Handover of former college building in Calderdale on track

An asset transfer which has seen a community group take over the running of a former college at Todmorden is progressing well.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 29th April 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 1:20 pm

A monitoring report prepared by Calderdale Council, which is transferring the former Calderdale College at Burnley Road to Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub (TLCCH), is rated as “green” on the traffic light system.

The report says the first monitor, prepared in November 2021 – with the next due in November this year – shows the group has established itself well with no concerns with the transfer a year into the process.

The council’s CAFM Asset Management Board were considering the report along with amber-rated project Northowram Tennis Courts, for which a first monitoring report is being finalised, on the first anniversary of the transfer, March 31.

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Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub (TLCCH) is at Todmorden College, Burnley Road

The council monitors transfers – these involve community groups taking over properties the council, due to financial constraints and tight budgets – might otherwise have to mothball, close or even sell – once they have taken place to ensure they proceed along the lines agreed and do not run into difficulties.

In the case of the Todmorden college, the monitor showed all milestones were on target, a revised constitution for governance of the organisation had been approved by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) with annual meeting minutes provided, and the project had seen staffing and volunteer numbers boosted during 2021 including some apprentices.

Policies and procedures, safeguarding, environmental, building safety and planned works markers have been met or are proceeding as they should, councillors heard.

The council’s lead officer for asset transfers, Steven Hoyle, said in terms of capacity and governance the group was strong and organised.

“Information provided by the group has been very good – they seem to be there or thereabouts in the majority of areas we monitor on.

“Finance colleagues provided an early view on that and at the present time the finances look healthy,” he said.

Financially, when it granted the transfer, the council budgeted potential investment to a maximum of £117,000 would be needed to support the transfer over its first three years.

In the first year £47,500 of this money was anticipated as a forecast deficit, with year one costs of about £153,800 being offset by an anticipated income from hirers and lessees of parts of the building of around £106,300.

The annual report, which has been produced by an independent examiner, is still subject to audit but shows at the end of its first year the college retained surplus funding of £110,121.

Although £51,250 of this funding retained by the college will be required to contribute towards a National Climate Action scheme funded by the National Lottery, the project has retained £45,001 of the £47,500 loaned, said the report.

Challenges ahead include the uncertainty of trading activity in a COVID and post-COVID environment and energy costs, both possible impacts which may affect financial viability in both short and long term, making it difficult to predict, it says.

Activities at TLCCH include opportunities for learning, sports, office, studio, and workshop spaces.

Sustainability is a key on asset transfers across the borough, said Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot).

“We do think this (monitoring) is important in terms of keeping in touch with asset transfers where publicly-owned buildings are leased on long leases to the community.

“I’m really pleased things are going well for Todmorden college – it is an asset to the town,” she said.

Often groups could access funding which the council could not.

The board also heard monitoring of transfers for Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Hebden Bridge Picture House, Luddenden Foot Institute and Goldfields Recreation Ground at Greetland would be prepared in March, for Hanson Lane Recreation Ground, Halifax, and Forest Cottage and Four Fields site at Ovenden would be undertaken in April, that for Field Lane Community Centre, Rastrick, in May and the Sowerby Bridge Fire and Water Project in June – these transfers are under way.

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