A KEY community hub has been handed back to locals after long-drawn negotiations.

Eccleshill Community Association and the local community have secured a 99-year lease of the Mechanics Institute in the village.

The 19th century building, in Stone Hall Road, was transferred to the Association and community from Bradford Council by a Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

It is the home of the Eccleshill Community Association, which provides a wide range of services and activities for the local community.

The CAT finally came about thanks to the intervention of Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain.

He broke a yearlong deadlock in negotiations for the CAT - which began in early 2018 - by raising the issue at a meeting with the Council's Executive Committee, with the board then agreeing to proceed with the 99-year lease.

Terry Pearson, Chair of the Eccleshill Community Association, was the person to first bring the idea on the transfer to the table.

He said: "I'm elated, it's been a long slog and we've still got little boxes to tick.

"But we've had confirmation from the MP, he's had it confirmed, there's just some paperwork to put in place to finalise it.

"It has been a fraught last nine months as the process had stagnated leading me to seek help and support from our Member of Parliament, Imran Hussain, which was quickly followed up by a visit to see us at the Mechanics Institute and action to get the Local Authority to finalise the CAT.

"Huge thank you to our MP for his prompt, decisive input."

A CAT allows the transfer of the management and/or ownership of public land and buildings to achieve a local social, economic or environmental benefit.

Before this transfer, the building was let to the Association on a short-term lease.

Eccleshill Community Association has worked tirelessly over the past few years to improve the Institute.

It was on the brink of liquidation two years ago, but it was saved and refurbished - to the tune of £25,000.

Now, this long-term lease, has secured the hub and community's future, says Mr Pearson.

He added: "It's fantastic news for the whole Eccleshill community. It's back where it belongs and where it first started.

"It was funded and built by the Eccleshill village community.

"It gives certainty to the community and gives us a future - we can plan for the next 20 to 30 years.

"There's lots we want to do with that building, and on a short-term lease, there's no way the authorities would do what we want to do with that building, so we're in control now."

The Chair also thanked Mr Hussain for his "prompt" and "decisive input".

Mr Hussain said: "The Mechanics Institute up in Eccleshill Village and the Eccleshill Community Association play an important role in the local community and are a key part of local life, setting the standard for community work across Bradford and the region, and I am pleased that Bradford Council have agreed to listen, end the deadlock and finalise the transfer of the building on such long lease for the whole community’s benefit.

"Community organisations are the lifeblood of the areas they serve, but sadly, many have had to close their doors over recent years.

"However, I hope that with his long-term lease, Terry and the Eccleshill Community Association now have the certainty that they need to expand the services and activities that they provide, and I look forward to visiting them again soon to see the work that they do."