Bulldozers set to move in on community centre

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. (D534A330)
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. (D534A330)

Bulldozers are expected to demolish an historic former community centre after campaigners were told there was no cash to save it.

Members of Save Walker Welfare (Again) met councillors in a last ditch attempt to save the much-loved Walker Welfare Centre in Edge Lane.

But they left Friday’s meeting empty-handed and the council’s position remains that the dilapidated building is a danger to the public. Now members hope to build a new community centre for Thornhill in its place.

Group spokesman Andrew Waring said he hoped the council would give people adequate time to formulate a plan for a new building. Members hope to incorporate historic features from the current centre, such as the bell tower, memorial plaques and the lightning strike point, into a new build which would have a similar frontage.

Mr Waring said: “We were offered nothing in the meeting. It seemed like they had made the decision before we got in there. There’s just no hope and that was it.”

The council said the centre is not economically viable, but Mr Waring questioned why no help was offered when funding has been ploughed into John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield and the hosting of next year’s Tour de France Grand Depart. “It seems like there is no money left for community-type buildings,” he said.

Mr Waring said a new tailor-made centre would cost around £150,000 – the bill for repairing the existing building would stretch to at least £200,000.

He added: “Thornhill is losing another historic building. But no-one will want to invest in an old, inefficient building.”

Coun Masood Ahmed (Lab, Dews South) said: “I’m sad to hear about Walker Welfare but we are now looking to move forward with the group.”

He is now advising members on formalising their group so they can begin applying for funding for a new community centre.

A Kirklees Council spokeswoman said: “Coun David Sheard hosted extensive discussions with ward councillors and representatives of Save Walker Welfare Group on September 13.

“The council’s position remains that the building is unsafe and beyond economic repair, but we will continue to work with local councillors and residents on the future of the site, and consider viable proposals for its future use.”