Council could face battle to sell Heath Centre as opposition grows

Heath Training and Development Centre, Halifax.
Heath Training and Development Centre, Halifax.
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Users of one of Calderdale’s biggest training centres say they will fight to keep it open.

Heath Training and Development Centre faces being sold off to generate money for the proposed new library in Halifax town centre after councillors voted in favour of the closure.

The centre, in Free School Lane in Halifax, is used by 63 groups for activities including meetings, music classes and sport.

Accounts supplied by the Charity Commission from 2009 suggest the building could be worth as much as £4.9million.

The buildings and land, which used to house Heath Grammar School, are owned by the Heath Charity which has Calderdale Council as its only trustee.

But the Friends of Heath, who held a public meeting to highlight the threat of closure, believe the council does not have the right to sell the buildings to fund a new library. Graham McIntyre, who ran the meeting of 60 concerned users, said: “Any proceeds from the sale of the building or land should go back into the charity, and I don’t think relocating Northgate House is in the best interests of the charity.”

Graham is also a keen fives player, and Heath Centre currently has the only courts in Yorkshire.

“It’s a sport that is growing in popularity and having these courts brings people into Calderdale, so I think it’s important we keep them,” he said.

Kim Atkinson, of Calderdale Music Service, said: “We’re going to be made homeless just at the time we’re going to become properly established.

“In a fortnight we submit our proposal to become hub leader as part of the national music plan and using Heath is crucial to that.

“I thought it was a done deal that it was going to be sold, but now I’m hopeful that it might not be. If we could save it, that would be fantastic.”

Helen Roberts, from Halifax Convivial Society which meets at the centre, added: “After the amount of money that has been put into this building. to make it what it is today, suggesting that it be sold is ridiculous.”

Cabinet member Pauline Nash and ward councillor in Skircoat, where the centre is located, told the meeting: “I’ve listened to what people had to say and I’m aware of the strength of feeling. When this was first mentioned I said there would be problems.

“Part of my duty is to reflect these views to the cabinet and that’s what I will do.”

There were also calls for a full consultation on any possible closure by Coun Graham Hall (Con, Hipperholme and Lightclife).