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Town Hall Café

From H Gregg

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I went into the Town Hall Cafe a couple of days ago.

I ordered a green tea.

It cost me £2.65!

Is this a record? And how accessible does this make it to the majority of people in the town?

Or was that not the point of selecting this franchisee?

From S Ashworth

Monday, 3 September 2012

Yes very expensive!

The company I work with are based at the Town Hall and if we have clients in we take them out to eat/drink in other places in town as it's too expensive, had stale cake twice and the seating inside and out is cheap looking tat that is uncomfortable!

What a shame as the setting is loverly - hopefully it will improve

From Victoria J

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Town hall cafe charging bistro prices.

I visited the cafe during the heavy rains a week last sataday. The Criers' competition was taking place but due to the rain, they moved indoors. I wish I had known about it sooner as from what I saw, it was a hoot. The Hebden Bridge mayoress was full of fun and mischief with everyone with humour and beautifully dressed.

I ordered a hot cheese melt for myself and my elderly mother along with a tea and a coffee. The cost took me by surprise but I expected it to be of good quality. Well, it's the organic house. The name suggest just that. Wrong! The bread was very dry even for a toasty, the filling was sparse and tasteless.

The blond lady began cashing up while the young girls began clearing down while at the same time having instructions barked at from across the floor. Why count up a till in the presence of customers? its very unprofessional. She was in full view of the people coming in and out of the room where the criers were. Leaving herself open and vulnerable not to mention how uncomfortable it felt hearing the sound of money being counted while feeling I had just been robbed!

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 6 September 2012

I think the great and good who run the Town Hall extension aren't bothered if the great unwashed can't afford to use their cafe. Otherwise they wouldn't have awarded the franchise in this way.

Only the terminally middle class would think £2.65 for a green tea is ok...what is the mark up on that outrageous price?

I was talking to a mate who took his two kids in and bought a cup of tea, an apple juice, an orange juice, a piece of cake (big mistake based on past experience) and a brownie.

He challenged me to guess the price . . . I went £7.

Nope . . . it seems it was £14 . . . iis that a record?

From Mo Norwood

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I would really love it if the good people of Hebden, and all it's lovely visitors, would refuse the exorbitant prices that are frequently charged here. I know I'm not alone in choosing to shop, and drink coffee, where it is affordable - and sorry to say this is less often in Hebden Bridge these days. Please encourage the boycotting of establishments that overprice - then more of us can shop locally.

From Keith L

Thursday, 13 September 2012

What a pity this great opportunity is being wasted. This cafe is in a great location and could be a real asset to Hebden. I haven't been in yet and if the prices H is quoting then that will continue to be the case. It will end up up not empty as people are having to watch what they spend and have a choice of other cafes in Hebden offering much better value.

From Andy M

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Is it not just all simple supply and demand? The 'high' prices will persist as long as the demand is there.

From Dai Hallgarth

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Very sad to learn of Victoria's experience of the unprofessional behaviour at the Town Hall Cafe. I have not returned since an abortive attempt, during the second week of opening, to sample Sunday breakfast with my family. As an early "Friend of the Town Hall", the exorbitant prices are disappointing, even more so that Organic House, a significant and pioneering enterprise when first established, should be responsible. I agree with Keith that this great opportunity is a waste of the tremendous potential within the new building. It is in a great location and should be an asset to the town, but I also have to agree with Andy, that the 'high' prices for, sometimes not very fresh, skimpy portions, will continue.

From H Gregg

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Yes Andy, unfortunately the market probably will prevail. I suspect that there are enough people in Hebden to whom price is irrelevant and so even with the high tariff it may well continue to survive. But judging by the some comments in this thread, it's not just the prices that are an issue.

However, my point is that the café in the "people's Town Hall" is accessible only to those who are more equal than others.

It's interesting to note that there is no comment in this thread from either the franchisee or from the Town Hall's board of trustees or from the Town Hall management or from any of the 600 or so members of the Town Hall Association. Surely some of them read Hebweb Forum.

To quote from their mission - "The Town Hall, Hebden Bridge provides a range of services and activities for all local people, local creative businesses and much valued visitors." Maybe that should read ". . . for some local people . . . ."

The outside seating area is a great setting and should be thronging with locals and visitors. Instead even on a busy (and relatively sunny) market day it is virtually deserted.

(Are we allowed to take a picnic there?)

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 16 September 2012

I was in London recently and thought I'd do a little market research comparing Town Hall Cafe prices to Tate Modern.

Now given the mark up you expect in (London) museums I was shocked to see the prices in the Tate were cheaper than the Town Hall Cafe.

FYI..the kids meal deal is not bad for a major national museum.

I have a degree of sympathy for Andy's supply and demand argument but this is a ugly building that purports to be an asset for all the community.

