You may have heard recently about Bradford councils proposals to asset transfer all 7 of the village halls in the district. Due to budget cuts the council is no longer in a position to fund these halls and therefore they are looking at ways to save costs. The idea behind an asset transfer is that the council will hand over the management and running of such locations to a local community organisation, set up with the purpose of being self funding and providing community services and activities.
When we initially heard of these proposals our first thoughts were to try and get this decision overturned, but over time this seemed unlikely to happen and even if it did would only buy us a bit of time before our hall was under threat again. So many people use the hall on a regular basis – it provides the largest meeting space in the village and both churches already accommodate regular groups so groups currently using the hall would probably have to close – meaning fewer activities in our village.
We needed a more permanent solution, time then to investigate further.
After talking to The Village Society and the Holden Hall Users Group a small but dedicated group of people have developed the idea of setting up a charitable trust that will manage Holden Hall. We decided to hold an open day to gauge if other people felt as we do that the hall serves a vital function within the village. You did us proud! Over 150 people turned out on a rainy day to show their support and we felt immensely encouraged by the responses we received.
Currently there are 7 of us who have volunteered to become trustees of the Oakworth Community Trust, which will become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. We have expressed our interest to Bradford Council and we are hopeful that our bid for community asset transfer will be approved when they meet to discuss the proposals. We have also filed an application with the Charities Commission to get the trust approved as a charitable organisation, this will take a few weeks to be approved.
What happens next? The community asset transfer process is not a quick one, but that gives us time to – increase the range of activities already taking place, do promotions, work out a business plan, discuss a contract with the council, find out what the community requires from the building and how it can be provided, and to gather support.
We cannot do this alone. We would like to increase the number of trust members but we will need occasional helpers too. From the everyday tasks such as helping to staff the bar (no there isn’t one yet but it’s high on the wish list!), gardening or cleaning through to painting, plumbing or accountancy every skill is immensely valuable to us. If you are interested in joining us in any capacity or have any ideas or suggestions we would love to hear from you.