Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Thoughts on helping out churches

New North Rd Baptist architectural treasure?
I've had a bit of stick recently in the local press from an ex Newsome Tory Candidate about helping Newsome South Methodist Church get solar panels for its roof. It set me thinking about some of the work I've done in recent years to help church buildings and their congregations. As a very convinced athiest there must be some irony here. The Methodist Church example is one where the building is very much a local community hub with pre school clubs, nursery groups and is in pretty much constant use during the week. As an old building the Church requires ongoing maintenance which can be costly. So the £5000 grant from the Area Committee will help the Church realise around a minimum of £2000/year income over the next 25 years so a total of £50,000 or ten times the value of the grant. That has to be a good use of public money and a real investment in the 'Big Society'.

.......and with the cafe extension complete with cross.

I've also helped New North Road Baptist Church who were to be refused planning permission for an extension as officers did not believe their extension for a cafe would be in keeping with the rest of the 70s built building. I referred the application to Planning Committee so Councillors could make the decision. They wisely recognised that the extension would not look at all out of place and that the original building was not exactly an architectural masterpiece in any case.

At the other end of the architectural scale Huddersfield Parish Church in town wanted to put a 2 storey glass extension which would allow them easy access to the upper floors which are currently inaccessible to the elderly and those with poor mobility. Again Planning opposed the application on aesthetic grounds and I referred it to Planning Committee and Councillors approved it. The argument I put, as well as enabling them to actually use their own building, was that the glass extension would actually enhance the building and that the juxtaposition in architectural styles would actually be a positive thing.

I've also helped the church at Thurstonland  in my Parish Council patch, by putting them onto a low cost loan to help them refurbish their building.  I feel I need to make clear that all this work on behalf of religious bodies is by no means a form of insurance just in case my atheism doesn't turn good in the end but a recognition that churches actually fulfill a valuable social role in our communities. There was once last year that a vicar suggested he might turn me on to christianity. I think I manage to convince him that in religious terms at least that I was a bit of a lost cause.


  1. It has to be remembered Andrew that the income they draw will be from the Government in terms of subsidies for the production of "greener" electricity. So the £5000 grant will cost £50000 in the end.
    Ex Tory candidate.

  2. Wrong Bernard I'm afraid. The Feed In Tariff is not paid for out of taxation.

  3. Yhe power companies get their money from....?

  4. The Power Companies get their money from customers not taxation. I guess you'd call this a stealth tax but then if you are going to change the way we generate electricity it has to be paid for anyway. Of course you could bury your head in the and and pretend global warming isn't happening, that oil isn't running out and that we don't need to find new ways of generating power.