But I think it is becoming clear that this is a building created by middle England for Middle England. It should really be called the Guardian Town Hall.

The WI and Any Questions (a Radio 4 listeners wet dream) have their place but the offer needs to be much wider.

The cafe should be the natural entry point but as everyone points out it is seriously overpriced and a child could have told them that was going to happen.

I've not seen the tender but can I suggest an immediate 25% price decrease to lure people in. When you are more expensive than London museums then you are de facto excluding the majority of the population.

Or maybe they just don't care.

From Chris G

Sunday, 16 September 2012

I like the idea of a picnic. As someone who supported opening up the space I seem to remember something about it being accessible to all in the proposal. I guess we would need to bring our own seating or rug.

On another note, if you really want to sample local affordable fayre I recommend Park Life Cafe in the Park. Fantastic food, fantastic prices and they've got the loos reopened to boot.

From S Ashworth

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Looks like the cafe is now closed! It hasn't been open for weeks.

It is worrying that the trustees have not got this right? There is obviously a major problem and I'm sure tenants are fed up with lack of provision etc

My feeling is that this place could be much better used, there really doesn't seem to be the flair to do something really dynamic with the space .. To say they have so many trustees and staff, for what has in essence just become (unfortunately) an office block! It was sold to us as the creative quarter!!!

Hebden is much more creative and dynamic than this. You only need to look next door at the pop up re-opening of the Hole in the Wall (excellent cheap food by the way!)

I hope those in power at Town Hall maybe look wider about what could be done here after this cafe fiasco (whoever is at fault).

The cafe is the heart of that building and the type of business given the franchise by the trustees says everything about what they think of the people who are going to use the space and the building itself.

From Jan Scott Nelson

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Blimey. Has S Ashworth actually been to any events in the building? I was there all day on Monday doing some work, and then in the evening at an event to welcome tenants and business associates; I was there at the creative auction and have been at several arts events – the place positively buzzes. It's certainly not just 'an office block', far from it. The issue of the café aside, the new town hall, and let's not forget it only opened a few months ago, and the contractors have only just left, is thrumming with creativity and life.

From S Ashworth

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Yes I totally agree Jan, there has been some really good events held at the town hall extension and at last a social event for the tenants!

But its got some way to go before it could be described as positively 'buzzing' but yes maybe a bit harsh of me to describe it as an 'office block' but really I was just raising debate about the importance of the cafe and its metaphorical position at the heart of the building...

This place is super do ...I just think its important to keep active the debate about what it does, who its for and why decisions are made.

The Town Hall is a community building run by a tiny proportion of that community and by the staff they then selected.. so I think its important to add lots of open chatter ..ideas, criticism, offers and of course positivity!

From H Gregg

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Hebden Bridge W.I. is holding a rag market at the Town Hall on the 2nd December. Apparently they have been told that they will not be allowed to run a refreshment stall like they did last time, as there is a café there. I wonder how many of those attending, and hunting for bargains will be able to afford the café prices.

At the last rag market the refreshment stall raised about £1500 for people affected by the flood. It sounds like it won't happen this time!

If S Ashworth is right and café is now closed, maybe it's a great opportunity for a co-op to be set up to run the café. It's the sort of thing that Hebden would do well.

Is there really not anyone connected with the Town Hall watching this thread? It would be good to get a response.

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I don't think the people running the town hall want to break away from their £2.85 green teas to indulge is anything as common as answering reasonable community comments on a website.

Sherry, thanks for saying what many of are thinking...the extension does look like an office block. It is the sort of functional, not very pretty building you see all over Leeds and Manchester city centres. Given the budget they had then it was a bit naive for us to expect anything else.

I have moaned about the cafe which seems to being dealt with and we should also recognise it is early days so mistakes will be made.

If we are still facing the prospect of cups of green tea at Starbucks prices in a year or so then the alarm bells should really be ringing.

From Jason Elliott

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I have been watching this thread for a while as I too am a bit uncomfortable about the cafe situation, but I feel, in the light of S Ashworth's comment that there are "so many trustees and staff", I need to point out that there are only two full time and one part time members of staff. This is clearly insufficient as they (or at least one of them) often has to work from 9am through til quite late in the evening regularly. Add in sickness and holidays and you have a situation that is frankly unsustainable.

True, there a lot of unpaid trustees, but many of these also act as volunteers, staffing some of the numerous events there. The trustees are elected (and S Ashworth could stand if so inclined) by the 500 or so locals who are "Friends of the Town Hall" and who paid a tenner each to supported the project initially. This is hardly an opaque politburo of mysterious dictators... (Anyone can become a FOTTH; just pop in and join.)

