Campaigners to lobby full Calderdale Council in bid to save bandstand

Brass Band members who played at the concert. Picture: Tessa Kerr
Brass Band members who played at the concert. Picture: Tessa Kerr

An impromptu concert in front of the threatened bandstand in Centre Vale Park, Todmorden, heralded a week in which campaigners hoping to save it will lobby councillors attending a full meeting of Calderdale Council

The concert last Saturday saw a bagpiper from Manchester, members from four local brass bands and a singer songwriter perform in support of the Save Our Bandstand campaign group.

They were formed after Calderdale Council’s Cabinet voted in July to demolish the bandstand and develop a performance space in its place.

Cabinet came to its decision after hearing returning the bandstand to its original 1914 specification would cost an estimated £300,000 and making it more securely safe and leaving as it is would cost around £40,000, while the demolition and performance space option will cost around £50,000.

The original bandstand was partially demolished by fire 20 years ago and refurbished using the original plans by the council, but has suffered vandalism and other attempts to set it on fire since, being unsafe to use for almost a decade.

In the light of incidents of vandalism Cabinet have argued that it cannot afford the restoration cost and wants to put in its place a performance space which could be developed as a more resilient structure.

But the group hope to demonstrate it can be saved, restored, made more vandal-proof and used on a regular basis as a community resource and have urged the council to asset-transfer it to them.

Essentially, following re-affirmation of Cabinet’s decision, despite opposition, by the council’s Place Scrutiny Board, the campaigners have just a matter of weeks to convince the council their business plan is viable before planning permission for the bandstand’s abolition is put in motion.

Campaigners had asked for a stay of execution to give them time to fully formulate a business plan.

Save Our Bandstand has formed a number of sub-committees which have been working on the business plan for the last three weeks in terms of considering fundraising and planning a future for it as a well-used community resource.

It has also obtained 3,000 signatures on a petition opposing demolition which is expected to be presented to the full meeting of the council.

They are urging supporters to lobby councillors on September 18 at Halifax Town Hall ahead of the meeting which begins at 6pm and are also asking them to email their objections to demolition to as many of them as possible – the Save Our Bandstand’s S O B Facebook page is carrying the details.

At Saturday’s event, which was also streamed live over social media, Colin Murphy from Manchester Community Pipe Band led people “pied piper” style towards the bandstand where music was also provided by 18 members of brass bands from Todmorden Community Band, Wardle, Haworth and Friendly bands, who had been approached by Margaret Berry of SOB.

Isaac Hughes-Dennis then rounded off the afternoon with a comedic acoustic guitar set, said group member Tessa Kerr.

Tessa said: “It is our hope that people here today will have had a fantastic trip down memory lane, remembering our bandstand in its heyday and also that it went in some way to spark the imagination of what could be possible in the future if we were to be able to save it.

“This bandstand represents my childhood and I would love for it to be the same for generations to come.”