COUNCILLORS have welcomed plans to rejuvenate “forgotten” Shipley and Keighley using the Government’s new “Towns Fund” worth £3.6 billion.
The towns will be granted a total of £25 million towards ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with “a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.”
Brighouse is also one of the 100 chosen towns in the nationwide project which was announced yesterday by local government secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.
Cllr Martin Love (Green, Shipley), who believes Shipley has been “left behind a bit”, is optimistic.
He said: “I’m pleased that we can get this sort of investment into Shipley but we need to make sure that the entire community is involved in making sure it’s properly spent.
“I would like to see, from a business point of view, that the market gets revitalised so it will be a more vibrant market place and that it can be out six days a week.
“These are places that are getting left behind a bit. You only need to look at Shipley to know that this has been the case all along. Money seems to be spent in the centre of Bradford than the outlying towns.”
It’s a feeling shared by Shipley MP Philip Davies who said he is “pleased” the cash is specifically for improvements to Shipley.
The MP said he feels government has finally “listened” after months of lobbying for a high street boost.
He said: “I am absolutely delighted we are getting this money.
“Too often money is allocated specifically to Bradford Council and my constituents are missing out as money is spent in Labour heartlands.”
While Keighley MP John Grogan feels the proposition is more of a “an invitation to bid rather than money in the bank.”
The politician said he is looking forward to working on all party “concrete proposals” with Keighley Business Improvement District, Keighley Town Council, Bradford Council and many more.
Shipley and Keighley are the only areas to be listed together in the Government’s announcement.
Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration, planning & transport, responded to Philip Davies’ comments about unequal funding, describing the lack of funding for towns as “a national issue”.
The Labour councillor slated the politician for making attempts to “play politics locally and pit neighbouring communities against one another.”
He said: “As a council working with partners we are investing to unlock growth in Shipley and Keighley. Current projects include the Shipley to Bradford road improvements, the Hard Ings road scheme, the £1m Shipley Healthy Streets project, the new Business Development Zones, Keighley Market and Cliffe Castle to name a few.
“I’m delighted that we’re on the list. Historically the government has overlooked the towns of Britain, where so many people live and work, so it’s refreshing and very welcome for Keighley and Shipley to have the opportunity of this investment. We look forward to working with local people and businesses in Shipley and Keighley on exciting plans to draw in this funding and get the best possible impact.”