Campaigners had been gearing up to fight the proposals ahead of the council’s budget meeting on February 26, but a spokesman for Calderdale said this week that Monday night’s Cabinet meeting had decided they would not be recommended as a savings option.
“The budget proposal related to alternative service delivery and digital channels for visitor centres was taken out of Cabinet’s budget plans, so won’t be being recommended to Budget Council as a saving on 26 February,” she said.
The savings option proposal was to close Hebden Bridge and Halifax Visitor Centres, saving £50,000 in each of budget years 2019-20 and 2020-21, with a number of staff jobs likely to be at risk.
The options paper said: “The visitor centre in Central Library is a shared desk facility and could be closed relatively quickly. However, Hebden Bridge is in rented premises and so would require a break of the lease. There would need to be consultation with public/staff/trade unions and appropriate HR processes. Closures could take place from October 2018.”
The document said the rationale behind closure would be that “these are discretionary services and there are increasingly alternative ways to provide information using digital technology. There may be opportunities to provide more information on-line or by other services broadening their scope.”
But it acknowleged major risks, pointing out tourism is an important and growing part of Calderdale’s economy, contributing around £300m per year.
Hebden Bridge Walkers’ Action Group had opposed the proposals, highlighting tourism’s importance to the Hebden Royd economy especially.