Pitt Street sold for a pittance

Friday, December 3, 2004

Valued community asset goes under
the hammer for less than 200 grand

Despite efforts of many members of the community Pitt Street buildings were sold by the Calderdale Council earlier this week. They were sold in an auction held at Manchester Airport for £171,000, possibly for converting into restaurant or alternative therapy treatment rooms.

The matter had been raised at the Hebden Royd Partnership AGM last week, where they voted unanimously to ask Calderdale to stop the sale of community assets such as this.

Local MP Chris McCafferty, who wrote to Calderdale Chief Executive Paul Sheehan asking him to delay the sale of Pitt Street, said "I am deeply concerned at the number of Council premises that are being disposed of in Hebden Bridge without any apparent consultation or long-term plan for amenities in the town.

"It seems that the Council is presently engaged in a mad dash to sell off property without consideration of the long-term needs. It is time to call a halt and take a more considered approach.?

A demonstration was held outside Pitt Street in the morning before opponents of the sale made their way to Halifax to lobby Councillor John Ford (Con, Skircoat). Councillor Ford told the group that the Council were selling off many of their public assets throughout Calderdale to raise funds to update other public buildings to new government standards. 0.5 Million from the proceeds of the sales would go to the new Hebden Bridge library, he said.

Councillor Ford added that nobody had been in contact with him personally to oppose the sale and dismissed any suggestion of removing the Pitt Street from the auction.

The Pitt Street building had been given to Calderdale Council by Hebden Royd Council for free in 1974, and arguments had been made that it should be returned to the local community if the Calderdale could not afford to maintain and run it.

A group of Hebden Bridge residents had raised £15,000 towards a deposit for the building in just one day but were prevented from submitting a telephone bid to the sale as they had not completed the necessary paperwork. They wanted to use the building safeguard up to 19 local jobs, provide 4 affordable homes, replace meeting space lost in the relocation of the Tourist Information Centre and to house artists from the Northlight Studios due to be made homeless by the conversion of their current home into housing.

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