Achievements in a Year!

We hope you’re well! It’s amazing that it’s been just over a year since you helped us begin the campaign to retain Dewsbury’s former museum building for community use. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes so this newsletter brings you right up to date.

We submitted the Business Plan on 3 July 2017 and in August we were told that the assessments had come back and were “on the whole good”. Various legal issues arose that had to be resolved in order for the Community Asset Transfer to go ahead. Our small team has been working with Council Officers and Councillors to find ways through the difficulties, but the good news is: it’s starting to look like solutions may have been found.

In the meantime we’ve been working at various projects in a ‘start as you mean to go on’ fashion. As you believed that the Mansion building should be a community base that supports health and wellbeing, as well as local businesses, we’ve been looking into all sorts of possibilities. In fact, lots of interest has been shown from local organisations who would like to take up residence already! On this basis we’re working to support local initiatives that benefit the people of Dewsbury.

We were able to support efforts to ensure that Dewsbury had a Christmas Lights Switch On Event, and, albeit we were asked just two weeks before the big night, we were overwhelmed at the goodwill and support shown by so many. It’s hoped that we’ll be able to move forward with this and ensure that an event befitting our town is staged in 2018.

There are also plans to open a Forest School in the park. Jenifer (a founding Director of DPMCH Ltd and also a member of the Friends of Crow Nest Park) has been working with Dewsbury Moor Big Lottery and Waseem Riaz of the Faizan-E-Madina Jamia Mosque on Pilgrim Avenue, with support from Andy Goff, our Kirklees Volunteer Co-ordinator, to secure funding from “Near Neighbours” to make it happen. It’s hoped that this trial will lead to bigger things in future and feed into the Mansion’s work on health and wellbeing.

In November, Jax and Jenifer went along to the Locality 2017 Convention to learn about how other Community Asset Transfer groups across the UK are benefitting local people. There was a vast amount of inspiration!

Stretford Hall in Manchester was a project begun by two friends and has now become a buzzing and vibrant hub for the local community. The exciting thing about this project was the way they had used their status as a Charitable Community Benefit Society (which DPMCH Ltd is) to build up a large membership and organise a successful share issue to raise money to support the development of the building. They are also hosting a number of individual enterprises just starting out in business, which is exactly what we want to do.

Another project, The Rotunda in Liverpool, provides an affordable day nursery, free legal advice and counseling amongst a myriad of other offers that serve their local community and have raised the social and economic profile of the area.

What really stood out at the conference, is that communities are best placed to serve themselves because they know and understand what local needs are. This is exactly what is envisaged for Dewsbury Park Mansion, and we are looking forward to the New Year and the opportunity to make this happen for our town.

What’s next?

As we look to resolve the legal issues, we’ll be meeting with Council Officer’s in the New Year to look at planning requirements and funding opportunities. The business plan will be adjusted to accommodate present needs, and a community share offer will be made available to those who want to support the Mansion project in serving the people of Dewsbury.

It is then hoped that the council Cabinet will approve the decision to transfer the building to Dewsbury Park Mansion Community Hub Ltd during 2018, and we can begin the process of making the building fit for purpose!

Happy New Year!

You can keep up to date with developments on a more regular basis via our Facebook Page and Twitter account, or check out our website, simply follow the links below.

Finally, may we wish you all the very best for 2018, and sincerely thank you for your continued support.

Kindest regards
Jenifer, Gill, Pam and Jax.