Future of Halifax community centre secured

Staff at Three Ways, Ovenden.
Staff at Three Ways, Ovenden.

The future of the Threeways Centre has been secured following the withdrawal of proposals which could have seen the council go back on its plans to rent offices at the site.

The business plan for the former Ridings School, Ovenden, Halifax, was predicted on Calderdale Council acting as long-term tenants.

However, the centre’s future was briefly cast into doubt when members of the Conservative group said they were going to be reviewing the use of all council offices in the Halifax area.

Amendments forcing a vote on the issue were pushed forward by the Labour group at full council, and the Conservative-led administration was forced to back down.

Threeways board member Calderdale councillor Dan Sutherland (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said: “The Ridings was sat empty costing the Council £250,000 per year in maintenance when the community took it on.

“Not only have they saved the council money, they are creating a community hub which is transforming lives by giving people a chance to prove themselves and get into work.

“It was economic madness that the Tories were looking at pulling the plug but now it has been saved we hope that Stephen Baines and his Cabinet will take the time to come and see the work for themselves.”

Councillor Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said: “Scott Benton (deputy council leader) tried and tried to resist, but unfortunately for him his own leader had been forced earlier in the debate to support the previous council’s intentions to relocate the staff there.

He added: “The Cabinet lost virtually every vote at full council.

“This is an administration that has just been put with support from the Liberals and Independents that can’t get its own business through council - it’s an extraordinary situation.”

Councillor Stephen Baines, Conservative leader of Calderdale Council, said: “When we came into power, we knew there was only one person difference - 26 to 25.

“We had one person who was away on holiday so the Labour group could put forward all their votes.

“It does seem strange that Tim Swift (leader of the Labour group on Calderdale Council) didn’t have the guts to challenge for the leadership,” added Coun Baines who represents Northowram and Shelf.