Certainly, the cafe is an issue, and I was less than impressed by the piece of stale cake I was served there a few weeks ago, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that there are a huge amount of community events and activities that go on there, many of which (rightly) pay nothing to use the facilities.

Also, all of the available office space has been now rented to some extremely creative ventures who, as a community, we are quite lucky to have based here.

I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that, bearing in mind that builders only left a few days ago and the place is chronically understaffed, they have hit the ground running and are making a very positive impact in the town.

Having said that, if you don't like the place, there is also another excellent community centre in the shape of the Salem Mill Ground Floor Project that people can use.


From Town Hall Trustees

Friday, 5 October 2012

We regret that our arrangement with Organic House to run the Town Hall cafe and catering services did not work out as we had hoped – for either partner. Unfortunately, this means that we have had to temporarily close the cafe while we find a solution.

We already have a number of exciting options under consideration and we are working on a new range of packages for those looking to host events and functions at the Town Hall.

We understand how important the cafe is to our tenants and to the wider community and we will endeavour to quickly find a solution.

The trustees and management of the Town Hall at Hebden Bridge would like to thank Organic House for their work over the brief period of our partnership and wish them the very best of luck for the future.

From S Ashworth

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Great to be updated by the town hall and looking forward to a new start in the cafe area!

Just to correct a miss understanding earlier in the thread - I think this is a very well designed building and when i said "office block' i was actually referring to the ambience inside the building, which Im sure will change as the tenants get to know one another and people feel welcome.

Jason, it is my understanding there are 4 members of staff and 11 trustees (according to the town hall site) and now the build is finally complete things may be easier for them all!

But really my point wasn't to condemn staff or trustees but just to point to other ways of raising debate about issues and ideas etc. I understand the existing mechanisms of being a friend or trustee but that is still a small percentage of the community who can give the time that most of the retired trustees do to such a project. More i'm just suggesting new platforms of influence and dialogue.. the TH website has no obvious contact point and the blog is for the th and the Facebook site doesn't seem to be working in generating ideas/debate etc

From H Gregg

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thanks for letting us know what has happened.

I appreciate how difficult it is to determine whether a franchise will work . You only have to look at the Western Rail franchise fiasco to see why. Armed with a team of top civil servants, sophisticated analytical software and some (albeit dubious) government ministers they still messed it up. So don't feel too bad, I'm sure lessons have been learnt on both sides.

Whatever form the new Town Hall café/catering business takes, it will still be a 'business' and it might be wise to ensure that some market research and consultation over any proposed menu and pricing structure with potential users is undertaken before commencing. And to have someone, preferably with expertise in the catering industry, check projections, cashflow and profit and loss forecasts to ensure that they are realistic. Any serious venture will have prepared these.

Good luck with finding a replacement – I look forward to using the new facility.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 7 October 2012

It would be churlish not to thank the Town Hall Trustees for their considered and open response.

As I said in an earlier thread they are on a steep learning curve and I couldn't agree more with Harry Gregg re: getting pricing etc right as there is much competition in town.

But I will make sure I try the new cafe when it reopens.

I was in on Friday and it was clear to me that a busy cafe would really soften the clinical office block space.

From John Billingsley

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Earlier posts raise a good issue, that HB (and, admittedly, other tourist places like in the Dales) is extraordinarily expensive for coffee/ snacks/ sandwiches, etc. Especially now that the cheaper places have been knocked out by floods for the time being. Prices for these places are routinely higher than they are in London - Why? More competition in the Smoke keeping prices down/ (but there's a lot of competition here, too). High rents? Shopkeepers pushing up prices? Market forces or opportunism? It's a far cry from the HB I moved into in 1975! Food's a lot better though...

From Russell Andrews

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I booked the Cafe and adjacent rooms for my son's wedding reception and couldn't have been better served. Staff were polite and friendly - put in extra hours, put up with us traipsing through for two days as they tried to run the place and overall couldn't have been more helpful.

We were all from out of town and find the place to be an excellent advert for the local community.

From Barry Mills

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I agree the town hall cafe is expensive. I don't go there. What exactly is the problem?

There are times when a free market is dangerous, but this really isn't one of them. Hebden Bridge probably has more cafes per head of capita than anywhere on earth, there's loads of choice. No-one has to frequent the town hall cafe if they don't want to. No one has to frequent cafe's at all come to that, they are after all a luxury. If the cafe can do good business at those prices because of it's location, and if the council is getting rental that reflects this (we can only hope) - good luck to all concerned.

Remember, any money that doesn't come from rental for the franchise has to come from somewhere else, so the terminally middle class suckers you so deride are helping keep your council tax down.

