Will shutting Shibden in winter save cash?

5 August 2011  ..........   Shibden Hall Halifax
5 August 2011 .......... Shibden Hall Halifax

PARKING charges, the recession and bad weather are being blamed for taking the gloss off one of Calderdale’s premier visitor attractions.

Now councillors are planning to close Shibden Hall during mid winter and shorten the opening hours in the autumn and winter.

Bankfield Museum and Smith Art Gallery, in Brighouse, will also have their opening hours reduced from November, if the Lib-Lab coalition budget proposals to save £30,000 are approved.

Between 2007 and 2008, more than £6 million was spent on restoring and upgrading the Shibden Park estate.

During construction work, the number of visitors to Shibden Hall fell to little more than 16,000 but in 2009 and 2010, they returned in their droves and entry ticket sales shot up to 21,331 in 2010/11.

The success was short lived as from April to December 2011 last year there were just 16,257 visitors.

During August, usually one of the busiest months, the number as down by 40 per cent - from 2,750 in 2010 to 1,615 and in September down from 1,621 to 1,064.

According to Calderdale Council’s community services director Robin Tuddenham: “Visitors to Shibden Hall have been confused by the information on parking charges as they have been unsure if they have applied to the car parks they have used.” Charges were introduced on the lower car park last April but don’t apply to the Shibden Hall Road car park. The charge has now been set at 30p an hour.

Community services spokeswoman Coun Pauline Nash (Skircoat) said Shibden Hall visitor numbers had been affected last summer by the adverse weather.