Council cash crisis: Cleckheaton councillor condemns plans to close town hall as Kirklees Council desperately tries to save money

A Cleckheaton ward councillor has condemned money-saving plans to mothball Cleckheaton Town Hall as “appalling”.
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Coun John Lawson, who is also Lib Dem group leader, claims local councillors were repeatedly told that the council had no plans to close their town hall.

But a report to a cabinet meeting being held on Tuesday (September 26) does suggest closing the building as part of a raft of ideas to save the £47m needed for the council to balance its books.

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"I can’t begin to express the feeling of sadness among residents in Cleckheaton on hearing this news,” said Coun Lawson.

Cleckheaton Town HallCleckheaton Town Hall
Cleckheaton Town Hall

"All three local councillors have been chasing cabinet for details on timelines for repairs for the last two years and we have been told repeatedly that there were no plans to close the town hall.

"To tell us not to worry, then put the centrepiece of the town on a trajectory of laying idle, falling into disrepair and eventual ruin is just an appalling about-face.”

He said closing the town hall will have an impact on the town’s folk festival, Cleckheaton and Spenborough Amateur Theatre, and day-to-day users such as the University of the Third Age.

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"The loss to community and business in the town has been brushed aside in a race to avoid bankruptcy,” he said.

“Cabinet’s rapacious renewal plans for Huddersfield are still going forward and their town hall is covered in scaffolding as it undergoes repairs.

"I look forward with interest to the next grandiose scheme to be revealed in Huddersfield while Cleckheaton loses its heritage and its cultural heart.”

Part of Cleckheaton Town Hall had already been closed due to being unsafe and in need of repairs.

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The council became aware of a problem above the main stage in July 2022 and the council said that a survey needed to be carried out to determine whether the damage extended further.

A number of events had to be cancelled, including the nationally-acclaimed Cleckheaton Folk Festival, and others moved to alternative locations.

Residents have been voicing their concern about the future of the town hall and a petition was launched that now has over 1,300 signatures.