New Charity created to manage Town Hall

Friday, 23 January 2009

Town HallHebden Bridge has a new charity, set up to bring new life to the landmark Town Hall building opposite the market in St George’s Street.

The Charity Commission confirmed last Monday (Jan 19th) that it had awarded registered charitable status to Hebden Bridge Community Association. This new organisation, registered as a not-for-profit company last Autumn, has been established with the aim of taking over in due course the management and control of the Town Hall (originally the Council Offices for Hebden Royd UDC) from Calderdale.

“We have been in detailed discussions with Calderdale for well over a year about the future of the Town Hall. This is an historic listed building in the heart of the community’s life, which sadly has become rather run-down in recent years,” Mr Andrew Bibby, one of the Association’s founder trustees, told the Hebden Bridge Web.

Cllr Cooper, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, says “The new Hebden Bridge Community Association offers the town a great opportunity. As an independent charity, they will have the opportunity to access sources of grant funding which are not available to a local authority. They will also be able to harness energy from within the Hebden Bridge community to breathe new life into the building. Although there are still decisions to be made and details to be worked out, we’re excited about the ideas they’ve got for the building.”

Hebden Bridge Town Hall has been identified by Calderdale as one of two potential pilots for asset transfer, the policy supported by the government which transfers control of public buildings into the hands of accountable community-based trusts. The actual decision on whether to progress with the asset transfer will be taken by Calderdale councillors shortly. “We have worked hard to build a strong business case for the transfer, and we’ve been overwhelmed by local support, so we hope very much that Calderdale will agree to this step,” Andrew Bibby says.

Hebden Bridge Community Association has been established as a democratic, member-led, organisation, and membership will be open to all who live and work in the area. The current project team, which has led negotiations with Calderdale in conjunction with the town and parish councils and Hebden Bridge Partnership, has announced that it will begin a major membership drive as soon as the Calderdale councillors’ formal decision is known.

“We have to demonstrate that the whole community supports the Town Hall’s future, and we’ll be looking to have everyone in the town getting involved,” Andrew Bibby says. He adds that one proposal being actively pursued by the Association is for a new public hall and function room to be created out of the former housing offices at the rear of the building, currently standing empty. Another longer-term plan is to create a small business centre adjacent to the building.

Hebden Bridge Community Association is putting out a call for a volunteer with professional property and building experience to join the project team. “We are looking for someone who may have surveying, architectural or structural engineering expertise and who feels able to get actively involved for the next phase of the project,” Andrew Bibby says. “We’d also be pleased to hear from anyone with fundraising experience.” Anyone interested in finding out more is invited to contact him on 01422 844026.

In an innovative development, the Town Hall team has also established a comprehensive website, including a diary (blog) which reports on developments as they happen. This can be found at


Hebweb News, July 2008
Government gives thumbs up to Hebden Bridge Town Hall plans

Hebweb News, October 2007
Hebden Bridge Town Hall: ambitious plans to put this distinctive local building once again at the heart of local life

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