DCSIMG

Blame game

The council have issued an emergency demolition order on the Walker Welfare Centre. It's a disused community centre that locals have been trying to save. They are even willing to chain themselves to the fence outside when the bulldozers come. (D534K330)

The council have issued an emergency demolition order on the Walker Welfare Centre. It's a disused community centre that locals have been trying to save. They are even willing to chain themselves to the fence outside when the bulldozers come. (D534K330)

A bitter war of words has broken out over a decision to tear down a historic community centre.

Kirklees Council is set to press ahead with the demolition of the derelict Walker Welfare Centre, despite stiff opposition.

Campaign group Save Walker Welfare (Again) believe the council are responsible for allowing the building to fall into disrepair, a claim it denies.

And MP Simon Reevell has said there may be “serious questions” to answer about how the centre became so dilapidated. It is thought it could take more than £200,000 to repair.

Now campaigners want a stay of execution so they can make plans to bring it back into use for the community.

Group spokesman Andrew Waring said: “There’s a massive amount of scope for the centre. But we can’t go down that far while Kirklees are watching the clock ticking, waving a bulldozer over our face.”

Campaigners say the 200-year-old building, given to the village, is held by a charitable trust controlled by the council.

And Mr Reevell has received correspondence from the Charity Commission which backs up the claim.

A Kirklees Council spokeswoman said: “Our lawyers are now in further discussions with the Charity Commissioners about recent attempts to clarify the position, but our two senior lawyers are both of the opinion that a charitable trust was not created.”

Mr Reevell added: “If the Charity Commissioners are right there are serious questions about whether the trustees failed in their duty and to what extent they are personally responsible for the cost of repair.”

Mr Waring said: “Kirklees have failed in their duty to protect and repair a historical building that the community of Thornhill are unwilling to watch being knocked down – because of failure within Kirklees to act on the many warnings they have had put to them to save the same.”

Meanwhile, campaigners, including former councillor Khizar Iqbal, have said ward councillors have not done enough to support the centre. Mr Iqbal has also questioned whether Dewsbury South councillors were aware of the decision to demolish the building before it was made public.

The councillors say they were not consulted about the decision, which was made after they attended a public meeting.

Coun Masood Ahmed added: “Myself and my colleagues are doing our utmost best. We have replied to every single person who has contacted us by email. I have raised my concerns with leaders of the council and the chief executive.”

A council spokeswoman said: “No date has been set and demolition will not take place until the council has received formal written approval from the local planning authority. This approval is not expected to be received until the end of August or early September.”

Mr Reevell said he hoped the community could come up with a plan to bring the centre back into use. He added: “I hope and expect that if a serious suggestion is made for what to do with it that the deadline would be ignored.”

 

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