RESIDENTS often put a major effort into keeping the major supermarkets out of their town centres.
But Elland is a different matter – they’ve embraced a supermarket chain wanting to build in the town.
Councillors say the town has dwindled as those around it bloom.
And hope of turning that around has been put in the hands of Morrisons, who will open a store in the town next year after a decade-long fight to get a supermarket for Elland.
The town has also been boosted by a grant of almost £34,000 which Calderdale Council say community groups can use to benefit it.
Clr John Ford (pictured inset) described Elland as having been “neglected for 30 years”.
He said: “The main thing which we hope will bring about change is the Morrisons supermarket.
“Elland has been neglected in Calderdale while many of the towns surrounding it are thriving – Elland has certainly missed out when it comes to developments, both from private investors and the council.
“If you look at what’s happened in Brighouse with the new swimming pool, the library, the gallery, it’s had investment. Hebden Bridge is the same, as is Todmorden, but Elland has missed out and hasn’t had a look in for 30 years.
“Most places don’t want big supermarkets but Elland is the exact opposite – we’ve had people actively campaigning for one rather than opposing it.”
For the last decade supermarkets have been competing to open in the town but applications have never been approved.
In May two went up against each other – the Morrisons plan for land bounded by the Elland-Riorges link and Wistons Lane, was approved.
But plans for an Asda were postponed over highways issues.
Clr Ford added: “The hope is Morrisons will be open next November and it can’t come soon enough.
“People in Elland go elsewhere, they go into Halifax, Brighouse or Huddersfield.
“Morrisons will breathe new life into the town, the road network will improve, there will be walking links with the town centre and it will kick-start a much brighter future.”
He said the council had secured a government grant for improvements: “It’s only £33,000 but it’s better than nothing,” he added.
Calderdale Council has just announced a new funding programme will make £33,910 available to community organisations in Elland over the next few years.
The council spokeswoman added: “Community First is an £80m government-funded initiative that will run until March 2015.
“The scheme will help communities come together to identify their strengths and local priorities in order to plan for their future and become more resilient. People will be encouraged to give time, expertise and resources towards projects they identify in their areas.
“The government will match these pound for pound, helping to stimulate local action towards meeting community needs.
“Local groups and organisations will be able to apply for funds of between £250 and £2,500 towards projects benefiting Elland.”
A MAJOR supermarket opening doesn’t always lead to the beginning of the end for a town centre.
The traders in Brighouse are proof of that – they rallied together to ensure the town thrived after Tesco opened in addition to the Sainsbury’s already there.
And the efforts of the Brighouse Business Initiative (BBI) have paid off – revenue increased 20% and trade and footfall were up by around 30% as a result of the special market days.
Lesley Adams, chair of the BBI, said the shopkeepers had to do something after Tesco opened.
They BBI formed two years ago when Calderdale Council gave its towns some money to host pre-Christmas events. Although the money dried up after a year, 46 traders each put £120 into a pot to fund similar events.
“There were no events in Brighouse, so we decided to do it ourselves,” Lesley said. “We came up with the idea of farmers markets – something that was new to Brighouse and would attract shoppers.”
The first Totally Local market in April was a massive success and was followed-up with markets in August and the Christmas lights switch on, each bringing thousands of people into the town centre.
“The markets were a major success, and one of the things we discovered was the knock-on effect it had,” Lesley added. “Calderdale Council told us parking revenue was up 22% the week after the first market and 35% after the second.
“The markets promoted the town and they were helping to bring people back even when they weren’t on.”
Lesley, who has run Simply Flowers for 18 years, was pleased to see their hard work earned them national recognition – Brighouse was listed among the top five most improved town centres in the UK this year by the Local Data Company.
The town reduced its shop vacancy rate by 3.9% with 11 new businesses opening in the town last year.
But three or four years ago it was a very different story – in 2003 the massive Tesco supermarket opened its doors.
The supermarket giant had received planning permission in 1999 for a store off Bradford Road, a site which had been the town’s sports centre.
As part of the deal, the sports club moved to a new site further up Bradford Road in a similar scheme to the current Huddersfield town centre Tesco plan.
But the plan became subject to a public inquiry in March 2001 and only got the go-ahead November 2001.
Lesley added: “You can accept that Tesco will open and people will shop there if they want to.
“There’s no point fighting Tesco on price, but we can offer different things, we can offer a level of customer service Tesco can’t. We can get things in our shoppers request and help them in a personal way Tesco can’t.
“It’s not about beating them, it’s about being better at something else.
“We’re not a clone town, there’s a high number of single retailers here, so we have something to attract people which they can’t get elsewhere.
“Car parking prices have stayed low – there are free parking spaces on the streets or it’s 60p in a car park.”
The BBI has big plans for the town in 2012 as it hosts the Festival of Brass from June 30-July 1 followed by a Diamond Jubilee Arts Festival August 23-31. The market days also return on April 28 and August 25.
Lesley added: “There’s almost 50 traders here passionate about our town, if we stick together we can make it better for all – that’s the plan.”
They’ve got the backing of local councillors – Clr Colin Stout (pictured inset) said: “It may sound simple to say but we want to keep footfall local. We’ve got to content with Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax and Leeds, so we need to offer something different and I think we do.
“We’ve family run traders putting their own money into keeping our town centre alive – 43% of the Brighouse shops are family-run businesses. These people are investing their own money into providing us all with a service we need and we should support them.”