Hebden Royd Town Council is aiming to take over the management of the town's popular Picture House from Calderdale council. The dramatic move, expected early next year, follows a decision taken by Calderdale's Cabinet in March to agree in principle to transfer control of the cinema.
The transfer should ensure the cinema's survival and development as a valuable public resource.
The longer-term future of the Picture House has been a cause for concern locally since last year, when it became clear that cash-strapped Calderdale council could not commit to the capital funding for the building which will become necessary over the coming years. A packed public meeting in March discussed the options and pledged to fight to maintain the cinema.
Coun Susan Press, Chair of the Town Councils Picture House Committee commented “It was the old urban district council which stepped in during the late 1960s to prevent the cinema from closing, and it is appropriate that the Town Council now once again will be bringing direct control of the cinema back to Hebden Bridge” “This marks a significant move forward in the role which the Town Council is playing in our community life.”
Hebden Royd Town Council is now beginning detailed discussions with Calderdale council over aspects of the transfer, which among other things will maintain the cinema's popular programming strategy and also protect the jobs of cinema staff. The Town Council's decision, following a meeting of the Town Council on 15th June, is subject to reassurances being forthcoming over certain aspects of the cinema's financial operations and the state of the building's fabric included a commitment to finance improvements to the Picture House, which could include the digitalisation of the cinema. Hebden Royd Town Council will be reporting back to Calderdale MBC Cabinet by December 2011 as laid out in the initial application made to Calderdale MBC.
The Town Council together with Hebden Bridge Community Association, the community-based trust which manages the Town Hall, made the original asset transfer proposal to Calderdale for the Picture House in the Spring.
The Community Association's chair Peter Hirst welcomes the Town Council's decision to run the cinema directly. "We've been delighted to contribute to the discussions which have led to the development of the current proposals. We wish the Town Council great success in running an important public building."
Other organisations which are informally backing the asset transfer proposal for the Picture House include the four hilltop Parish Councils, Pennine Heritage, the Ground Floor Project and the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.