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Council backs community option for Todmorden College

Celebration: TLC campaigners learn that councillors have backed the transfer option
Celebration: TLC campaigners learn that councillors have backed the transfer option

A cheer rang out at Halifax Town Hall as members of Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub saw councillors back their vision for Todmorden College’s future.

Last Monday, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet voted to follow council officers’ recommendation that the TLC option was the best one for the town going forward.

After two years of deliberations on the issue, councillors were given two options to choose from, the other being from supermarket company Aldi, which already has permission to develop the neighbouring former Abraham Ormerod hospital and Olympia cinema sites. Aldi wished to increase the size of their plot and would have developed a children’s centre - the original will now stay in the college building under TLC.

TLC had argued that bringing it into community owenrship would be the less expensive option for Calderdale. Emma Leeming, of TLC, said: “It’s been a lot of really hard work to put together a workable plan and we’re over the moon that this hard work has paid off.

“We’ll be working with the council to create a facility which nourishes the town and is sustainable - for businesses, for the community and for education. We’re already in discussions with our education delivery partners to maintain and significantly grow the education and training offer and will be consulting with the local community about what education and training they’re looking for. As well as meeting with our anchor tenants, we’re also in the process of arranging a series of dates with the council where prospective tenants can come and view the facility. A board member will be there too to answer any questions.

“And of course we’ll be fundraising. This is a community project and we’ve had masses of support already. Anyone who’d like to volunteer or offer support, do please get in touch.” TLC’s plans, proposals and contact details can be viewed on its website http://www.socit.org.uk/ and it has a Facebook page.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, Coun Barry Collins, said: “On balance, Cabinet decided that the best option for the future of the college and the benefit of the local community was to enable Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub Limited (TLC) to take forward its ambitious plans for the existing building. The proposal has been developed by Todmorden people themselves and is built around a care for their own environment. We believe it can contribute to a stronger visitor economy and sense of place, whilst providing valuable training opportunities and a broad range of community facilities. Based on our experience of similar asset-transfers elsewhere in Calderdale, we will now begin the process of transferring the college to TLC, on a leasehold basis, and ensuring the group receives all the support and advice it may need in turning its vision into a sustainable reality.”