Orangebox draining resources as board looks to give up control

Orange Box, Halifax.
Orange Box, Halifax.

The board which runs the Orangebox wants to relenquish control due the financial pressures it faces and the risk it could have on the future of the Square Chapel organisation.

Square Chapel Trust currently occupies the Orangebox under a 125 year lease agreement.

At various stages in the development, elected members and Calderdale Council officers have participated via a voluntary management committee. Most recently the facility has been more directly overseen by the Square Chapel Board of Trustees.

However, in February the Square Chapel informally outlined their position to the Council seeking to relinquish their responsibilities and the lease for the Orangebox.

Stuart Smith, the Council’s director for adult and children services, said: “The Orangebox itself has struggled to generate a revenue funding stream sufficient to meet basic operating costs.

“The adjacent Square Chapel management capacity has for the past two years taken responsibility for the management and operation of the site.

“Square Chapel has had to subsidise the operating costs of Orangebox, they too have struggled to establish a viable business plan and find the drain on overall resources to be a financial risk to the Square Chapel organisation.”

The Orangebox facility was established under the ‘My Place Central Government Funding Regime in 2010.

The building must provide appropriate and purposeful formal and informal activities for young people with a focus on the teenage/young adult age range as a condition of the funding.

Since the request by Square Chapel, council officers have discussed informally with the Calderdale College principal and the College’s governing board, the possibility of the college taking operational responsibility for the site including financial responsibility for the revenue funding and capital costs of maintaining the facility.

According to Mr Smith the college is considering innovative plans in relation to creative and media courses that would provide a unique vocational pathway for young people that would exploit and maximise the facilities available at Orangebox.

The Council’s Cabinet will meet at Halifax Town Hall on June 19 at 6pm to make a decision on starting the process to hand control of the Orangebox over to Calderdale College.

It is being recommended to councillors to authorise Mr Smith and the head of the democratic and partnership services to draw up a lease that enables Calderdale college to occupy the premises as a tenant under a new lease in place of Square Chapel Trust subject to the continued occupation of existing users to ensure current tenants and other informal youth work activities could continue and to maintain the confidence of the original grant funding provider in respect of appropriate use of the facility.