Kirklees Council to sell former Red House Museum

Three bids turned down, but campaigners vow to fight on
Patrick Steel
Kirklees Council will sell the former Red House Museum, a Grade 2 listed 17th-century building that was frequented by the Brontë sisters, after turning down three bids from community groups to take over the site.

This means that instead of a community asset transfer, the site will be sold on the open market.

But campaigners have vowed they will continue to fight to keep the building in the community.

Lisa Holmes, a Conservative councillor at Kirklees and a member of the Gomersal Community Group, which was one of the three bidders for the museum, said she was “incredibly unhappy” with the council’s decision and with the lack of an appeals process.

The community group was hoping to take over both the museum and the Gomersall Public Hall, and had been offered up to half a million pounds by a private donor to take over the venues.

The council rejected the bid on the grounds that it was too commercial, and had questions about the governance model the group proposed, but Holmes claims that the council would not work with the group to improve the bid, and would not consider a bid for both buildings together.

“We were only turned down for Red House, we are still on track for Gomersall Public Hall,” said Holmes. “But we will continue to fight for the museum and until the day the gavel goes down on the auction we won’t give up on it.”

A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The expressions of interest in an asset transfer received for Red House have been assessed and none of them were felt to be suitable for progressing to a full business case.

“Therefore in line with the decision made by the Council’s Cabinet on 3 October 2016 a brief is being prepared to allow the property to be offered to the market.”

The museum closed in December after the council halved its funding for museums and galleries. Nearby Dewsbury Museum closed in November.

The Friends of Dewsbury Park Mansion are hoping to create a community hub on the site of the former Dewsbury Museum, and aim to work with local history societies in Dewsbury to explore the possibility of setting up a local history study facility in the building, with a view to creating displays.

Most of the collections from both museums are being held in secure storage while the council considers how they should be displayed in future. A number of items on loan have been returned to their original owners.


Updated to include a comment from Kirklees Council.

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