8:55am Tuesday 29th March 2016
By Herald reporter
A group of Silsden residents this week expected to sign a deal with Bradford Council to take over the town’s threatened youth centre.
The short-term tenancy agreement, to run the building in Elliott Street, will also cover the adjacent children’s centre.
The agreement will mean existing activities, including a youth club, playgroups and child health sessions, can continue for at least the next few months. This will give the residents time to draw up a detailed business plan showing how they would manage and maintain the building in the long-term.
Volunteers formed a public-interest company this month to oversee the project.
Silsden town councillor, Jill Cook, who is spearheading the project, said the team had successfully completed ‘stage one’ with Bradford Council. This means the council is confident enough in the Silsden team – which includes people with project management and finance experience – to hand over the keys.
Cllr Cook added:
“It’s given us some breathing space for stage two.
“There’s a lot of work to do, including business plans and feasibility studies.
“We had to give the council an indication of what we plan to do with the centres. We want to generate income as well because the building has to be self-sustaining.
“We have a lot of interested parties willing to run things, including a martial arts group, nursery and childminders. We’ve already met with people who have good ideas.
“Youth Services will continue to run activities but didn’t have anything in its budget to pay for the venue. We’d like to expand on what Youth Services does so young adults have somewhere to go.
The aim is to eventually sign a 25-year lease with the council to run the building.
Cllr Cook said it made sense to take on responsibility for both buildings now because, although the children centre is not currently under threat, the situation might change if the council makes further spending cuts in future years.
Residents also hope to take responsibility for the floodlit multi-use games area next to the youth centre.
Councillor Adrian Naylor, who is supporting the residents’ campaign, said:
“They are very well organised and have a number of committed people prepared to form the nucleus of a committee.
“From what I’ve seen so far, they’ve got a good chance of putting together a proposition that Bradford would accept and would see increased usage of both locations.”