Hands off Red House!
That is the emphatic message being hammered home to Kirklees Council by protesters, angry at the historic building’s proposed closure.
As Kirklees looks to shave off £64m from its budget by 2014, the Gomersal museum could be closed and sold.
But the plans have caused a storm of protest since they were revealed last week.
The Spenborough Guardian has launched its Hands Off Red House campaign which has already been inundated with support. And protesters lobbied Tuesday’s meeting of the Spen Valley Area Committee demanding a re-think.
Gordon North, vice-chairman of the Spen Valley Civic Society, criticised the lack of consultation.
“Most people did not find out about it until last week,” he said.
“Kirklees should be seeking to make it a world heritage site and not looking to close it down.
“I ask the area committee to make every effort to prevent the closure of Red House and join the campaign to keep it open.”
Imelda Marsden, a member of the Brontë Society, slammed the potential closure.
She said: “It is the 200th anniversary of the Luddite rebellion this year. We are campaigning like the Luddites – not with guns and weapons – but with our voices, letters and emails,” she said.
Little Gomersal Community Association chairman Peter Jackson said: “This is a critical decision. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
“Why is this in the budget proposals? Is it a case of kite-flying to see what the response would be?”
Deputy council leader David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) said the council was facing unprecedented cuts in its budget.
He added: “These are cuts, not savings. Let’s not be mealy mouthed about this. Officers have put forward their recommendations and at the cabinet meeting, the Labour group will make its amendments.
“It is possible that by the time it goes to full council, no-one will be putting forward the closure.”
Former Brontë Society president Richard Wilcocks said the group had begun a petition on its website.
He told the Guardian he was heartened by the strength of feeling of those at the meeting: “It seems that opposition to this appalling plan is gathering momentum in spite of the fact that it seems to have been sprung on people.”
The cabinet meets on Tuesday at Huddersfield Town Hall from 4pm to discuss its budget proposals.
l Hands off Red House: See Letterbox pages 32 and 34, and Looking Back, page 18.