Calderdale residents remember tireless campaigner in battle to keep green land

Residents protest at Horley Green, and remember Thelma Atkinson, who played a big part in a previous campaign to halt the lands sale. Pictures: Kalem Arnold
Residents protest at Horley Green, and remember Thelma Atkinson, who played a big part in a previous campaign to halt the lands sale. Pictures: Kalem Arnold

Campaigners fighting council moves to dispose of land they have used for play and exercise are remembering a resident who helped successfully fight off attempts to sell it in the past.

Residents at Claremount, Halifax, say if Calderdale Council plans to sell the land at Horley Green Road to housing partners to develop affordable homes then they will lose their last green space.

They want the council to asset transfer the land into community stewardship. The council has said it will consider their application but it may depend on them demonstrating how they can enhance use of the space.

Residents are now working on proposals and are drawing inspiration from the late Thelma Atkinson, who passed away last year.

Back in 1995, Thelma tirelessly campaigned to prevent a housing development being built at Horley Green, talking to residents, gathering campaign petition signatures, delivering these to the council, and keeping Claremount residents informed of progress, helped by friends, residents, then ward councillor Ron Thrower and then Halifax MP Alice Mahon.

The council’s Cabinet says the 29 affordable homes which would be developed are much needed, with a 700-strong waiting list for the area.

But residents argue the green space provides a safe place for all ages to play and exercise and they also have concerns about whether the area’s infrastructure, including schools, can cope with any more homes and the impact extra traffic would have on air quality.

Speaking for the residents, Nicole Jones said Thelma’s family were disappointed to find the land was under threat again and Thelma’s daughter, Lorraine Clayton, is part of the team now looking into the Community Asset Transfer.

Nicole said: “In 1995 Thelma campaigned tirelessly with the support of some of her friends and local residents to prevent a housing development on Horley Green as this was an open space which she loved to use.

“The housing development did not proceed as a result of the level of objection arising from Thelma’s efforts and a site assessment which indicated the land was not suitable for the development.”

Nicole said residents met on Horley Green to demonstrate their commitment to the cause and mark the first year anniversary of Thelma’s funeral.

Thelma’s grandson, Ernie Arthur Atkinson, three, was in attendance holding his banner with the message ‘Save my last play space, #DOINGIT4THELMA’, said Nicole.