Fears for Ilkley's historic town hall future as doors close

Ilkley Town Hall

Ilkley Town Hall

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The historic Ilkley Town Hall is about to close its doors to the general public, prompting questions about the future of the early-1900s landmark.

Owner Bradford Council says limited public use of the town hall, on Station Road, does not justify the cost of a staffed reception and it is to issue access cards to staff who work there.

The move comes amid the ongoing drive by the authority to save millions of pounds which could also see the Council-owned Manor House Museum transferred to community management or mothballed.

The Council has removed a number of services from the town hall in recent years. It closed its cash office, where residents could pay Council Tax, business rates and other bills, last year.

Ilkley Visitor Information Centre, in an office at the front of the town hall, will remain open as usual.

The town hall is also home to the Ilkley Parish Clerk’s office, and the parish council meets in the council chamber.

A Bradford Council spokeman said: “Ilkley Town Hall has very limited public use and the number of visitors does not justify the cost of a staffed reception. Access to the tourist information centre will remain as it currently is. Members of staff and councillors requiring access to the building will be issued with access cards.

“Members of the public visiting the building will be able to access freephones in the reception that will enable them to contact officers in the building, or Council information points.”

Ward councillor, Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) asked about the future use of the town hall, built between 1906 and 1908 as the new offices of Ilkley Urban District Council.

Coun Hawkesworth said: “The new arrangements are merely a sticking plaster and temporary in nature. What is its future? This is a listed building of value to civic pride of the residents of Ilkley.

“The Core Strategy designates Ilkley as a principal town because it has provides central Council services for the rest of the valley.

“It is rather disturbing that these changes are being done without discussion with the district councillors in such an underhand way.”

She asked if a civic buildings trust could be an option for the future of the town hall.

Ilkley Parish Council chairman Mike Gibbons believes the new arrangement could offer better security for parish council officers who work in the building.

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