HEBDEN Bridge Picture House is set to embark on a new digital era after it finally came under town council control.
Calderdale Council officially signed over the historic cinema to Hebden Royd on a 125-year lease on Sunday and the town council believes it can safeguard its long term future.
The town council will use the £81,032 it raised from increasing council tax by 25 per cent to install digital equipment and improve the cinema’s toilets.
Councillor Susan Press, who chairs the picture house committee, said: “To ensure the Hebden Bridge Picture House has a long term future it was essential to take it into our ownership.
“It wasn’t under any immediate threat, but Calderdale made it clear that there was no money left to make the improvements that are needed.
“But, most important, it was the digitisation. The picture house wouldn’t have been able to function without that.”
It is estimated that over the next ten years the building will need another £320,000 worth of improvements, including major structural work on its roof.
But Coun Press said the council is just looking to the short term for now.
“It is not a case of the town council marching in and telling everyone what to do. The cinema will continue exactly how it is now,” she said.
“We will have a new manager – because that position has been vacant for years. No staff will lose their jobs.
“The town council is just in charge of pay roll and making sure working conditions are fine.”
In the long term, Coun Press said Hebden Royd is hoping to set up a Saturday morning kids club, show old films and serve wine.
The news of the asset transfer has been welcomed by local politicians.
Calderdale Council leader Janet Battye said: “This is the third asset transfer in Hebden Bridge – it started with the Town Hall, then the growing land at Sandy Gate, and now the picture house.
“For me, these transfers are about real power for local people.”
Hebden Royd Mayor Coun Scott Trickett, who said: “It was a historic moment to restore the picture house back to our area – where it used to be.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Picture House committee and the town clerk, Jason Boom, for their outstanding effort. Thanks to the cinema staff and the Friends of the Picture House group as well.”
To celebrate the takeover, Hebden Royd is hosting a gala event at the picture house on New Road, from 7.30pm on Sunday, April 22.
Fanny and Elvis will be playing and tickets are £8, £7 concessions. To book call 08448 563797.