Community groups get chance to save Calderdale community and youth centre

Community groups will be given the chance to apply for a centre to be asset transferred to them to keep it open and in use.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 11:52 am

More than a 1,000 people have backed a petition to save the youth and community centre at Foundry Street, Sowerby Bridge, and community groups are interested in taking it over.

Ward councillor Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) had objected to the building’s recommended disposal and put the case for a transfer to Calderdale Council’s Cabinet.

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The community centre at Foundry Street, Sowerby Bridge. Picture: Google

“A community asset transfer would be a huge ask but we have had such a huge amount of community support I would like Cabinet to consider that.

“Some of the groups who have come forward say they need somewhere to offer their services,” she said.

Cabinet heard the building had been earmarked for disposal because it was in youth services’ portfolio and the service had been restructured.

Coun Smith said its closure at the start of the pandemic had left Sowerby Bridge without any youth services save for some outreach sessions.

The voluntary sector could pick up some of this youth work but they needed somewhere to deliver their activities, said Coun Smith.

It was true they were temporarily given some space in the town’s leisure centre but this was expensive and church buildings could not offer some unique elements Foundry Street could, for example a sprung floor campaigners say is perfect for dancing and martial arts.

Cabinet members agreed to give community groups the case for a transfer.

Cabinet member for Regenerations and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said she had met with Coun Smith and community representatives and concluded they should be given time and officer assistance given to other groups who were taking over running of council buildings to see if a community asset transfer was viable.

“It may be or it may not be.

“My rationale is it seems only fair to let these groups have the experience of those involved in other buildings.

“Maybe the building would have a better future under community organisations,” she said.

Against a background of challenging budgets each year, the council is divesting itself of property its services no longer need, announcing a raft of buildings including some libraries for disposal in its Future Council document in autumn 2021.

To be successful, the council has to be sure buildings which are transferred to community groups who then run them are done so on a sound basis, sustainable into the future.

Applicants last year, ranging from library buildings to Heptonstall Museum, were given time to submit an expression of interest and then develop a plan to run the properties.

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