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Campaign to Save Calder College

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

'Save our College, Keep our Knowledge!'

'Save our College, Keep our Knowledge!' was one of the battle cries of the scores of people who braved the rain on Sunday to demonstrate against the proposed sell-off of one of the last remaining community resources in Todmorden. Calder College is a valuable resource which has been well-used by people living throughout the Upper Valley.

Calder College

Puppets and props provided by the Handmade Parade

Puppets and props provided by the Handmade Parade, who use the college annually for workshops in preparation for events in Todmorden, complemented the many handmade placards visible on the demo. Local musicians also turned out to liven up proceedings as the demonstration marched from the college into town and back. Former students at the college also came along, including Russell Taylor, who attended the first ever class at the college on 19th September 1955.

One resident Sofie Corfield explained why she felt it was important to demonstrate. “We don't have much community space in Todmorden, so when I heard that Calderdale Council were attempting to sell off another of our assets to Aldi, I felt strongly that we had to make a stand. With Ferney Lee school being demolished soon, all those community clubs that use that building will have nowhere to meet, and might have to end. The college would be ideal if we could take it into community ownership and open it up. After all, once it's gone, it's gone forever.”

Save Calder College

Children and parents from the children's centre at the college were in attendance, and one parent, Louisa Needham commented, “We love our centre, and if there is a million pounds available from council funds for a new children's centre, we would much rather keep the centre we've got, and spend the money renovating the rest of the college to make it accessible to all. There are so many different groups and people who could put this site to better use than yet another discount supermarket that Todmorden doesn't need.”

Save Our College In Todmorden (SOCIT)

The demo was organised by Save Our College In Todmorden (SOCIT)  [1], a new group that has sprung from the anger residents felt in response to the decision to sell and demolish the college. An alternative business plan has been put together by the group, spearheaded by Barbara Jones, principal of the School Of Natural Building and Nick Green of Incredible Edible Farm. 

As well as continued use as a centre of learning the college’s community rooms, gym and hall could all be hired out.  The group wishes to save it from demolition and transform it into a National Centre for the teaching of Natural Building skills, Agro-ecology and micro-generation.

Barbara states,“Although CMBC have said they will consider our proposal, they are far advanced in agreeing a deal with Aldi supermarket to demolish the College and allow Aldi to build a much bigger store than it already has planning permission for. The CMBC Cabinet meeting on April 5th will decide this, and are of the opinion that most people in Todmorden support the demolition of the College and agree with having a larger supermarket.”

This goes contrary to online and paper petitions where approximately one thousand signatures have been gathered.  The group, who sincerely believe the new proposal could really put Todmorden on the map, (and add to existing pioneers such as Incredible Edible) must now wait to see whether Calderdale Council acknowledges the wishes of the Todmorden people and allows the college to be retained by the community into the future.

Above: Save Our College Campaign on ITV

Dates for your diary

There are two fundraisers; 17th March with DJs Kismet and Daz & Dave, 23rd March at the Trades Club, as well as an exhibition in Platform One Gallery. 

To offer financial support, please click here