Over 1,000 people sign petition to save Sowerby Bridge cafe threatened by market hall demolition

There is hope a well-supported café might be saved despite the market which houses it being earmarked for demolition.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 9:04 am
The Pavilion Cafe at the front of Sowerby Bridge Market. Picture: Google
The Pavilion Cafe at the front of Sowerby Bridge Market. Picture: Google

Councillors were told 1,600 people signed a petition to save the Pavilion Cafe at Sowerby Bridge Market, which is to be knocked down and a public square created in its place.

But owner Joy Ashworth said the café was well-used and should have a future.

“We want to save our business and save our café.

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“We have had no sight of proposed plans, we have had nothing to say what is being pulled down and what is going to be.

“The market is to be demolished but hopefully we can save the café.”

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Place Scrutiny Board councillors heard the market moved from Station Road to newly built premises on the main Wharf Street in 2007 but since 2015 falling occupancy meant a struggle to be financially viable.

But Ms Ashworth said the café itself was thriving and if forced to close five staff members would lose their jobs and local businesses which supplied the café affected.

Ultimately the many customers who used the café, including groups from dog walking, cycling, golf and angling clubs, would lose out, she said.

“We cater for a lot of people – it is a local meeting point and people travel from far and wide to our café,” said Ms Ashworth.

Steven Lee, the council’s assistant director for strategic infrastructure, said plans for the space included temporary markets among other events – there had been statutory consultation.

Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), who is on Sowerby Bridge Town Board and declared an interest as such, said the town board, which requested creation of the public space, had made a commitment to use a small amount of money to build a café in the old toilet block.

“We do have a commitment to make that a viable option – but it is still in the planning stage,” she said.

She recommended the council worked with the town board on ways to retain the café, and on ensuring traders were kept informed about what was happening.

Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said there had to be a way not to close a business and Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the council should not be taking away a vibrant facility.

Coun Stephanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said proposals showed a way forward and Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) said sense of decency indicated Ms Ashworth should be allowed to take it on.

The council’s Director of Regeneration and Strategy, Shelagh O’Neill, said she was content to work with recommendations proposed by Coun Smith and agreed by the board but legal tendering processes had to be followed.

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