Friday, 16 October 2009

See below for earlier story

Town HallHebden Bridge Town Hall was buzzing with activity and ideas last Thursday (October 8) when 230 local people took part in 'Open House' consultation events, linked to plans to transfer the buildings into the control of a locally-managed charitable trust.

During the morning, pupils who are members of Riverside School’s School Council were invited to give their own ideas for the future development of the building. They were shown round the council debating chamber by the Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council, and then met trustees from Hebden Bridge Community Association and the newly appointed architects for the project, Leeds-based firm Bauman Lyons.

They were followed later in the day by a party of school students from Calder High, who also worked closely with the architects and trustees on possible ideas for the Town Hall. Mr Chris Sylge, Deputy Headteacher of Calder High, says: "This regeneration project represents a wonderful opportunity to reinvent an under-used community resource and as such it is critical that our young people are able to have a voice in both the functional and design aspects of its redesign. I was delighted, but not surprised, at the quality of the discussion and opinion exhibited by our students in the consultation process. As a specialist Technology College, Calder High has a strong, creative, design-led character, and I knew our students would be able to make a great contribution. But frankly I was stunned by the quality of thinking and the superb design ideas our students were providing."

At 5pm, the Town Hall threw open its doors to all, and about two hundred people took the chance to explore the whole building. They saw rooms up dusty staircases they never knew existed and enjoyed entertainment from a range of local people who gave their time for free including Calder Valley Voices, bluegrass duo 'Cow Baby', artists from 59 steps, local magician Johnny McQuade, classical guitarist Fingal Plumpton, and members of Hebden Bridge Local History Society.

After the tours, visitors were given the opportunity to meet the architects, see work done by the pupils earlier in the day, put forward their ideas and comments, and enjoy home-made cakes and refreshments.

Trustee Sara Robinson said, '”We are delighted by the response to our Open Doors event, and the wide range of individuals and community groups who came to be a part of it. The Town Hall, its history and its future potential is clearly something many people care about. We have collected hundreds of ideas and comments which will be summarised and added to our website shortly. Lets keep up this positive and constructive discussion so that we can ensure the building’s long term future for everyone in Hebden Bridge and district.”

The day was concluded in the evening with the first AGM of the recently created charitable trust Hebden Bridge Community Association. Fifty members attended, and heard reports from the interim project team on progress to date. The result of the first election of trustees of the Association was also announced, by returning officer David Dempsey of Hebden Royd Town Council. Thirteen members had stood for election, and a total of 139 members voted. The ten elected trustees are: Janet Battye, Andrew Bibby, Robin Dixon, Sue Fenton, Peter Hirst, Karen Houghton, Sarah Moss, Dr Linda Patterson, Derrick Palmer, and Sara Robinson.

Friends Of Town Hall plan open doorsl

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Town HallIt will be open doors at Hebden Bridge’s Town Hall on Thursday October 8th, when the charitable trust which is leading the community bid to take over management of the Town Hall will be sharing its plans and ideas for the future of this landmark building.

From 5pm until 7pm there will be a chance to look around the whole building and meet the volunteer trustees of Hebden Bridge Community Association, the charity established to undertake an ‘asset transfer’ of the Town Hall into community control. “Everyone is welcome to drop in anytime between 5pm - 7pm, find out more and tell us how they'd like to see the building developed. There'll be free tea and cakes, a trail around the building with some surprises thrown in and a chance to meet the new architects,” says Sara Robinson, one of the trustees. “We have musicians and entertainers coming along, as well as local historians so there should be a good atmosphere.”.

The open doors session will be followed at 7.30pm by the first AGM of Hebden Bridge Community Association, when individuals and organisations who have signed up as Friends of the Town Hall will be given a detailed account of current developments. Over 450 adults, children and local organisations have now joined as Friends.

The project to ensure a long-term sustainable future for the Town Hall, currently partly empty following the closure of several offices, dates back several years, and has the support of Hebden Bridge Partnership, Hebden Royd Town Council and the four rural parish councils as well as many other local organisations. It received a strong boost following 2007 recommendations from the government to local authorities to consider asset transfer of key public buildings into accountable community control, and the Town Hall was identified last year by Calderdale as a pilot for transfer. Hebden Bridge Community Association has been established specifically for this purpose, with a constitution which encourages democratic participation by all living and working locally.

“Too many key buildings have been lost in Hebden Bridge in recent years, and we are determined that this won’t happen for the Town Hall. We’re developing detailed plans which we believe will not only secure the long-term financial future of the building under democratic community control but will also improve dramatically the facilities available in the building for local groups to us,” Sara Robinson says.

As well as the open doors session, groups of children and young people from Calder High and Riverside will be visiting the Town Hall earlier in the day, to discuss their own ideas for how the building can be used. “We’re planning for the Town Hall for the next fifty years, so it’s vital that we listen to what our young people want,” Sara Robinson adds.

Hebden Bridge Community Association has got off to a strong start in terms of its declared desire for community participation, with thirteen people having put their names forward for the ten places as trustees of the charity. Ballot papers are being sent out to Friends of the Town Hall this week and the result of the election will be declared at the end of the Association’s AGM on the 8th.

The detailed submission from the Association to Calderdale, which sets out the proposed arrangements for the asset transfer, is currently being considered by Calderdale council, and a response is expected shortly. The submission includes a pledge to maintain the existing use of the building being made by the town and parish councils, and by the Light Opera society and Youth Theatre. Calderdale is also assessing a separate rival bid by the Light Opera society to take over extra space in the buildings for their own use.

Full details of the Town Hall project, including the asset transfer proposals, are available at, where it is also possible to join as a Friend of the project.


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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