TOWN HALL FUTURE SECURE
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
THE FUTURE of Hebden Bridge’s Town Hall is secure, after last night’s landmark decision by Calderdale council’s Cabinet to transfer the historic building to a community-run charitable trust.
The decision means that Hebden Bridge is to become one of the first towns in the country to take direct responsibility for running its own Town Hall building.
The transfer will be made to Hebden Bridge Community Association, a registered charity specially established for the purpose of running the Town Hall. The Association is member-controlled and has the support of over 450 local people who have signed up as members and Friends of the Town Hall. The local town and parish councils and many community organisations are also giving their support.
In the short-term, the Association is planning to bring a current empty hall back into use and to renovate existing poorly-used meeting space. At the same time an ambitious £4m project is under way which would see a set of new buildings constructed on currently vacant land next to the Town Hall, to provide both a small enterprise centre and new community facilities.
Under the terms agreed, Hebden Bridge Community Association will acquire a forty-year leasehold of the Town Hall building from the council. Calderdale will remain as one of the building’s users and will become a tenant of the Association.
Andrew Bibby, Hebden Bridge Community Association trustee said:
“This is an historic decision, which will ensure that one of the finest buildings in our town continues to be a focal point in community life for many year to come. This is the culmination of more than two years’ detailed discussions with Calderdale, and of plenty of hard work by many in our community, all unpaid. We have undertaken a detailed business planning process to demonstrate that the Town Hall will be sustainable financially in the long-term under community control.”
Hebden Bridge Town Hall, originally owned by the former urban district council, passed into Calderdale’s control following 1974 local government reorganisation. As with civic buildings in other similar-sized towns, its long-term function has been unclear. Asset transfer to community ownership enables direct community engagement in a key local building. It also gives access to capital funding not available to local authorities
Cllr Ian Cooper, Calderdale portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities said: “This is a great project and I am happy that we have had the chance to be involved in a scheme which will give local people more influence and a greater sense of identity. Once up and running, the hub will help to strengthen community cohesion and develop business opportunities. As a Council we want to preserve the borough’s heritage and develop local business and talent. This scheme will help us to do just that”.
Lib Dem ward councillor Janet Battye, who has been actively engaged in the initiative and is a trustees of the Association, said: “What Hebden Bridge is pioneering is a new way of looking after public assets. This is an enormously exciting development which I believe will secure the future of the Town Hall for the very long-term. What we’re seeing today is the same community pride which was there when the Town Hall was first put up in 1897.”
Open Doors at Town Hall attracts hundreds
One of England’s smallest parishes makes big contribution towards plans for Hebden Bridge's Town Hall
Two major grants boost Town Hall Project
Hebden Bridge Town Hall project
Town Hall Group seeks 'Friends' (April 2009)
Hebden Bridge Town Hall project: Transfer of Town Hall to community ownership one step closer (March 2009)
Hebweb News: New Charity created to manage Town Hall (Jan 2009)
Hebweb News: Government gives thumbs up to Hebden Bridge Town Hall plans (July 2008)
Hebweb News: Plans to putTown Hall once again at the heart of local life (October 2007)
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