Whether you’re for “Bremain” or determined to “Brexit” – the EU Referendum has got a lot of people hot under the collar.
There’s less than two weeks until the big vote of June 23 to decide whether Britain remains a member of the European Union.
And while there’s no doubt both sides are ramping up the rhetoric on the benefits of staying or leaving Europe, there’s no question that Huddersfield has benefited from millions of pounds of EU cash.
Figures from Kirklees Council show the area has received at least £20m over the past 10 years.
Much of the cash has come from the European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and European Social Funds (ESF), which have been available to regenerate areas suffering from the decline of particular industries and services.
So here’s what the EU has done for you:
Jobs and growth
About 1,270 new jobs have been created by the Objective 2 programme, financed by EU money. The scheme also gave access to employment for a further 277 residents from the most disadvantaged communities in Kirklees.
A second scheme, Creative Exchange III, has supported more than 120 creative businesses, creating over 70 new jobs.
Supporting local firms
Assistance has been given to 1,062 small and medium sized enterprises, with a further 75 receiving financial support.
Backing charities and community groups
The latest figures show 416 community organisations and social enterprises have been granted EU assistance.
EU money has been put towards the development of 21 hectares of derelict or contaminated land in the borough.
University of Huddersfield
The university’s Creative Arts and 3M Buckley Innovation Centre buildings were constructed thanks to EU money.
A project to deliver training for residents of deprived parts of Huddersfield was funded through EU cash. Construction in the Community (CiC) gave participants the opportunity to learn skills in brickwork and joinery, electrical skills and plumbing. The programme has been successful in supporting trainees to gain employment as well as inspiring them to undertake further work-based training to gain more qualifications.
Jeanne Ross, project officer for CiC, said: “This scheme has been instrumental in changing the lives of some of the trainees giving them the confidence to gain basic construction skills, move into employment and progress further in vocational training in a craft of their choice.”
The Government’s Priority School Building Programme has received loans from the European Investment Bank. The latest £56m scheme is partly financing the building of Whitcliffe Mount Business and Enterprise College at Cleckheaton and All Saints Catholic College in Bradley.
A £2m project to launch Kirklees Youth Enterprise Centre at Rawthorpe was part EU funded. The centre within the Netherhall Learning Campus, helps youngsters get their new businesses off the ground.
EU cash went towards the Primrose Hill Solar Village. The Huddersfield neighbourhood got funding from the EU Energie Cites programme to help fund solar panels on 121 homes for elderly and low income households.
Kirklees flagship revamp of Richmond Flats, now known as Harold Wilson Court, was partly funded by money from Europe. New features such as solar panels, triple glazing, insulation and other environmental features were paid for by Brussels. A spokesman for Kirklees said the flats were at the “forefront of the low carbon retrofit industry, not only in Kirklees but also nationally” and “one of the first high rise project of its kind in the UK.”
EU cash has also gone towards insulation projects of council homes in Golcar and Dewsbury.
EU money went towards the Media Centre, Ray Street Enterprise Centre and Bretton Business Park in Dewsbury.
£1.8m of ERDF cash was used to transform a former gasworks, then the largest brownfield site in Kirklees, into Bretton Business Park. It is now home to many thriving businesses and about 130 new jobs were created by the project.