Volunteers hoping to safeguard a community asset have quit their campaign claiming a ‘hostile and obstructive’ parish council ‘refused’ to work with them.
And there are concerns Holmfirth Civic Hall may be subsidised by taxpayers’ money after Holme Valley Parish Council allegedly declined offers of help from Holmfirth Civic Hall Ltd, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit company.
The company had hoped to help Holme Valley Parish Council (HVPC) manage Holmfirth Civic Hall after Kirklees Council announced it could no longer afford to maintain the building, which is believed to lose £60,000 to £100,000 a year.
But Holmfirth Civic Hall (HCH) Ltd, which comprised Holme Valley residents, says its efforts were blocked by parish councillors. HCH Ltd alleges that the council ignored their offers of help and pressed on with their own plan.
Chairman Chris Little said: “I am afraid that we never felt valued by HVPC and indeed, at times, the reception we received was hostile and obstructive.”
Mr Little added: “At HVPC’s request we engaged legal advice to draw up a memorandum of understanding to enable us to work together. In the meantime HVPC continued with their own asset transfer plan which resulted in duplication of work and spending.
Mr Little said HCH Ltd, which had conducted resident surveys, was now standing aside because of a lack of ‘meaningful’ communication from HVPC.
He said: “As we cannot match the funding resources of HVPC, coupled with HVPC not communicating with us in any meaningful way, this leads us to the conclusion that our aim of seeing HCH survive and thrive is probably best met if HCH stands aside from the asset transfer process.
“Therefore we have decided to withdraw our interest in asset transfer and any future management of HCH.”
The Parish Council said it was formulating a business case to acquire the hall from Kirklees Council via an asset transfer.
It is believed the parish council will fund the management and maintenance of the hall with taxpayers’ money.
Holmfirth Civic Hall, sections of which date back to 1842, belonged to the Parish Council HVPC until it was taken over by the then new Kirklees Council in 1974.
Speaking on behalf of HVPC, Clr Donna Bellamy said while there had been ‘some differences of opinion’ the parish council appreciated the work HCH Ltd had done.
Clr Bellamy said: “Over the last few months the parish council has been in detailed discussion with representatives of HCH Ltd to take over the running of the Civic Hall.
“Whilst there have been some differences of opinion, these meetings have been fruitful and beneficial. The parish council really appreciates the hard work and initiative of HCH Ltd. It looks forward to working with all individuals and community groups, to make the civic hall a great success.
“The parish council’s preferred option is for the civic hall to be owned by the council, but to be run by the community for the benefit of the community by means of a charitable organisation.
“The parish council held a very successful public meeting and received a number of offers to help with the future management of the building. In addition, its current consultation survey asks, among other things, whether respondents would be willing to participate in the management and running of the Civic Hall. This is an open offer and we would welcome members of HCH Ltd to become involved in the future of the civic hall.”