Mytholmroyd Community Centre - Original text of letter to Hebden Bridge Times
Published 19th March 2004
Hebden Bridge Times
I am writing following Michelle Foster's letter (Hebden Bridge Times, 5 March 2004) regarding Town Council funding for Mytholmroyd Community Centre. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Community Centre in Mytholmroyd is something of a mixed blessing and I think that a debate about what sort of Community Centre we want in Mytholmroyd is overdue.
Undoubtedly there are a number of positive aspects to the Community Centre. The establishment of the Centre in the first place was the result of an impressive community effort. It is also true that a number of important local activities take place at Mytholmroyd Community Centre. Indeed the Community Centre is to be applauded for accommodating Mytholmroyd Youth Action Group after their problems at previous premises.
However, a building in which community activities are run isn't necessarily a community centre. I find it hard to see how Mytholmroyd Community Centre is much different from a cross between a Municipal Sports Centre and a Public Hall for hire. My impression is that rather than make active efforts to identify community needs and respond to these, Mytholmroyd Community Centre largely waits for people to approach it. In addition, there are times when the Centre's response to such approaches has been wanting. When the Ryburn 3 Step folk group needed a new venue for their Ceilidhs, they ran a few events at Mytholmroyd Community Centre. However, the Centre terminated this arrangement on the grounds that Ceilidh goers didn't spend enough money at the bar! Not only does this sound like a commercial rather than a community consideration, but Ryburn 3 Step also felt that the Centre treated them very badly in the process. I also understand that the Hebden Bridge Saints Football teams are not amongst the Community Centre's greatest fans after they were refused permission to use the Centre for practice sessions.
The Community Centre's external publicity seems to be geared to attracting bookings for Adults' Birthday Parties, Wedding Receptions and Fund Raising events. While I accept this might be an important source of income for the Centre, it would also be good to see some publicity promoting the centre as a wider community resource. In addition a charge of £80 per night to hire the main hall at the Centre doesn't sound like a "community friendly" price and there are church halls locally that offer their facilities for far less.
The question of the Community Centre's relationship with Hebden Royd Town Council is an odd one. Mytholmroyd Community Centre has received an annual grant of £3,000 from the Town Council for some years. In addition, when Michelle Foster was Mayor of Hebden Royd, she chose refurbishment of the Jubilee Room at the Centre as her Mayor's charity. While the Community Centre seems to maintain a good relationship with Michelle Foster, it doesn't appear to do so with the present Town Council. Hebden Royd Town Council has nominated a Mytholmroyd councillor to sit on the Community Centre's Management Committee, given the funding the Council's granted the Centre. However, two councillors who have undertaken this duty over the years complain that they have never been notified of Mytholmroyd Community Centre Management Committee meetings. If the Centre is in breach of Town Council grant conditions as a result of this, it should be no surprise to anyone if future grants are not forthcoming.
I realise this letter won't make me popular with the people who manage Mytholmroyd Community Centre. However, if the Centre is to command broader respect locally, it needs to listen to and engage with its critics - it needs to change. I would like to see a Community Centre in Mytholmroyd that is valued and appreciated right across the community. I hope that those who run the Mytholmroyd Community Centre will act to bring this about.