Hebden Bridge Partnership's celebration of community and activist groups

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Not many people living in Hebden Bridge are aware of the Hebden Bridge Partnership. Many of those who are regard it as some kind of shadowy organisation of unelected people attempting to interfere with Hebden Bridge life as we know it. An impression which may have been reinforced yesterday evening on discovering that David Fletcher chairs the meetings.

However, Hebden Bridge Partnership should congratulate itself for holding an astonishing event, upstairs at the White Lion. Local community and activist groups were invited to speak for three minutes to summarise their activities. Every contribution was interesting, many delivered with humour. Those present were able to witness first hand what an exciting, vibrant and distinctive town we are lucky enough to live in. There's so much going on.

Local History - Di Monahan

The Hebden Bridge Local History Society runs a Winter programme of 12 lectures and usually six activities during the summer. Membership has increased to around 150, and recently sub-groups have been created for prehistory, and family history. The Society now has a plan of all listed buildings in Hebden Bridge which may be viewed at the library.


Dodnaze Community Centre - Jean Delahay

The Dodnaze Community Association was set up in 2001 in order to provide opportunities and activities for the residents of Dodnaze and the surrounding hillside.

Acitvities include, toddler groups, yoga, After School Club, art group, computer groupand a healthy weight group is about to start. The main problem is funding, and they would welcome advice on this.

The Community Centre is also available to hire at £5 an hour for classes, groups and children’s parties.

Upper Calder Valley Renaissance - Hilary Myers

Following the consultation by John Thompson & partners in 2003, a company limited by guarantee was established in March 2004 “to promote, enhance and advance the economic regeneration, social condition, culture and character of the Upper Calder Valley and its environs; in ways which respect and conserve the area’s unique physical and cultural heritage, harnessing the time, energy and spirit of residents for the economic, social and environmental well-being of the whole community.” 

Co-ordinates and networks volunteer groups. Sees the Upper Calder Valley has being greater than the sum of its parts. The current focus is the Rochdale Canal and the vision of making it a linear park through our region.


Alternative Technology Centre - Polly Webber

Polly described how the ATC (Alternative Technology Centre) has been based in the centre of Hebden Bridge for 9 years. Its aim is to make sustainability simply irresistible, to help people improve their quality of life - sustainably - and to make it fun! They give advice and support on all areas of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental and work from a strong community base.

A recent initiative is the Valley Food Group - 120 people attended the meeting about allotments. A Food Festival is palnned for the Spring. Much of the ATC work is around energy, giving advice on energy savings. They are also looking at the potential for renewable energy in the valley.


Friends of Hebden Bridge Station - Lesley Mackay

This group was created in 2007 with the aim of improving the station and the surrounding areas. They work in partnership with other stations groups . On 15th December, they are organiising carol singing along the Caldervale line. The next meeting is 16th October at the station: all welcome.

Hebden Bridge Junior Band - Marc Collett

Marc explained that the Junior Band, separate to the Hebden Bridge Brass Band, is run by parents and carers, and is an opportunity for young people to learn an instrument. It is open to all youngsters in the area aged 7-19 has has a fair spread across the age range. 50 youngsters are involved and 24 lessons are provided every week. They have an A band and a B band which perform 30-40 times a year. They regularly do new projects, eg, Ska, and trips.


Hebden Bridge International Group - Dave Parry

Hebden Bridge and District International Group exists to promote and develop social, cultural, educational, recreational, economic and municipal links between the area and local communities in other countries. The Hebden Bridge European Group has been active since the early 1970's and developed many positive links with our twinned communities in that time. In 1995, the group became the Hebden Bridge and District International Group, a change which recognises the wider international links that are developing and reflects the broader geographic area from which membership is drawn.

Hebden Royd has been twinned with St Pol-Sur-Ternoise in northern France since 1979 and, since 1995, with Warstein in Germany. The International Group plays a central role in developing and maintaining these twinning links and is also actively involved in the wider twin links throughout Calderdale.

Dave said not to be put off by not being able to speak another langugage. He doesn't and it has never been a problem.

Hebden Bridge Walkers Action Group - Gwen Goddard

There are now three waymarked walks in the Hebden Bridge area, as well as a series of gentle walks. Other projects have included the "adopt a grid square", and the Stepping Out photographic exhibition of local stone steps. The spin off Walkers are Welcome initiative provides enormous good publicity for Hebden Bridge. Every time there is a new Walkers are Welcome town, Hebden Bridge is talked about as the first one!


John Fawcett Centre at the Hope Baptist Church - Gerard Liston

Gerard referred to the Hope Baptist Church as being "the finest building in Hebden Bridge" and outlined exciting plans for the proposed John Fawcett Centre, including a public green area - provided by the garden currently obscured behind the bus shelter, social housing, provided by the old minister's house, a meeting room in the space at the back of the chapel building,
a Social Action Area, providing affordable space on the ground floor of the chapel and a congregation area - a large area in the chapel for worship, performances and gatherings. On 22nd November, the Church will be having an open day.


Sustainable Transport Group - Lesley Mackay

A valley wide group which has recently been concentrating on air quality, cycling, slowing down traffic, improving the A646 and the campaign against the loss of railways services to Mytholmroyd.

Big Shed Arts - Paula Chambers

Another new group seeking studio space for artists and arts activities, workshops, galleries and cafe. The next fundraising event will be a ball on 6th December - people are invited to come dressed as a work of art. The group are currently in negotiations to use the former Pitt Street Adult Education Centre.

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival - Rebecca Yorke

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival runs an annual two-week arts festival, celebrating art, music, drama, dance and all other artforms. It is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.

