Trader keeps TV pressure on council

A DEWSBURY trader kept up the pressure on Kirklees Council’s town centre regeneration efforts with a TV interview last week.
Mark Rourke, of Main Exchange in Westgate, spoke with the BBC when they returned to follow up their ‘Inside Out’ show from 12 months ago.
They were back to see what has changed since the launch of the council’s 25year redevelopment masterplan last November.
Mr Rourke told them that Kirklees’ improvements – such as the Town Hall revamp and new Greenway – had made little difference to traders.
He told The Press: “How many people will cycle from Ossett down the new greenway and into Dewsbury to do their shopping?
“The Town Hall and the market now look great, but all the council have done is spend money on the things they already own.
“I think they’ve done it to get a quick return on the investment. Any money from the market or from events at the Town Hall goes back to the council.”
He also challenged a Kirklees claim that 17 new shops had opened in the last year, pointing out at least as many had closed over the same period.
Mr Rourke added: “Most have not taken vacant units. They’ve replaced others that were leaving, like Home Bargains coming in for Dorothy Perkins.”
A council spokesman said various initiatives had been launched to support traders and added: “We have encouraged land and property owners to enhance the town centre through our shopfront improvement scheme.
“We also recognise that one of the most best ways to grow the local economy is to increase the number of visitors.
“Dewsbury has hosted a number of special festivals and events, all of which have brought people into the town centre.
"Events held this year, like DewsburyOnSea, the Freedom Parade, the Beer Festival and Spirit all attracted thousands of visitors.
“Businesses reported an increase in trade. These schemes have been complemented by the free town centre bus and discounted parking.
“We are also about to submit a bid for £1.5m to improve the town centre conservation area."

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