Campaigners are gearing up fight proposals to close Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre - an option in the crrent process to settle Calderdale Council’s budgets for 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The “savings option” section of proposal papers available to see on the council’s website www.calderdale.com includes closing the Hebden Bridge centre, saving £50,000 in each of 2019-20 and 2020-21, with the number of staff likely to be at risk to be confirmed. Halifax’s Vistor Centre is also be at risk.
The options paper says: “The Visitor Centre in Central Library is a shared desk facility and could be closed relatively quickly. However, Hebden Bridge is in rented premises and so would require a break of the lease. There would need to be consultation with public/staff/Trade Unions and appropriate HR processes. Closures could take place from October 2018.”
The document says the rationale behind closure would be that “these are discretionary services and there are increasingly alternative ways to provide information using digital technology. There may be opportunities to provide more information on-line or by other services broadening their scope.”
It acknowleged major risks, pointing out tourism is an important a d growing part of Calderdale’s economy, contributing around £300m per year. It might be possible to provide basic information from Hebden Bridge Town Hall.
Hebden Bridge Walkers Action Group has opposed the proposals, highlighting tourism’s importance to the Hebden Royd economy especially. The group claims the Visit Calderdale website is not fit for purpose as an on-line replacement as it stands. Static, unstaffed provision of leaflets would not meet visitors’ needs. Options to save money could include reducing days or hours seasonally and it was easier to find alternative viable options for Halifax if that centre was closed, says the group.