Over a hundred people packed into a public meeting as the battle to save Silsden Town Hall got underway in earnest.
Angry residents voiced their opposition to Bradford Council plans to hive-off the historic building to volunteers – or close it.
Ray Colling – chairman of the Friends of Silsden Town Hall, which organised Monday night’s meeting – praised the “terrific” turnout.
He said the attendance – and the fact the Kirkgate building was in use by several groups that evening alone – showed how much demand there was for the facility.
The public gathered in an upstairs room at the premises, which is one of seven community halls across the district threatened with closure as the council seeks to slash £82 million from its budget.
“The Friends was formed two years ago to raise the profile of the town hall and usage of the building has increased dramatically,” said Mr Colling.
“The hall is in use by groups and for events all the time and it’s our intention to develop that further.
“We are passionate about the building and its importance to the community and we are unanimously against these proposals.”
Fellow Friends’ member Wendy Neville said the immediate aim was to get the closure threat lifted and then to work with the council on further strengthening the provision.
“It’s not on for a group of volunteers to be expected to take on the full responsibility of running and maintaining the building,” she said.
“We want to work with Bradford Council and the community to develop what we have.
“The people of Silsden very much value this community resource and don’t want to lose it.”
Post-it notes and pens were distributed to those present as suggestions were sought on how the hall could be made more viable.
Resident Danny Clarke said the town hall was Silsden’s “jewel in the crown”.
“I have had ties to the building since I was a kid – I went to karate here as a child and my sister attended the majorettes – and now my own young daughter is at dance club,” he said.
“It’s such an important place.
“What will happen to the young people – and the older people – of the town who use the building and rely on it?
“Everyone needs to get behind this campaign and support it 100 per cent.”
Fears were expressed that with more housing planned in Silsden, demand for the town hall’s facilities would only increase.
Long-time resident Eric Waddington said: “When I came to Silsden the population was only about 4,000 but in the next year or two we’ll have over 10,000 people – and yet we have fewer amenities in the town.”
Mrs Neville added that a petition had been launched as part of the campaign, which had attracted about 800 signatures in just a week. The aim was to gather 1,500 names so it could go before full council.
Bradford Council is currently carrying out a public consultation on its budget proposals, which would also affect facilities including public toilets and libraries.
People can have their say at bradford.gov.uk.
The consultation runs until February 12.