In the week since the Council took back the management of the Centre at Threeways significant steps have been taken to improve safety and security, working closely with tenants and users to ensure services and activities are continued wherever possible and are safe to do so.
The Council has contacted all the tenants within the Centre, including social enterprises, small businesses, a church with its food bank and a GP surgery, and the vast majority of activities continue to operate on site as normal.
The local authority has also provided support to staff who previously worked for Threeways to help them find alternative employment.
The building and the grounds have been secured, providing robust protection from theft and vandalism. Further checks and assessments by the Council’s Building Regulations and Health and Safety teams continue.
Although the Sports Centre, which was operated directly by Threeways, is currently closed, all the members who have contacted the Council are being supported to find suitable alternative facilities which meet their needs and also support local community sport provision wherever possible.
And throughout March all members of the Threeways Sports Centre can use Calderdale Council’s sports and fitness facilities upon presentation of their membership card and subject to terms and conditions.
The building, which was previously the Ridings School, was one of the most ambitious and largest transfers of a Council building to a community organisation ever completed in England.
Such a large and complex site inevitably presented many challenges as it was transformed into a centre for community use, particularly in meeting the health and safety standards required in a public building.
Even when the Centre was managed by Threeways, the Council retained the legal responsibility to make sure that the building is safe for the people who use it.
This means the Council must ensure that it is compliant with all the statutory regulations relating to fire safety, asbestos, electricity, gas and also water hygiene, to effectively manage the risk of legionella for example, in the Sports Centre showers.
The Council worked tirelessly with the Centre at Threeways’ Board of Directors for two years to secure key information and put the necessary health and safety checks in place without success. This left the local authority with no alternative but to take back the site, given the seriousness of the condition of the building.
Calderdale Council’s Director for Regeneration and Strategy, Mark Thompson said:
“This was always a very ambitious asset transfer and the level of determination and commitment to provide a wide range of facilities and services within the community has been impressive. This is a well-used and much loved Centre within the heart of the community.
“Unfortunately the scale of the challenge was too difficult, and the risks to the public were too great. The Council was forced to take the difficult decision to bring the lease to an end, to protect tenants, staff and visitors to the building.
“We are now assessing what additional work is required to make the building safe and to secure a financially sustainable future for the Centre.”
The Council is also working hard to develop a range of potential options for the future of the Sports Centre. These will be dependent on further specialist assessments following issues identified within the centre since Council staff conducted site visits late last week.