The Board is a group of committed individuals with a wide range of skills and experience. They meet approximately six times during the year but much work is done between meetings by email. Day to day administration and organisation of the Festival is handled by a freelance administrator, Rebecca Yorke, in consultation with the Chair and other Board members.

The Festival also has a strong core of 30+ volunteers who staff the box office, help distribute programmes and posters and steward events. The Festival could not survive without these volunteers and the support in kind offered by Board members. New faces are always welcome!

The Festival generates income through the box office and has also received financial assistance on a project basis from ACE Yorkshire, Calderdale MBC and Hebden Royd Town Council. In addition, we have built relationships with companies including Sweet & Maxwell, HBOS and Cottages4you, all of whom sponsored the 2008 Festival.

Now in its 16th year, the Festival has grown from strength to strength, gaining national press attention and attracting “big names” of the arts world to the valley. Recent guests include Ed Byrne, Blake Morrison, Ian Macmillan, Maria McKee, Jeremy Hardy and Martin Roscoe.

The Festival’s office at New Oxford House, Albert Street, Hebden Bridge is available for use as a gallery for local artists, helping the Festival to strengthen links with the community. Where possible, the Festival uses local businesses and services and strives to contribute to the local economy by attracting performers and visitors into the area.

2009 Festival: Saturday 28 June – Sunday 12 July 09.


Big Green Weekend - Jason Elliott

The 2008 Big Green Weekend was very successful and plans are well under way for 2009. There will be workshops, sculpture trail, a talk by writer Elaine Morgan, the launch of Hebden Bridge as a transition town and street organisation organised by Andrew Kim. The next meeting is on 17th November at the Hole in the Wall.


Enabling Theatre - Susan Quick

Using theatre and drama to look at issues around enabling disabled people. They have ambitious plans to put short plays on radio plays where listeners will be invited to give feedback.

Friends of Nutclough Woods - Kate Berridge

There are about 80 members of this group seeking to protect these woods. The group has been turning into an educational group for disadvantaged people. There are regular woodland works days which have included teams from HBOS, and yesterday, a team of nine gay men, all of whom enjoy the education and relaxation the woods offer. The group urgently needs fundraisers.

Camera Club - Michael Newton

The club split off from the Lit and Sci (Photography section). Recently, there has been a new vigour about the organisation. Digital photography has inspired people and allows more risks to be taken. Doing more in the community.

HEADS - Lee Comer

The arts group is in a stage of transition. The Handmade Parade was done in conjunction with Andrew Kim of Thingumajig Theatre. HEADS currently has difficulty with funding and will be continuing without paid staff, relying instread on part-time freelancers. 20th June is the provisional date for next year's parade.


Little Theatre - Ray Riches

The Little Theatre moved from one place to another before finally having its own proper theatre in 1983 and had its roots in Lit and Sci. It used the Trades Club from 1937 until 1977. There are now plans to build and second storey over the bar area, for researsals, changing room and women's toilet.

Civic Trust - Nicola Milburn-Jones

The recently resurrected Civic Trust is run by a small committee and welcomes new members. £5 gives lifetime membership. It was recently involved with the Heritage Day. The AGM will be on 21st October.

Pennine Heritage - David Fletcher

Pennine Heritage goes back 30 years and was formed to save the former Birchcliffe Baptist Chapel and has since been involved in saving several buildings, eg, Nutclough. It has recently allied with the Alice Longstaff Collection and the local history society. The Pennine Museum will be at the former Youth House, and provide a common archive for the area.

Hebden Bridge Town Hall project - Andrew Bibby

A project team of Hebden Bridge Partnership Ltd, in conjunction with a joint Town Council/Parish Councils working group, is in detailed discussions with Calderdale MBC over the proposed transfer of Hebden Bridge Town Hall (Council offices) into community control. Andrew claims this building as the finest in Hebden Bridge

A bid for £830K capital works on this landmark building, produced by the project team at short notice last Autumn for the Community Assets Programme, was shortlisted but eventually unsuccessful, but negotiations with Calderdale over an asset transfer agreement for the building have progressed relatively well. The project team is now exploring other funding avenues. The project aims to create a new public hall/function room for the town, using currently empty offices, as well as the base for local public and community services. A proposed small business centre is also being researched.

As part of this process, a new not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, Hebden Bridge Community Association Ltd, has recently been established as the legal vehicle for the asset transfer.

Initial steps are being taken now to create a framework for democratic control. Steps need to be taken, at the very outset, to avoid the risk that control of such a focal point of community life could pass, at some point in the future, into the hands of an unrepresentative and unaccountable group. For this reason, a major membership drive to recruit Friends of the Town Hall will be launched soon. Your support is solicited.


Market to Lees Yard

Cllr Janet Battye reported on the plans to move the market to Lees Yard. There will be 30 permanent stalls, and an outline planning application will be made soon when certain legalities are ironed out. It is thought that there are funds from Calderdale which could be used to finance this. The market would be open 5 days a week, offering different themes.

Central Street improvements

Cllr Janet Battye was optimistic that improvement work should be agreed by Calderdale very soon. Many of the existing setts will be kept.

Friends of Calder Holmes - Lesley Jones

The lottery grant enabled lots of changes and activities. The pavilion offered tea and refreshments, and a youth club two nights a week during the summer. The bowling green is now in good shape and will be used again next year. Hebden Royd Town Council has been monitoring the park and emptying of bins. The park is cleaner and safer but the group needs more members and volunteers.

We were told that the Hebden Bridge Partnership is a forum for discussing the agenda for the regeneration of the community. If this means the fostering the development and enthusiasm of the groups we heard about yesterday evening then long may it continue.

If you have any spare time, many of the groups still need more members to thrive as they should.


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