Picture House could become local asset

Hebden Bridge Picture House
Hebden Bridge Picture House

PLANS to transfer Hebden Bridge Picture House into community ownership have moved a step closer.

But whether the proposal would prove to be financially viable was brought into question at a public meeting to discuss the idea.

The meeting at a packed Riverside School, Hebden Bridge, also saw the reformation of the Friends of the Picture House – the successful group that helped save the cinema from closure in 1999.

The asset transfer of the building from Calderdale Council is being led by Hebden Royd Town Council and Hebden Bridge Community Association and has the provisional support of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and Ground Floor Project and the four rural parish councils of Blackshaw, Erringden, Heptonstall, and Wadsworth.

Hebden Royd Mayor, Coun Robin Dixon, said: “The town council wants to support any assets that are under threat.

“At the moment the Picture House is not, but in the current financial climate it might not stay that way.

“We have applied for £155,000 from Calderdale Council’s £2.6 million Performance Reward Grant pot.”

If successful the community group would inherit the cinema’s repairs bill, which is around £412,000 over ten years.

It also gets a £15,000 subsidy from Calderdale Council, but Robin Tuddenham, from Safer Stronger Communities, said the group could still achieve its aims of breaking even by applying for grants, which Calderdale could not.

“There is nothing in the budget to say that we will close the Picture House,” he said.

“The very best scenario is that we will continue to run it without any investment.”

The group has proposed that the Picture House should remain a public building, remain available for public events, keep its current mix of programming, keep its distinctive ambiance, keep employment continuity, be run on a not-for-profit basis and develop longer-term strategic planning.

The application will go before Calderdale Council’s cabinet in May, which will decide whether to grant planning officers permission to start the asset transfer process.

l Do you think Hebden Bridge Picture House should be run by the community instead of the council? Email yoursay@ halifaxcourier.co.uk