A group of Dewsbury business owners has come together to clean up town centre eyesores – before Kirklees College brings in 1,300 students next year.
A new college is due to be built on the former Safeway supermarket site next to Lidl in Bradford Road, along with conversion of the landmark Pioneer House, a Victorian former Co-op building,
Dewsbury Forward has been formed by members of Dewsbury Chamber of Trade, Dewsbury Rotary Club and Dewsbury Market Trader to press for town centre eyesores to be cleaned up in anticipation of the new investment coming to town in 2018.
The new group is chaired by Chamber of Trade president Trish Makepeace, who has long campaigned for town centre improvements.
Kirklees Cabinet member Clr Cathy Scott, who is also a ward councillor for the town centre, is spearheading the campaign. She holds regular meetings with the group and has already acted on some of their complaints, particularly boarded up premises which blight neighbouring shops.
Clr Scott said there had been great improvements in the town centre, but there were still things which had to be done.
She warned owners of properties blighting the town that the council had powers to force them to carry out improvements. “If they don’t, we can move in and do it and send the bill to them,” she said. “We have tolerated some of these people for too long.”
The campaign comes as Costa Coffee announced the opening of a new outlet in premises formerly occupied by Jack Fulton’s at Longcauseway. Workmen are busy getting the premises ready and Costa are advertising online for staff.
Clr Scott said she was delighted to spearhead the Dewsbury Forward campaign. “So many people criticise but don’t do anything,” she said. “This group is doing something. They’ve come together to try and make their town a better place for everyone – and they are working with the council and the college to achieve this.”