MILNSBRIDGE is in danger of becoming a ghost town.
Thats the view of worried traders who claim services and shops are shutting down at an unprecedented rate.
Barclays Bank is due to close the doors of its Market Street branch for the final time a week today, despite strong opposition from local residents and a petition to try and keep it open.
It follows Barclays announcement last month of pre-tax profits of s6.07 billion for 2010, a rise of 30% on the previous year. This is despite paying a total of s3.5 billion in bonuses.
The branch closure mirrors a route taken by other banks and shops.
Tim Bolton, steward at Golcar Liberal Club, uses the Barclays branch regularly and said: This closure is a disaster for Milnsbridge.
I have been coming here for eight years and Im going to have to find an alternative now probably I will have to go all the way into town.
There is only Lloyds left and even they closed, but they had to re-open due to pressure.
Gustavo Mainetti, owner of Milnsbridges Central Cafe, has led the campaign and petition to keep the Barclays branch open, but he accepts that it is a lost battle.
I had a meeting with the manager of Barclays in Huddersfield and gave him the petition with 150 signatures, said Mr Mainetti.
He showed me the figures of what had been going on at the Milnsbridge branch. Since 2000, business was 38% down. They applied for a cash machine, but were refused.
Barclays closing is a consequence of other local businesses closing and of internet banking.
It will be sad on Friday when the bank closes, another loss for the village. It is like a funeral and the customers are in mourning already.
He added that a comments book had been left in the bank and that the Barclays manager had been visibly moved by some of the emotional pleas written in the book, particularly by elderly customers.
The Barclays closure is just the latest in a long list of businesses casualties in Milnsbridge.
The village used to have a branch of HSBC, but that closed in 2005. More recently, The Halifax closed its branch at the bottom of Scar Lane after many years in the village.
The premises were taken over by Santander, but they only lasted a few weeks before leaving.
The premises are now empty and shuttered, like several other properties in the centre of the village.
The catalogue of Milnsbridge enterprises which have left or been forced to close down over the last couple of years includes a cobblers, a pet shop, a dog grooming salon and the Post Office pub.
The villages other pub, the Armitage Arms, also closed for a while and has since re-opened. However, its licence is currently up for review with Kirklees Council next week.
Other factors which are a sign of hard times in Milnsbridge are:
Several local mills have ceased trading.
Many of the apartments created from the empty mill buildings lie empty and look likely to remain unsold for some time in the current financial climate.
The village Post Office has had three different owners since 2002.
One man who is regretting taking a gamble on commercial success in Milnsbridge is Tahir Iqbal who invested in extra premises in Market Street in September 2009 to combine the greengrocers with the adjoining Bridge News.Four years ago Milnsbridge was a busy place, now it is very quiet. It is becoming a ghost town, he said.
I bought next door to make something nice here, but we are struggling, like a lot of other businesses.
Aldi has also had a big effect. We need small shops here, not big supermarket stores.
I would say our takings are down almost 50% since 2009. I am thinking I made a mistake.
In my opinion Kirklees needs to refurbish this place, do some work on the canal, make a nice footpath and promote fishing.
We need some attraction here to bring people into the village, otherwise the future for Milnsbridge is very dark.
Mr Iqbals brother-in-law Mr Mohammed Riaz is having slightly better fortunes his Milnsbridge News in Dale Street is holding steady.
However, in order to maintain turnover, his newsagents and off- licence is now open seven days a week, and from 5.15am to 10pm most days.
MILNSBRIDGE has a long and proud heritage dating back 700 years.
Its name is thought to have derived from the water-powered mill and bridge back in the 13th century.
In its 19th century heyday, Milnsbridge was a bustling town with many riverside mills producing woollen and worsted textiles for a worldwide market.
Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson was brought up in Milnsbridge.
ONE man who takes a more optimistic view of Milnsbridges future is Jeremy Cuss of Milnsbridge Enhancement Group.
This small band of volunteers dedicate some of their spare time to improving the village.
Projects include putting Christmas trees on shops in the village centre every December, removing litter from footpaths and painting railings. The group is also hoping to restore the changing coloured light to the pyramid sculpture by the bridge in the very near future.
I have been in the area for nearly 30 years and I dont think it is nearly as bad as in the 1980s, said Mr Cuss.
We are of course very concerned to see the closure of the Barclays branch and acknowledge that there are places going out of businesses. It is a worrying trend.
But Milnsbridge is an important local centre within Huddersfield and has plenty things going for it.
It is an attractive place to live and work and I am very optimistic for the long term future of the village.