Budget cuts will not close Oakwell Hall

Coun Graham Turner. (AB112b0316)

Coun Graham Turner. (AB112b0316)

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Birstall’s Oakwell Hall and Country Park will definitely not close, it has officially been announced.

Concerns had surfaced among residents that the Grade I-listed Elizabethan hall could could face the axe after huge budget cuts were passed by Kirklees Council.

But Coun Graham Turner, portfolio holder for resources, has gone on record to categorically say that the “jewel in our crown” will not shut.

He said: “We have no intention whatsoever of closing Oakwell Hall.

“In fact, we are looking at ways of improving it over the next few years.

“We’ve invested heavily in things like the new visiting centre and we wouldn’t have done that with having any intention of closing it.

“It’s a jewel in our crown and I cannot see it ever not being a jewel in our crown.”

Coun Turner (Lab, Denby Dale) spoke on the record about the decision in order to reassure residents that the hall, in Nutter Lane, will still operate in its usual way.

There had been a number of people who decided not to book functions at the venue because of uncertainty over its future.

In 2014 the hall – which is the most popular visitor attraction in the district – was granted nearly £300,000 from Arts Council England, Kirklees Council and others for a revamp.

However at a meeting last month councillors committed to reviewing and reducing the number of museums and galleries it maintains to no more than three. The budget for this will be slashed from £1,057,000 to £531,000.

Coun Turner believes Oakwell Hall is a “shining example” of the success that can be achieved when the council works alongside volunteers, local businesses and other organisations. Birstall paint company PPG is one local employer that has supported the venue financially and with staff volunteers.