Campaigners given more time to halt demolition of Calderdale bandstand

The bandstand in Todmorden's Centre Vale Park
The bandstand in Todmorden's Centre Vale Park

More time has been given to campaigners aiming to save a Calderdale park’s bandstand from demolition.

Calderdale councillors discussed the campaign to save the bandstand in Todmorden’s Centre Vale Park after receiving what they believed was the biggest petition the council has yet received opposing Cabinet’s decision in the summer.

Councillors also agreed a recommendation that Cabinet reconsider the demolition decision – and this was supported by all parties.

Cabinet had made its decision to demolish and replace with a performance space after being told the bandstand, which dates to 1914 but was largely destroyed in an arson attack 20 years ago and refurbished using the original plans, would need around £300,000 to refurbish it again to original specification.

It has been subject to more vandalism attempts and has been fenced off for safety reasons for the best part of the last decade.

But with well in excess of 2,000 people signing the petition and a well-supported campaign group aiming to not just save the bandstand but plan a practical future for it, campaigners had been given until the end of this year to produce a workable plan for it to be asset transferred by the councl to them.

Now that has been extended to the end of the council year, next spring, and councillors agreed Cabinet should once again re-examine the issue because the situation might be changing.

Presenting their case, Coun Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) said the petition clearly signalled Todmorden people were passionate about the bandstand and he hoped discussions about a community asset transfer would be fruitful.

He hoped money could be found from Government’s New Towns Deal which could provide £25 million to be spent in the community in Todmorden.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said she had talked with the group and developments were happening.

She said the council was aware that Heritage England was considering listing the structure and a decision on that was expected in a few weeks.

She understood the guidelines for the New Towns Deal cash which could give up to £25 million for a community did not include the park at the moment but the council had been invited to comment and would be consulting with ward councillors.

It may be the guidelines would change and might include the park and allow funds to undertake capital work, but issues of future use, safety and security would remain.

Given all this, she said Cabinet was happy to leave the planning applicatuon for demolition “on the table” until the end of the municipal year to give the group more time to plan and explore alternative sources of funding.

She had also arranged for the group to be given help from council staff.

Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) wanted to speak in support of a decision to reverse the demolition decision.

There could be a real opportunity to use the bandstand as an asset for Calderdale, bringing more people into the borough – there were not very many of these bandstands around and it could be an excellent music venue once again, with the potential for some “world class” performances, he said.