Village’s centre of attention

Malcolm Silkstone, 61, founder and c/man of the Bailiff Bridge Community Association, is pictured on the site of the  proposed new centre.
Malcolm Silkstone, 61, founder and c/man of the Bailiff Bridge Community Association, is pictured on the site of the proposed new centre.

BAILIFF Bridge Community Centre – 25 years in the making – has just celebrated its first year in business.

Has the venture been worth all the blood, sweat and tears devoted to it?

Chairman of Bailiff Bridge Association Malcolm Silkstone leads a toast to the new community centre and to the people who helped make it happen

Chairman of Bailiff Bridge Association Malcolm Silkstone leads a toast to the new community centre and to the people who helped make it happen

Initially there was the worry of not knowing whether the new venture was going to take off but 12 months on the centre has proved an aseet and has a diary bulging with bookings.

“The centre is proving extremely popular and is very well used,” said its chairman Malcolm Silkstone.

“The community backing has been fantastic and people from far and wide who have been to events have said it’s a boon to the village.

“We just didn’t know how popular it was going to be, particularly in this difficult economic climate.

“But interest has exceeded all our hopes and expectations and we are on the next phase of working on the grounds and hopefully we will have an outside area in time for summer events which will help even more to enhance the centre.”

The centre is used for christenings, birthday parties, anniversaries, company celebrations and community events such as keep fit classes, Zumba dancing and classes for the over-50s.

Plans are under way to put on events for young people in the area.

“It has become the heart of the community which is what we originally wanted it to be. Once again we have had the businesses who have been supportive, if not directly then through other events. We have the continued excellent support of our ward councillors, had the support from Calderdale Council officers who have been brilliant and we have had a couple of visits from the council’s chief executive Owen Williams who was very pleased with what we had achieved,” he said.

“I just feel we have a very businesslike professional team and without that, as I know from my own business, you will only get out of it what you put into it and the secret to success to have a body of people that work together in a positive manner and this has been the success not only of the community centre but the park and other things.”

He said the centre had been supported by the police and the payback team which had taken an active role in developing parts of the centre.

The community centre will also house the village library as from next year, a move which has the backing of Calderdale Council’s leader Janet Battye.

And although it has been open for 12 months, there is still work ongoing on the picnic site, by the stream and landscaping around the centre.

The centre is available to the public. When a private function isn’t booked in on a Friday night, the centre will be open as a village pub. Malcolm said a notice will be put on the board when it is available or people can contact the centre on 01484 717808.

Manager Julia Baldwin said it had taken off better than expected and they were booked most Friday and Saturdays until May. The only thing she would encourage is more community involvement from people who wish to set up craft classes or computer classes at the centre because there was still spaces available during the day and at night.

“When we set up the group in 1986 we thought it would be up and running for our children when they were teenagers. But some of these children are in their late 30s now its open. The years have gone by and we did struggle trying to get it off the ground.

“But what we have seen here is not just the creation of a community centre but the complete regeneration of a village.

“I am now 67 and I want to finish the project completely then decide what I will do next. But at least this village has got a wonderful facility here to use.

“I would like to thank the board and a special thanks to Trevor Lever for planning the interior and Julia Baldwin who has managed the centre.”