Future of Sowerby Bridge community centre hangs in the balance as bid is made to save building

The future of a youth and community centre is being considered- but no decision has been made yet, says a senior Calderdale councillor.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 4:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 2:58 pm
Sowerby Bridge Youth and Community Centre at Foundry Street. Picture: Google

An online petition about the future of Sowerby Bridge Community Centre at Foundry Street has been started by Sheila Eastwood on change.org and has more than 500 signatures.

Ms Eastwood said Sowerby Bridge Shotokan Karate Club was one of the first groups to use the centre, a former Wesleyan chapel bought by the former Sowerby Bridge council in 1972, and has trained there ever since, until COVID closed the centre, now owned by Calderdale Council, in March 2020.

Introducing the petition, she says: “When restrictions began to ease, the karate club contacted the council to seek permission to begin using the centre again, and for several weeks were put on hold, pending a decision to reopen.

“In early October, we were informed that ‘the Corporate Asset and Facilities Management Service has now considered this site against other organisational requirements and found that it is not required.

“‘It has therefore been recommended for disposal.’”

However, Cabinet member for Children and Young Peoples Services – and ward councillor for Sowerby Bridge – Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said no decision had not yet been made.

He said funding for youth services has reduced by 70 per cent nationally under the current government and the council has faced cuts of around £115 million to its annual revenue budget, so had to think very carefully about what non-statutory services it can continue to run and how council buildings were used.

“In January 2020 a cross-party scrutiny review of the council’s Youth Service concluded that open access youth provision should be provided by the third sector rather than being delivered in house, whilst our more targeted youth work should continue to be delivered by the council.

“We’ve therefore commissioned voluntary organisations to provide open access youth sessions in areas of high deprivation and further sessions have been provided across the borough as part of the Healthy Holidays scheme, including in the Sowerby Bridge and Ryburn areas.

“As youth sessions have not operated from Foundry Street Community Centre since before the pandemic, council officers have asked Cabinet to consider the future use of the building, but no decisions have been made yet and we will work with the community to consider all the options,” he said.

Ms Eastwood says the centre has been well maintained and used by a number of sports and social clubs, including a youth club, and community groups over the years and believes some of the £1.9m High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) money received by the council from Government could be used to support it and use of the centre could generate income for the authority.

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