Campaigners aiming to save a park bandstand from demolition are working on a business plan they hope will lead to an asset transfer of the structure to a newly formed community group.
Save Our Bandstand has been formed since Calderdale Council’s Cabinet voted to demolish the bandstand in Centre Vale Park, Todmorden, replacing it with a performance space.
The bandstand was rebuilt from the plans of the 1914 original following a blaze 20 years ago, but over the last decade has suffered more vandalism and attempts to set it on fire and is fenced off for safety reasons.
Officers say it would need £300,000 to rebuild it to the original specification while Cabinet’s chosen option would cost around £50,000.
Campaigners believe they can restore the bandstand for less money but as well as exploring costings are planning to ensure it has an active future.
Chair of the newly-formed group, which has already met twice and spoken to Todmorden Town Council, Deborah Farrington said the bandstand was iconic to people in Todmorden and they hoped to plan a future where it could be used for a wide range of events for all the community.
She said the group realised they had to present a business plan to show the bandstand could have a sustainable future to first Todmorden Council and ultimately Calderdale, with the aim of asking for the bandstand to be asset transferred to them, possibly in partnership with the town council.
As Cabinet has made its decision, time is limited – at the Cabinet meeting Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said planning permission for the demolition and replacement would have to be obtained and options could be explored while this was being done.
Two well-attended public meetings had now seen a committee formed and petitions to ask for a stay of execution for the bandstand, which she urged people to sign, were out in many shops, cafes and pubs in the town, said Deborah.
“It is in a conservation area, it is an asset that needs to be preserved. They have to prove it is in the best interests of the people to demolish – and it isn’t,” she said.
The council argues £40,000 to make it safe as it is would waste money and it could not afford the £300,000 original specification costs which would still be at risk from vandalism, while the £50,000 plan could see a new performance space which could be developed over the years.
Deborah said campaigners felt the bandstand had not been repaired and maintained after vandalism attempts, leading to it being unable to be used.
“It was a catastrophic failure on the part of the council not to repair it when it was damaged,” she said.
Although it would cost money the council had £50,000 committed and the group believed work could be done for less than £300,000 if it was asset transferred.
Campaigners understood Calderdale did not have money available for projects like this.
“But it is about protecting our heritage. That is important,” she said.
Working on a business plan to show it could have a future in which it was repaired and rebuilt, used by all sections of the community and better protected from vandalism attempts was a way forward, said Deborah.
A Save Our Bandstand Facebook page was being set up and the group could be contacted through that if anyone wanted to weigh in with support and ideas. They can also contact the group by emailing Deborah – firstname.lastname@example.org – she said.
In the meantime opposition councillors have called-in Cabinet’s decision and Calderdale Council’s Place Scrutiny Board will debate it on Tuesday evening at Halifax Town Hall (August 20, from 6pm).