Civic Transfer conference – some brilliant advice

Yesterday we went to a Community-owned civic buildings conference in Hebden Bridge. The conference was hosted by Locality, a national organisation whose Bradford branch have been helping and advising campaigners about the Odeon for the past few months.

Griff Rhys Jones was also speaking at this event, and it was great to see that he spoke with a huge picture of the Odeon behind him, and mentioned his visit to Bradford the day before. It was also nice, from a personal point of view, to be able to sit and enjoy his talk at an event hosted by someone else, because Tuesday’s Bradford One launch was so hectic for us that we didn’t get chance to take it all in.

Among the people attending the event were representatives from other asset transfer projects around the North, including Tommy from Toxteth Town Hall, Chris Hill from Shine, and the team responsible for the Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

The Hebden Bridge Town Hall is a great space, with lots of its original features, plus a swish new courtyard and extension over the river. It played a significant part during the floods, when it became a sort of relief centre for lots of people in the area. The Hebden Bridge Community Association talked about how they’d worked alongside the Council, how they’d had to struggle against the perception that they wanted to run on grants, and how they felt what they did was an important third way between the Council and private sector.

Tommy from Toxteth was a great speaker, and a great advocate for his area. It still pains him that people associate the area with riots from years ago. We could sympathise with this, and also with it spurring him and others on to do something. Tommy warned us that it’s a bumpy ride along the way to replicate their success. I sent a few tweets during his talk because I was so inspired by what he said:

 

 

 

 

Chris Hill from Shine was also involved with the Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, and Unity Hall in Wakefield. Shine have been speaking to us for a few months as well, so it was good to get more insight into a slightly more business-minded approach, because viability is very important. He also had some encouraging words to say about the co-operative model:

 

 

Another speaker was a representative of the Architectural Heritage Fund. I expected a lot of what he said would be related to policies but he actually also had some excellent insight into these kind of projects from a more psychological and social point of view.

He pointed out that campaigners are not always the best people to be involved right to the end, and talked about something he called ‘Founding Fathers Syndrome’ or ‘Founders Syndrome’ which can ultimately ruin projects because campaigners don’t realise their limitations when it comes to progressing a scheme once a building they’ve campaigned for has been saved.

That’s something we definitely don’t want the Odeon to fall victim to, and we’re very keen to step aside as soon as the vehicle is in place to make this bid successful if we do get an asset transfer. We’re very lucky right now to have some key city stakeholders already involved alongside people who have campaigned, and a real sign of success will be when we can fade into the background as an AGM elects a top notch board of directors. I think I speak for all the founder board when I say that stepping down at that point would be a very proud moment for all of us.

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Bradford One November 15, 2012 Blog, Latest News