From L Murphy

Monday, 15 October 2012

I just want to say I feel this whole business with the Town Hall Cafe is dreadful! Fair enough the prices were high, but the produce was organic and the Town Hall Committee were aware of the prices before commissioning The Organic House.

The situation could have been worked out, the Organic House were happy I believe to remove the organic label and put in place a better priced menu to suit the cliental. However all that has happened is that they have been told to leave, leaving not only the Organic House proprieter out of pocket, but also four local people without a job!

From G Golden

Monday, 15 October 2012

I don't think the management at Organic house have done justice to what was required.

It is sad that jobs have been lost but I would put the blame more on the poor management of franchisee.

I understand it was very rushed, the owner leaving for extended trip overseas at the same time it opened, leaving a team who were not properly trained or prepared.

The results spoke for themselves, a poor choice from the council.

From H Gregg

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I don't think you need worry L Murphy - if the Town Hall get it right next time (I'm sure they will) there will be far more than four jobs going. The place will be buzzing with customers.

From Susan Press

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Just to be clear the Town Council has nothing to do with franchise awarding of any kind at the Town Hall now - it has been asset transferred to the Community Association from Calderdale......like everyone else I hope they get it (affordably) right next time.

From Jack Hughes

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

So far I've stood back from commenting on this thread, largely because others seem to have articulated similar thoughts to my own, and in far more eloquent ways than I could ever hope to aspire to!

There is one point I would like to clear up, however; as I understand it, the remit for the awarding of this cafe tender was for a "community cafe". No doubt I am wholly misinformed on this (we all know how those silly Hebden Bridge rumours circulate - you may remember the 'Harry Ramsden's coming to town' fiasco that turned out to be entirely spurious/fictitious), but if that was indeed the case, I cannot help but wonder as to exactly which demographic/community was being referred to here?

Let's face it, every year there are muttered rumblings of discontent among the chattering/ nattering classes that the Arts Festival is becoming too highbrow/ elitist/ cosy liberal/ jobs-for-the-boy(s) in its programming. I don't know, I have very little or nothing to do with said festival - either as performer or audient - but I do worry about the perceived social exclusion that many complain about in Hebden Bridge nowadays.

If one has little concern for complementary therapies of dubious provenance, 2012 Spiritual Advancement workshops, 'polite' World Music / fusion projects, or bourgeois political dilletantism (whatever happened to direct action? when did individual, tokenistic acts ever do any good? er, some might say) then what is one's true metier or role in Hebden Bridge's 'society'?

I have to state at this point, I love this town. I was born here. I will probably die here. But somehow it doesn't seem like 'my' town any more - as if it's been dumbed down and priced up. I only hope that the future, post-flood culture of HB will have something for (literally) everyone, and hope that the twee embourgeoisment of so many things that I and others hold very dear will abate.

Maybe the indirect repercussions of Con-Dem 'government' will inadvertently speed up the inevitable inversion of the Hegelian dialectic, and we'll have a real Hebden Bridge 'Class War' on our hands? I'd rather not - hell, I like to get on with everyone, as best as I can - but I do get a sense that the battle lines are starting to be drawn here.

To digress, slightly . . . it has been noted that certain correspondents on this forum have been indulging in thinly-veiled attacks, usually broadly political in nature, upon the characters and behaviours of others. I would echo the Webmaster (is that term strictly PC, by the way?) in suggesting that we refrain from such personal assaults upon those who might entertain different viewpoints to our own (remember your liberal relativism here, if you have any). I might well think that, say, Craig Whittaker, might, perhaps, for example, be described, hypothetically, as 'a fish-faced enemy of the people'. However, I would not suggest that the venerable HebWeb would be a suitable place to air such views.

From Kate Westall-Ives

Thursday, 15 November 2012

I had lunch at the re-opened Town Hall cafe today. Really good home made food and sensible prices.

Well done!

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 18 November 2012

I popped in the Town Hall this afternoon and although I didn't have to stop I noticed the new cafe is open.

I did have a quick look at the fare on offer and the prices. Both seemed to me to very reasonable and I will deffo be back for a sit down.

Full marks to the new team for sensible pricing and equally full marks to the Town Hall team for listening to our legitimate concerns.

Credit where credit is due.

From Ruth Walker-Cotton

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Had lunch at the reopened cafe today.. it is much improved! really good food, more reasonable prices and really efficient service. Great to have it open again - and also to have an art exhibition to view at the same time.

From Mal Campbell

Thursday, 6 December 2012

I was in the Town Hall this morning & just wanted to pass on my experience of the new cafe.

It's perfect.

Menu is spot on with something for everyone, it's priced just right & the service was great.If you haven't been in yet, I suggest you go & see for yourself & help support this new venture. Congratulations to The Deli, Watergate Tea Rooms and, of course, the Town Hall.