Hundreds surround Cleckheaton Town Hall with a 'ring of love' in bid to save historic building from council axe
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On a blustery Saturday morning, more than 300 people flocked to the local landmark to make known their opposition to the council’s plans to close the town hall.
The shock decision to mothball the 131-year-old building indefinitely comes as part of Kirklees Council’s measures to make a £47m saving in the current financial year to avoid effective bankruptcy.
This decision has proved unpopular, along with proposals to close care homes and leisure centres, prompting mass community pushback.
In response to the town hall closure, Liberal Democrat ward councillors organised a "ring of love” event that saw the building encircled by residents, demonstrating the hall’s value to the local community.
Following the event, Coun Kath Pinnock said: “Seeing so many people surround the town hall with their placards should send a loud, clear message to cabinet about what it means to people in Spen to have their main council building shut down.
"I was expecting quite a few to turn up but folk in Cleckheaton and our neighbours did us proud.
“What we want this council to understand is how mothballing the town hall, instead of investing in it, threatens our communities and our local businesses.
"They need to realise that the town hall is not just an asset on paper but that it is greater than the sum of its parts. Groups like U3A meet to learn but friendships are made and they look out for each other.
"Vital footfall to town centre shops and cafés is being lost at a time when they need it most.
“We are inviting the new Kirklees CEO to come and meet with us so he can see for himself just how valuable this lovely building is to everyone here.”
Cleckheaton Town Hall has hosted the nationally-acclaimed Cleckheaton Folk Festival for more than three decades, as well as University of the Third Age and productions by Spen Amateurs and local dance schools.
The much-loved venue had already been partially closed as it was regarded as unsafe after a problem was identified above the main stage in July 2022.
However, repairs were never made, with Kirklees Council saying a survey needed to be carried out to assess the extent of the damage.
This lack of action saw the council come under fire from ward councillors and residents and saw the community demand an end to the “neglect” of the historic building.
Since then, a council report stated that “specialist investigation” is needed and that the hall has a backlog of maintenance works anticipated to exceed £5m.