the end of the meeting there was discussion about the formation of a new non-political and non-commercial group (and, not least, about what such a group should be called). Two people ( Warren Milburn and Nina Smith) volunteered to be on the committee and Nicola Milburn Jones offered to help. No decision was taken and it was agreed that a further meeting should be held on Wednesday 13 June in the White Lion at 7.30