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"Iconic" Todmorden Bandstand Set To Be Demolished

But there is some hope of saving the structure.

Councillors have voted to demolish the “iconic” bandstand in Todmorden’s Centre Vale Park, replacing it with a new performance space – but there is some wriggle room.

Todmorden resident Joan Walsh told members of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet that over the weekend she had undertaken a social media survey asking people if they wanted the bandstand restored to its former glory.

“I got 1,500 ‘yeses’ to my question,” she said.

The council proposes to demolish the bandstand, which was rebuilt to its original 1914 specification, cast iron and steel framed but with wooden infrastructure, after it burned down 20 years ago but has since suffered vandalism and further attempts to set fire to it.

For most of the past decade it has been out of use and fenced off for safety reasons with attempts to damage the fencing and it was time something was done about it, said Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Councillor Susan Press, who is a Todmorden ward councillor.

Cabinet have been presented with costings of £40,000 to make it safe and install new and robust security fencing, £50,000 to demolish it and replace it with a new performance space or £300,000 to rebuild it again to the original specification.

The only chance of salvation for the original design is likely to lie with Todmorden Town Council, following a suggestion from Liberal Democrat town councillor Mick Taylor, who had once introduced acts on stage there at Todmorden Greenpeace’s long-running Day of the Green events, who was speaking in his own right and not on behalf of the council.

“If you go back to the town council saying we are faced with a choice of demolition or doing something about it, they make take a different view, I think they might take it on,” he said.

They were not subject to Calderdale’s financial restrains and, for example, could put the town’s precept up to pay for it.

Cabinet agreed the demolition and performance space rebuild option, but Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Swift said planning permission for that would have to be obtained and while that was ongoing if the town council wanted to take it up it could be considered.

Councillor Press, who is also a member of Todmorden Development Board which had considered the issue, had told Cabinet the bandstand was unsafe and over time channels had been explored to fund restoration – Todmorden Town Council had even spent £6,500 on a feasibility study which told them it would cost an awful lot of money for restoration.

Other attempts, including one by former town Mayor Michael Gill, did not get very far, she said, and ultimately over the years no-one had come forward with a workable solution.

In short, the council did not have £300,000 to spend on the bandstand but wanted to create there a performance space which would not just be a bandstand but a performance space which could also house theatre, community arts and all kinds of music, she said.

Another Todmorden resident, Giles Farrington, queried the cost and urged the council to get more tenders.

“That’s a ridiculous amount of money for the work that’s been suggested,” he said.

Councillor Swift said the council had heard similar arguments before about other projects but when tested the eventual pricings came out fairly close.

Councillor Rob Holden thought it was on the high side and as a former resident himself who had played music on the stage he would not want the bandstand taken away from the people of Todmorden in its 75th year.

He had spoken to many people in the town whose opinion was, rightly or wrongly, that if it was in Hebden Bridge or Halifax something would be done.

“This is something which is an iconic structure in Todmorden. I ask Cabinet to defer their decision and give the people of Todmorden the opportunity to make their case,” he said.

Counclilor Press refuted the notion other towns would have got the money. It was simply not true, she said, and cited an example of a request for a performance space in Calder Holmes Park at Hebden Bridge. One was requested but, with funding unable to be raised, it was not given council money and did not go ahead.

Treasurer of the Friends of Centre Vale Park, Robin Pennie, said it was regrettable the bandstand was in the state it was in. His group was small and could not take the project on. They did understand the council’s position that no-one had so far come forward with a solution.

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